Beyond flavor, spices have health benefits
Spices and herbs add delicious variety to the foods we eat. But spices and herbs are much more than flavor enhancers – they are nutritional powerhouses. After all, spices and herbs come from plants, which means they are sources of plant phytonutrients.
Many phytonutrients have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or even anti-cancer properties, and in the case of spices, these phytonutrients can be very concentrated. So spices do more than perk up the flavor of your food – they put a natural pharmacy in your kitchen.
For some Americans, one perceived impediment to cooking with spices is the dislike of spicy food, even though spices are not spicy hot, per se. Spices can make food richly flavorful and aromatic, but they make it hot only if you add fresh, powdered or flaked chile peppers. That heat comes with a few benefits – spicy hot food reduces the need for salt, plus it helps the body sweat and potentially remove toxins.
A handful of spices have enjoyed an elevated status, thanks to their potential to help decrease inflammation in the body: cinnamon, garlic, ginger and turmeric. None of these is a magic bullet, of course, but because they also help make food more flavorful and satisfying, there’s no reason not to use more of them.
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