Spice Up Your Life!
Adding herbs and spices to dishes not only gives a dish its signature flavor (think curry for Indian food, cumin and chile powder for Latin dishes), but also in many cases the flavors are in fact antioxidants. Why are antioxidants important? In short, they slow down the aging process caused by oxidative stress in our cells. Just as the antioxidant Vitamin C in lemon juice can stop an apple from turning brown, antioxidants in food have a similar effect in the human body.
Which herbs and spices pack the biggest antioxidant punch?
- Oregano & Marjoram: try adding them to pasta sauce
- Lemon Balm: makes a great tea
- Beverages: make tea or add to lemonade or water
- Food: add to salads, chutneys, soups, spring rolls, even chocolate desserts!
- Allspice, Cinnamon, & Cloves: add to oatmeal or a baked sweet potato, or drink some chai tea
And we can’t talk about the power of spices without mentioning turmeric, a plant whose yellow pigment curcumin can benefit a huge array of conditions. To name but a few here: lung and brain disease, cancers, arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease – it even has been shown to speed recovery after surgery! Dr. Michael Greger, author of How Not to Die, suggests that 1/4 teaspoon of dried turmeric (or ¼ inch of fresh turmeric) per day is sufficient, if combined with some black pepper to help the body absorb curcumin.
- Turmeric (with black pepper): easy to add to smoothies or use in curries
Another healthful powerhouse is cayenne pepper, which has numerous benefits in addition to turning up the heat in a recipe. Repeated ingestion of cayenne (actually capsaicin, the burning component of peppers) can help alleviate many painful ailments such as headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and indigestion.
- Cayenne pepper: add to chilis, tacos, fajita veggies
Speaking of pain, ginger was found to work just as well as a best-selling migraine medicine, and also beat out Dramamine in an anti-nausea test! Ginger is also great for menstrual cramps and PMS – ⅛ teaspoon of powdered ginger worked just as well as 400 mg of ibuprofen; no wonder ginger is known in India as “the great medicine.”
- Ginger: great added to stir-fry or smoothies
Some other spices with benefits include fenugreek, which aids in improving muscle strength and weight-lifting power, and cilantro helps reduce inflammation and can counteract gout.
- Fenugreek: use in curry recipes
- Cilantro: add to salads or top off your favorite Asian or Latin recipe
This short-list only represents a tiny sample of the variety of organic fresh and dried herbs and spices available at Other Avenues, not to mention the many cookbooks we have to provide inspiration in the kitchen. E-mail us a photo of your favorite “spicy” recipe and we might post it on OA’s social media!
-Maureen, OA worker/Plant-based Nutrition Enthusiast