Are Spices Good For You?
During the Roman Empire, spices had become more valuable than gold. When Europe discovered the flavor enhancing qualities of India’s spices, they went wild. At that time Europe already had salt, but salt alone just wasn’t enough. Europe cried out for more flavor and more taste. Thanks to the trade routes between Rome and India, Europe was able to get what it needed: peppercorns, cinnamon, and other spices. In this era of human history, the health benefits of spices were common knowledge. People knew that delicious spices could fight diseases and banish pain from the body.
This brings us to Garam Masala, a staple of authentic South Asian cuisine. Garam Masala (translated “spicy mixture”) is a blend of traditional South Asian spices, usually containing: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and occasionally other spices incorporated into the blend. The good news is that spices actually slowdown the ageing process while promoting weight loss. As for the bad news, there is none. So enjoy the following list of the health benefits of four wonderful Garam Masala ingredients!
Black Pepper comes from a creeping vine. This vine produces berries known as peppercorns, which are plucked, dried, and roasted to produce black pepper. Black pepper contains a type of antioxidant that is so powerful that it does a lot of good in small doses. Piperine, what gives this pepper its heat, is anti-bacterial and anti-carcinogenic. Black pepper increases the body’s ability to absorb vitamins, minerals, and proteins/aminos. This is important for getting in shape because the body needs proteins and vitamins to build lean muscle. Black pepper, while a natural metabolism booster, also contains a compound that breaks down fat cells. Furthermore, it improves skin complexion and fights against skin cancers. Black Pepper is high in Vitamin K and manganese, which assists the body in metabolizing fats and carbs. Black Pepper has a high fiber content, which reduces calorie intake.
Like black pepper, cardamom is native to India. It grows in a 1-2cm long pods; inside are clusters of tiny seeds. Cardamom relieves gas, heart burn, and soothes upset stomachs. It flushes toxins from the body (good at detoxing caffeine) and increases blood circulation. It is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-carcinogenic. Its sweet aroma makes it a natural breathe freshener. Cardamom is a boon to cardiovascular health because it reduces the formation of blood clots while lowering blood pressure. An outstanding source of manganese, one teaspoon of cardamom holds 26% of the daily value.
The bark of the cinnamon tree is usually sold rolled or grounded. This versatile spice, native to Sri Lanka, enhances sweet and savory dishes alike. Cinnamon is helpful to those with type-2 Diabetes because it lowers blood sugar levels while increasing insulin production. Cinnamon’s anti-fungal properties make it good for fighting the yeastlike, parasitic fungus Candida. Research studies have shown that simply smelling cinnamon boosts brain functions like memory. The smooth aroma of this lovely brown spice fights bad breath, and kills the bacteria responsible for it. Cinnamon is a natural painkiller and contains a potent antioxidant. It is an excellent source of calcium and fiber.
Cloves are dried flower buds of the evergreen tree. These sweet-smelling buds are pink, but turn brown once dried. Cloves are outstanding at relieving tooth aches and used worldwide for this purpose, even by some dentists. Cloves boost the metabolism while removing toxins from the blood stream. Because cloves have a blood purifying property, this spice supports a healthy immune system. A proven aphrodisiac, studies have shown that cloves boost sexual activity in male mice. This piquant spice improves cardiovascular health by preventing the formation of blood clots while regulating blood sugar levels. You might not guess, but cloves are higher than any other food in antioxidant content. They provide an excellent source of calcium and vitamin K. While low in Omega 6’s, cloves are impressively high in omega 3′s.
So there you have it. Spices are good for your health. Ever wonder why so many Americans are overweight? It could be because we shy away from spices. America likes salt and pepper, but seems to draw the flavor line right there. So go out and eat some spices!
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