While spices can help add that final flavor accent to your favorite dish, they can also aid in overall health, recovery, and even weight loss. “Most of us equate antioxidants to only be found in fruits and vegetables,” says Yorktown Heights-based certified nutritionist and personal trainer Sloane Davis of Pancakes and Push-ups. “What we don’t think of is the fact that spices have loads of antioxidants and should be incorporated into your daily diet for various and very powerful health benefits.” We asked Davis to round up her top five.
“Cinnamon has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any spice. It protects against heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and arthritis,” says Davis. “Because it stabilizes blood sugar levels, it’s very effective for those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.” Sloane adds that cinnamon also helps relieve pain and stiffness in muscles and joints following a workout, sharing that, “I love sprinkling it over my oatmeal, yogurt, and coffee after exercise in my post workout meal.
“This sweet spice helps with toxins in the body, specifically eliminating the toxins,” Davis explains. “It also improves digestion and is useful for curing dental diseases and urinary tract infections, controls cholesterol, reduces inflammation, and is even know to help kill off colon cancer cells. It can also kill the bacteria that causes ulcers.”
“Garlic contains sulfur compounds that provide us with antimicrobial and antioxidant power,” Davis says. “When crushed, it releases allicin, which helps to fight strokes and heart attacks. Garlic is also known to have many cancer protective benefits.” For dinner, Davis recommends adding fresh garlic and a small amount of extra virgin olive oil to roasted or pan-fried vegetables.
“A bright yellow spice found in curry powder, turmeric has numerous healing properties and is on top as the most frequently mentioned medicinal herbs,” says Davis, noting it “can help reduce inflammation and can be helpful for arthritis in aiding with aches and pains” and is “used for [treating] gastrointestinal treatment, namely colitis, stomach pain, Crohn’s disease, bloating, diarrhea, IBS and gas,” as well as being useful in combating or controlling cholesterol, headaches, and regulating blood fat levels following a meal. “I love adding Tumeric to chicken dishes and then adding brown rice for a well balanced meal,” she says. “It’s such a fragrant herb and makes a great addition to a healthy egg-white salad as well.”
“Ginger is known to reduce pain and inflammation,” says Davis. “Ginger also is used for relieving digestive issues and problems such as nausea, upset stomach, IBS, loss of appetite, pain, and motion sickness. Numerous studies also show that ginger improves attention span and memory in middle-aged women.” Davis adds that ginger’s other uses include pain relief from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, menstrual pain, cough, migraines, and diabetes. Her favorite way to consume the salubrious root is with a fresh serving of sushi.”
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