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5 Spices That Enhance Your Food and Make You Healthier

By Ryan Munsey

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You’re going to eat.

And you're probably going to season your food.

You might as well use this as an opportunity to “stack” some extra health benefits.

Think about it...you’re doing it anyway. It might as well make you better.

5 spices you can use right now to increase health & performance

1. Rosemary 

When added to meats and other foods before cooking, rosemary reduces carcinogenic compounds known as HCAs (heterocyclic amines).

Rosemary also reduces oxidative stress to further promote longevity.

It works like the Alzheimer's drug Aricept to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter responsible for mental processing speed.

Rosemary is also used in aromatherapy to promote healing, relaxation and happiness. [1,2]

Go ahead and buy that little Rosemary Christmas tree that your local market sells every holiday season. It'll provide some relaxing aromatherapy and you'll have fresh seasonings for your food.

2. Sage

Deepak Chopra considers sage a great resource for "excessive accumulation of toxic, morbid emotions."

He's not alone. Ayurvedic Medicine has prized this plant for thousands of years as a purifying herb.

A member of the mint family, sage has antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It contains a compound called thujone that is effective against both salmonella and candida. [2]

It also contains rosmarinic acid, a phenol that is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Sage also enhances memory. In a 2003 paper published in Pharmacology, 50 μl doses of sage essential oil significantly improved immediate word recall in two separate studies. [3]

3. Oregano 

Both the whole or dried leaf form and the oil can be used as digestive aids, offer anti-bacterial, anti-mutagenic, and anti-cancer properties.

Oregano also lowers inflammation, supports joint health, and in homeopathy is used to increase sexual excitablilty. [2]

4. Thyme

If you've ever gargled with Listerine, you know the medicinal and antiseptic effects of thyme.

For this reason, thyme is used in many "vapor rubs" and natural toothpastes.

Thyme oil has even "demonstrated a good efficacy against antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria" in one study. [4]

Thyme can also aid in digestion by dislodging mucus in the intestinal tract and has been used in homeopathic remedies for respiratory issues like coughs and bronchitis. [2]

***You can find these first four herbs in many pre-mixed "Poultry Seasoning" blends. Just be sure there are no unwanted additives in your blend of choice.

5. Clove

From the latin word for the nail (clavus) that it resembles, clove  is a "warming spice", that can be seen everywhere during the fall and winter months. From apple ciders in fall, to traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes, clove is used to warm and energize the body.

Clove has long been used as a natural toothache remedy. 

Eugenol, the main active compound in cloves has been approved by the German Commission E as an antiseptic and anesthetic for it's ability to kill bacteria and viruses. [2]

In one study, a solution of clove oil in water was found to exhibit anti-cancer properties for skin cancer treatments. [5] Another study found that clove exhibits anti-cancer properties for breast cancer. [6]

I'm not suggesting we all go off the grid and swear of modern medicine in a trauma situation, but it's good to know we can bolster our immune system and overall health while we also make our food taste better.

This list is far from exhaustive. There many more herbs and spices with medicinal properties.

What are your favorites?

Bonus Recipe: Cauliflower Rice Stuffing

  1. Add 30g ghee to a large saute pan and melt
  2. Add 1/3 C each: diced onions, celery, and carrots and cook until almost translucent
  3. Add 1 head of riced cauliflower or 2 bags of Whole Foods frozen organic riced cauliflower
  4. Add sage, thyme, rosemary, and oregano, stir and cover
  5. After 15-20 minutes (for frozen cauliflower) add 1/2 C bone broth, stir and reduce heat 
  6. Simmer until liquid is absorbed to desired consistency.
  7. Enjoy

 

Resources:

  1. University of Arkansas, Food Safety Consortium. "To Block The Carcinogens, Add A Touch Of Rosemary When Grilling Meats." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 May 2008.
  2. Bowden, J. 150 Healthiest Foods On Earth. 
  3. N.T.J Tildesley. Salvia lavandulaefolia (Spanish Sage) enhances memory in healthy young volunteers. 
    Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. Volume 75, Issue 3, June 2003, Pages 669–674
  4. Sienkiewicz M. Antibacterial activity of thyme and lavender essential oils. Med Chem. 2011 Nov;7(6):674-89.
  5. Banerjee S1, Das S.; “Anticarcinogenic effects of an aqueous infusion of cloves on skin carcinogenesis,” Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2005 Jul-Sep, PMID: 16235990.
  6. Kumar PS, Febriyanti RM, Sofyan FF, Luftimas DE, Abdulah R. Anticancer potential of Syzygium aromaticum L. in MCF-7 human breast cancer cell lines. Pharmacognosy Research. 2014;6(4):350-354. doi:10.4103/0974-8490.138291.

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