spicesWhen cooking, we frequently head to the spice rack to add flavor and kick to our favorite meals. Many of the spices used on a regular basis add more than seasoning to our dishes, they add tons of nutrients and other health boosting properties in a low calorie and inexpensive way. With more and more of the impressive health and medicinal benefits of spices being revealed daily, the pantry is the new medicine cabinet.

Almost everyone loves cinnamon. Its flavor packs as much punch as sugar, but it is much healthier for you. In fact, it’s a very nutritious addition to your diet. The high content of minerals, fiber, magnesium, iron and calcium contributes to heart health. Adding it to the diet has been shown to increase energy, boost the immune system and lower glucose levels. In addition, cinnamon is a natural healing agent that kills bacteria– including E-coli — and viruses in the body and in the air (think essential oil.) According to Mercola.com other benefits of cinnamon include assisting with digestive health, relieving congestion, managing pain from joint stiffness, arthritis and menstrual cramps, and preventing urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease.

A member of the ginger family, the active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Believed to
have medicinal properties, turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and
has long been used to treat cuts, burns, and other skin conditions. It is also a potent
natural anti-inflammatory and pain killer. Used in Chinese medicine to treat depression,
the peppery flavored spice is a natural liver detoxifier. Research cited in Mercola.com also suggests that turmeric may be helpful in treating inflammatory bowel diseases, lowering cholesterol counts, protecting the heart, relieving indigestion, improving liver function, and even preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth in several different cancers, including breast, colon, prostate, and lung, as well as childhood leukemia.

Ginger is best known as a natural remedy for an upset stomach. It can relieve vomiting,
gas and intestinal discomfort and, when taken regularly, can prevent the onset of
nausea to begin with by stimulating the salivary glands, making it a go-to additive for the
prevention of morning sickness (any time of day) and motion sickness. Studies have
also shown the effectiveness of ginger as a pain reliever, including for the relief of
soreness after exercise. Rich in vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and copper, ginger is considered an herbal medicine, that, when made into a hot tea, releases gingerol and protease, which rushes the body with warmth and increases cardiovascular circulation.

The list of herbs and spices with nutritional benefits is seemingly endless and worth a
look (and taste!) for a naturally flavorful way to improve your diet. As with vegetables,
nuts and seeds, the key to reaping the most benefits is to use a variety of different
spices regularly and in the most unprocessed state possible.