Spices were some of the most valuable ingredients in the ancient and medieval world. Folk practitioners and herbalists have used plant remedies for thousands of years, but only recently have experts begun to study the powers of spices and herbs 1 2 . Spices or their active compounds can be used as possible preventive or ameliorative agents for these health ailments.
Spices are very rich in antioxidants, and scientific research suggest that they are also powerful inhibitors of inflammation and tissue damage caused by circulating lipids and high levels of blood sugar 3 . Because spices are relatively inexpensive and have low calorie content, they are reliable source of antioxidants and many other bioactive compounds in diet.
My patients often ask me which spices to include in their diet, which are the healthiest spices? That’s why, together with the rest of the Your Health Tube team, we decided to dedicate this article to the healthiest spices in the world.
Spices can make our food better. They are used not only for flavoring, but also for preserving and coloring food. Or just to hide some other flavors.
The World’s Healthiest Spices
While science has yet to prove that spices may cures disease, there is compelling evidence that several might help manage certain chronic conditions (although it is always smart to consult with your doctor). And evidently, seasoning your mils with spices allows you to use less of some other ingredients associated with many health issues, as salt, sources of saturated fat, and added sugars.
Following, we present you a list of 7 of the healthiest spices enjoyed all around the world.
Turmeric belongs to the ginger family, and is a root stalk of a tropical plant. It has a bright golden color and it adds a strong flavor. You can find turmeric in everything – from Indian curry to traditional American mustard.
You can use this spice in many Southeast Asian recipes, including soups, rice dishes, curries, pilafs; and chicken, vegetable, and lentil meals. Also, use it to add a punch to chutneys and relishes.
Saffron has been used in traditional Persian medicine for centuries, particularly as a powerful mood lifter, often steeped into a medical tea or used in preparation of rice. According to a study from the Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, saffron can help to relieve symptoms of depression and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) 4 .
In one study, about 75% of women with symptoms of PMS who consumed saffron capsules every day reported that their PMS symptoms (as depression and mood swings) dropped by at least half, compared with only 8% of women who did not take saffron 5 .
You can add saffron in preparation of rice, it also pairs well with tomatoes, shellfish, onion and garlic.
- Vanilla Paste
Vanilla extract is very common in various dessert recipes. Though, the new, modern generation of chefs might start calling for vanilla paste instead. Vanilla paste is quite better than vanilla extract due to its flavorful flecks of the aromatic vanilla bean. This paste has the same benefits as the authentic vanilla bean. However, it’s so much easier to use, and it has even more concentrated flavor than the vanilla extract.
The flecks of vanilla bean could be principally appetizing when used in some single-color dishes such as sugar cookies, vanilla frosting, and ice cream.
- Smoked Serrano Chili Powder
Serrano chili peppers are well-known for their bold and spicy heat. You could find serrano chilies that are smoked and nicely ground into a scented powder.
Chili powder adds a rich and smoky zest and lively heat to your favored dishes, including a variety of Southwestern and Mexican dishes, casseroles, stews, chili, and egg dishes.
*Note: To begin, use small amounts of these spices and herbs to see whether you like them.
- Saigon Cinnamon
Saigon cinnamon, prized for its spicy and sweet aroma and taste, is considered the most flavorful and finest cinnamon in the world, as well as one of the world’s healthiest spices.
Cinnamon is an old favorite called for in hot oatmeal, fruit crisps, cookies, and fancy coffee drinks. It is also a common spice for main dishes (including seafood, lamb, and chicken) from some international cuisines such as Greek, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mexican. Saigon cinnamon is also a main ingredient in the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup named pho.
You probably already love cinnamon in raisin bread, cinnamon rolls, cinnamon sugar topping, and pumpkin pie. You can also try some healthier choices – you can add it in your coffee, dash on sweet carrots or potatoes, stir it into peanut butter for celery sticks, and sprinkle it on oatmeal. This spice can keep your arteries healthy, lower cholesterol, and manage blood sugar levels 6 7 .
Cocoa is much more than a nice hot drink to enjoy after skiing. Even though not really a spice, cocoa can jazz up marinades and sauces providing a savory and rich flavor. Meals made with cocoa as a spice will make your heart smile, too – its flavanols have been proven to enhance circulation and reduce blood pressure– sending blood to the right places 8 .
Ginger is known to calm down an upset stomach and morning sickness, but now it is also associated to reducing pain. The potent chemical in ginger, known as gingerol, blocks nerve pathways responsible for the pain, and helps reduce inflammation 9 10 . Apart from steeping ginger in your tea, you can add it to your vegetable stir-fly in order to give your meal an extra zing. That’s why ginger is on the list of the healthiest spices in the world.
The abovementioned spices are some of the healthiest spices in the world, selected by our professional team (known as Your Health Tubers). There are also many other powerful spices and herbs that can benefit your health and give your meal delicious taste. Spice up your life with these spices that benefit your well-being as much as they do your taste buds: From keeping your arteries clear and your heart healthy to reducing pain and preventing cancer, these everyday great flavors will add a healthy punch to all your meals.