Super spices that should be a staple in your diet

We all know about superfoods, but we’re making super-spices a thing. While it’s important to get your 5 (or 10 as they say these days…) a day, spices can also have a profound effect on your health. We include spices in most of our health foods, and there’s good reason for it, too. Here are the health profiles of a few of our favourite spices.

Cinnamon

What is it?

Cinnamon is a Christmassy-smelling spice – yes it’s that time of year again! It also has a sweet taste. Cinnamon in its whole form  is actually the bark of the cinnamon tree. Weird to think that a tree so be so deliciously sweet isn’t it!?

Where does it come from?

It was first discovered in the early 16th Century by the Portuguese in Sri Lanka. They enslaved the island’s population to control of the spice’s trade.

Nutritional benefits:

  • Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants – its antioxidant activity supersedes superfoods, such as garlic and oregano.
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • It can lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Cinnamon can improve your body’s reaction to insulin. This means it keeps blood sugar stable.
  • It regulates your metabolism.
  • Cinnamaldehyde is the main active component of cinnamon. This can fight bacterial and fungal diseases. A tasty way to help prevent tooth decay, to say the least  Of course, don’t substitute for teeth brushing!
  • Cinnamon has a very comforting flavour. When diffused in tea it can improve your mood.

Burdock root

What is it?

The Burdock Root is a root vegetable. It is very long and brown on the outside resembling a tree root. It is a crunchy vegetable but has a sweet taste. Interestingly, it’s flavour is similar to that of the lotus root! Most of its flavour comes from just under the skin, so avoid peeling during preparation. Although it is technically vegetable, it’s flavour and aroma make it an effective spice.

Where does it come from?

It is native to northern Asia and Europe, but it is now cultivated in the US, too.

Nutritional benefits:

  • Contains antioxidants (1) including quercetin, luteolin, and phenolic acids.
  • It has detoxifying effects on the liver. This means that it helps it to produce hormones. A good hormonal balance = a happy mind and body!
  • It removes toxins from your blood and improves blood circulation.
  • Burdock root is an aphrodisiac that has positive effects on your libido.
  • It is also good for your skin. In the past it has been used to treat conditions like eczema and acne (topical application).
  • Aids digestion: this is mainly when eaten, rather than in the tea form because it is so fibrous!
  • Boosts your immune system with it’s high content of Vitamin C.

Ginger

What is it? 

A fiery spice and superfood from the ginger plant. You can buy it as a fresh root or in a ground, powdered form.

Where does it come from?

Ginger originated in Southeast Asia. It has been cultivated all over the world for centuries. For 5000 years, it has been known as a health tonic.

Nutritional benefits:

  • Ginger settles an upset stomach and can remedy nausea.
  • Various studies have shown that 1.1 – 1.5 grams of ginger can considerably reduce symptoms of nausea (especially in pregnant women – goodbye morning sickness!) (2).
  • Ginger is also anti-inflammatory and can help with osteoarthritis.
  • It has also been proven in one study to lower blood sugar, risk of heart disease, cholesterol levels, as well as menstrual pain.
  • Ginger has high anti-oxidant levels. Studies suggest this can improve brain function and protect against dementia (3).

Yerba mate

What is it?

Yerba mate is part of the holly family. The leaves are mainly cultivated because of their caffeine content. Of course their nutritional benefits play a large role, too.

Where does it come from?

Yerba mate is cultivated in South America and distributed all over the world.

Nutritional benefits:

  • It contains a wide range of antioxidants that help to reduce oxidative stress.
  • Improves cognition: the drunk as tea, it improves your memory and attention. The tea is also thought to prevent cognitive diseases, like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  • Improves digestion: compounds like xanthines help with muscle relaxation. This is great for your digestive system and for issues like constipation and bloating.
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Yerba mate reduces the effects of hyperglycemia (an excess of glucose in the blood stream). This helps with diabetes!

Turmeric

What is it?

Turmeric looks like ginger on the outside. Underneath the skin it is bright orange. It is most commonly used in curries.

Where does it come from?

Turmeric is the root of the Curcuma longa plant which is grown in India and Southeast Asian counties. It is often bought in the form of a yellow powder derived from its dried root.

Nutritional benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Good for arthritis (as a result of its anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing qualities).
  • For the same reasons it’s also great for your skin.
  • Good for obesity: the anti-flammatory quality helps improves metabolism and digestion.

Hey Hey! I’m Katie ~ the Content Editor here at Zaggora. I work with our incredible team to research health and fitness trends and working with our amazing experts and contributors. I have a passion for creative writing, going to the gym and doing home-based workouts. I also love hunting down the latest coffee houses!

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