A healthy diet encompasses a wide range of whole foods--and the same goes for spices. Incorporating different spices into your meals not only adds variety and flavor to your food, but it may also have some health benefits. If you're not seasoning your food with anything beyond salt and pepper, try some of the following spices to expand your palate--and possibly enhance your wellness.
Cinnamon: This spice smells and tastes good, and is good for you, too. In a study of people with type 2 diabetes, daily cinnamon intake reduced cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides (fats in the blood that can be a marker of heart disease and stroke risk). Other studies suggest cinnamon can have a positive effect on various brain functions. (USE IT: Sprinkled on fruit or oatmeal, in baked goods, savory stews, tea and smoothies)
Ginger: A spice that translates well in both sweet and savory dishes, ginger is used to curb nausea or other stomach upset, and it can work as an anti-inflammatory. It can also help relieve muscle soreness, according to a report published in the Journal of Pain. (USE IT: In tea, Asian dishes such as stir-fry, baked goods, smoothies and salad dressings)
Cardamom: A study in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention points to this spice's tumor-prevention properties; other studies find the spice may work as an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. (USE IT: In tea, Indian dishes and baked goods)
Cayenne: This hot spice can help curb appetite and promote weight loss (cayenne-spiked lemon water is a popular detox drink). It also can act as an antibacterial and has been used to relieve pain and improve circulation. (USE IT: In any dishes where you want a little heat)
Turmeric: This spice has historically been used to treat digestion issues as well as inflammation--it's been suggested in studies that its anti-inflammatory component could help fight diabetes, cancer and heart attacks (USE IT: In Indian food such as curry, rice and grain dishes and on poultry)
What are your favorite spices to cook with? Share a comment with us!