Healthy Herbs and Spices

  • By:  Santosh Choudhury

Several spices and herbs—such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, onions, mustard oil, cloves, and cardamom—provide excellent health benefits. Including these herbs and spices in your diet is easy, and you will be rewarded with better health!

Turmeric is a culinary spice of bright yellow color. It’s a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent. It improves liver function, relieves arthritis pain, benefits skin problems, and is antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and an excellent source of iron and manganese. Turmeric capsules (500 mg) are available in drug stores.

Cinnamon, also a common spice, is helpful for colds, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, and blood circulation, has beneficial effects on blood sugar, and is antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory.

Mustard oil reduces cholesterol, keeps the body warm through massage, and is an antioxidant, good for heart, and antifungal. It can also protect teeth and gums if rubbed on them and can be used as moisturizer when used lightly. It adds an excellent flavor in cooking vegetables/meat. In the U.S. mustard oil is sold labeled “for external use only.”

Cloves have an active component of “eugenol.” It is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antiseptic. Cloves relieve diarrhea, flatulence, sore throat, and can be used as breath freshener. Clove oil relieves toothache.

Cardamom helps in digestive disorders, lung congestion, scratchy throat, cold and cough, and has warming effects. It is also an excellent breath freshener. 

Onions provide important nutrients and health-promoting chemicals. They are a good source of Vitamin C, B6, biotin, chromium, B1, folic acid, and are anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and antiviral. They also contain calcium and iron, are low in sodium, and contain no fat. They have anti-cancer agents and lower blood sugar levels. (Tip: Chop 1/4 of a large Vidalia onion into small pieces; add 6-8 teaspoons of plain yogurt, salt and black pepper to taste, and mix well. It’s tasteful and healthy.)

Garlic is also very healthy. It’s anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-oxidant, prevents high blood pressure, certain cancers, cold, and flu. It produces a chemical Allicin, which benefits health. Fresh cloves are more beneficial than dried.

Ginger relieves arthritis, muscle soreness, cough, cold, and pain, reduces nausea and helps lower LDL cholesterol. Fresh ginger is more effective for health purposes.

Experiment with recipes featuring these ingredients, and you will improve your health while enjoying tasty flavors.  

Santosh Choudhury, Ph.D. is a freelance writer from Virginia Beach.

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