Health Benefits of Spices
More than just flavor enhancers, studies have indicated that there is a wealth of health benefits associated with herbs and spices. The practice of using foods and herbs for their healing properties can be traced to ancient China, Japan, India and Greece. The legendary Emperor Shennong is venerated as the Father of Chinese medicine, and the Greek physician Hippocrates, originator of the Hippocratic Oath, is famous for saying, “Let food be thy medicine.”
Today, although not considered scientifically proven, ongoing research on medicinal plants and herbs is supporting some of the anecdotal information supplied throughout history, and an increasing number of health practitioners are embracing the effectiveness of natural remedies.
For those wanting to learn more about the potential health benefits
of herbs and spices, I encourage you to purchase a book by one
of the world’s leading experts on the therapeutic use of culinary spices, (Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD), with Debora Yost (Sterling, 2011). In it he states, “Worldwide, researchers have linked culinary spices to the prevention and treatment of more than 150 health problems. Spices, they have found, contain compounds that fight oxidation and inflammation, the two processes underlying most chronic diseases.” Summing up his feelings about healing spices, Dr. Aggarwal says, “May spices be the friend of your health and the pride of your kitchen!”
Now, I’m not a chemist, nutritionist or researcher, but I’m convinced, based on results I’ve seen in my life and the lives of friends and customers, that including spices in your diet can be beneficial to your health.
Here are 5 of the 23 ingredients we use in our spice blends and their health benefits. (You can find the list of all the ingredients in our "Spices for Life" Cookbook)
‘Alaea Hawaiian Red Sea Salt- May have nearly 20% less sodium chloride and as many as 80 trace nutrients derived from minerals present in sea water and the iron-oxide found in clay. These minerals are typically stripped from iodized table salt, and anti-caking agents and other chemicals are often added. According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s best to limit sodium to less than 2,300mg a day (less than a teaspoonful), and some of the best ways to reduce intake are to buy low-sodium or no-salt-added products; rely less on packaged, prepared or ready-to-eat foods; cook more at home and add herbs and spices to recipes.
Cardamom - Reduces blood pressure and is a natural antioxidant. Improves circulation to the lungs and is thus considered good for asthma and bronchitis; relieves flatulence and strengthens digestion activities; is anti-spasmodic; has an expectorant action; freshens breath; treats against oral and genitourinary disorders; and helps prevent bouts of flus.
Cinnamon - Has anti-clotting benefits and anti-inflammatory properties; boosts brain function; is extremely rich in antioxidants; has antimicrobial properties that can stop the growth of bacteria, fungi and yeast; controls blood sugar levels; may help prevent heart disease and diabetes.
Coffee - Contains vitamins and minerals and is the richest source of antioxidants in the modern diet. Improves mood, reaction time, memory, vigilance and general cognitive function; raises the metabolic rate and helps to mobilize fatty acids from the fat tissues; and enhances physical performance. Lowers the risk of type II diabetes, Parkinson’s and liver cancer as well as dementia, Alzheimer’s and cirrhosis.
Turmeric - Is high in antioxidants; is rich in iron and helps with anemia; treats depression; has antibiotic, antiviral and antioxidant benefits; relieves pain; has potent anti-inflammatory properties and helps protect against cancer; helps prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and treats many skin ailments; is a natural liver detoxifier.
Not Medical Advice
Again, please note that spices should not take the place of regular medical advice or treatment. But if you want to enjoy herbs and spices for their culinary taste, medicinal properties and low calorie content, there’s no better way than to season foods and cook with Ka‘iulani Spices Rubs & Seasoning just like my husband and I do almost every day.