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Aug 13, 2010

8 Spices for Your Health

Chili Peppers

Did you know that red chili peppers can help reduce high blood pressure? Research has also found that the ingredient that gives chilies their heat also helps the blood vessels relax. Researchers say that areas of China where spicy food is part of the diet have lower rates of heart disease and blood pressure than those with milder diets.

With that in mind, we look at ways to spice up your life and give yourself a health boost with exotic ingredients.


A natural medicine for centuries, it eases feelings of nausea for pregnant women with morning sickness or patients undergoing chemotherapy. Its main active ingredient is gingerol, which is thought to encourage blood flow and ease pain. Ginger can also help with sore joints because it has anti- inflammatory properties. It is rich in antioxidants to help the immune system.

How to eat: Try making your own ginger tea with root ginger and hot water. Add lemon juice or honey to sweeten.


An all-rounder, cinnamon is used in the treatment of colds, extreme period pain and diarrhea. It boosts circulation and is good for the digestive system. Studies have also shown it may help lower blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. It is also said to reduce cholesterol.

How to eat: Sprinkle on rice pudding or on hot toast with sliced banana.


A strong anti-inflammatory, it helps fight arthritis and bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. It is one of nature’s most healing plants. Research has shown it may also prevent Alzheimer’s, reducing the build-up of plaques in the brain by half in tests and reducing brain tissue inflammation.

How to eat: Best added to curries, egg salads or rice dishes.

Green Chilis  

These tasty treats are great for slimmers because chilies increase your metabolic rate, helping weight loss. They contain capsaicin, an anti-inflammatory that clears mucus from the nose and lungs, helping people with colds. Chilies also kill bacteria that cause stomach ulcers and can reduce cholesterol.

How to eat: Take hot chilies in curries and add milder chilies to stir-fries.


These aromatic seeds contain an oil that helps stimulate digestion and relieve flatulence. Cardamom is an ancient spice, native to India, found in desserts, vegetable, curry and pilaf rice dishes.

How to eat: Relieve indigestion by crushing a handful of seeds in half a cup of water with some ginger root, then add warm milk and honey.


Wasabi is a rich source of isothiocyanates. These are the same anti-cancer chemicals found in broccoli and cabbage. These isothiocyanates appear to activate enzymes in the liver which detoxify cancer-causing substances before they can damage the body. It also helps with inflammation associated with diseases such as arthritis, asthma and allergic reactions.

How to eat: Put a smidgen of wasabi paste on your favorite raw vegetable.


The oil from cloves is a well-known treatment for toothache and its antiseptic properties make it an excellent mouthwash. The main ingredient in the oil is eugenol which can also help ease the stiffness and pain associated with arthritis. It is a warming spice which can reduce congestion and stimulate digestion.

How to eat: Add to lovely, warming mulled wine.


It produces sulphur compounds that relax blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and ensuring the health of vital organs. It also staves off colds and is packed with antioxidants, so is another weapon in the fight against cancer. Given the obvious side-effect, it’s best not to pack food with too much garlic but it works well in curries.

How to eat: Try slow roasting a whole head of garlic in the oven. The cloves will pop out of their skins and can be served on delicious warm bread.

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Posted: Friday August 13, 2010, 11:45 am
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Lyn Z.
female, age 71, divorced, 2 children
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