As a strong, powerful taste enhancer; millions of dishes around the world benefit greatly from the inclusion of spices. Traditionally the bastion of the East and humid countries, spices are enjoyed for both their taste and unconventional ability to cool the eater down. However, the multitude of different spices at our disposal come with almost limitless health benefits; making their inclusion and often intelligent choice.
An almost ever-present in Indian Cuisine and Eastern medicine; turmeric is a multi-functional member of the ginger family. Turmeric has been used for generations and generations to help clear both internal and external infections in India. Its medicinal benefits have been proven by doctors at UCLA who found that the main component in turmeric, curcumin, appears to help block an enzyme that can lead to the growth of cancerous cells in the head and the neck.
The spice also has powerful anti-inflammatory potential. Dr Randy J. Horwitz, medical director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, revealed: “Turmeric is one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories available.” It is hoped that the use of turmeric could help ease the inflammation suffered by arthritis patients.
Cardamom is another spice native to India and heavily used in the cuisine of the country. The spice which has a strong aromatic taste has long benefitted the inhabitants of South Asia who have used it to fight teeth and gum infections, treat sore throats and help decongest the lungs. This multi-purpose spice has also been recorded in use to break up kidney stones and gall stones to allow them to pass through the body more easily.
Cardamom is also reported to be used as an antidote for snake and scorpion venom.
The potassium within cardamom helps regulate cell and body fluids and can contribute towards controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
One of the most versatile of the spices; cinnamon is widely represented in both sweet and savoury dishes throughout the traditional cuisines of many countries around the world. The use of cinnamon is as prominent in a fragrant curry dish as it is in a stylish café latte.
This widespread use can benefit its consumers with its lengthy list of medicinal uses. Consumption of cinnamon can greatly help those who suffer from type 2 diabetes as its helps to control blood glucose levels. Early research further suggests that cinnamon extract could aid sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease.
Coriander has been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years with; the spice was traditionally used in Iran to help relieve anxiety and insomnia. Similarly to cinnamon; coriander has been found to contain components that can help treat type 2 diabetes, mimicking the traditionally administered medicine, insulin.
The seeds of the coriander plant have been found to have a hypolipidaemic effect which can help lower cholesterol levels.
One of the most instantly recognisable tastes and fragrances in the world; garlic is used in a seemingly endless number of dishes all around the world. Studies suggest that the consumption of garlic, like coriander seeds, can have a positive effect upon high-cholesterol sufferers, lowering the level of cholesterol in their vascular walls.
More common afflictions that can be treated with the help of garlic include the common cold, chest infections, digestive disorders and fungal infections. Cherokee Indians used garlic as an expectorant for coughs and croup.
During WWI and WWII, garlic was used in the trenches to combat the onset of gangrene.