September 2017 – Spice up Your Life

It’s been a while since I wrote something about nutrition. Feel free to browse through past posts for all kinds of other interesting facts and ideas about nutrition, diet and weight loss. This month I thought I’d share a few things about three commons spices that can contribute to great health.

Turmeric: contains curcumin which is an anti-inflammatory agent that helps reduced internal inflammation caused by lifestyle factors, including poor nutrition. It may also help fight some cancers and is being studied for its role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

Turmeric is delicious sprinkled on roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, steamed fish and just about any other cooked food. Most curry recipes call for turmeric, black pepper and a combination of other spices. Curcumin is not well absorbed in the gut, but black pepper improves its absorption. A simple blend that you can use anytime includes equal parts of turmeric, cumin and corriander. This blend is said to help with digestion. It won’t hurt and it will add a little flair to your food.

A caution: turmeric stains! It will leave a yellowish residue on plastic spoons and even on your food processor. If you get it on your clothes, you may never get it out. So wear an apron; they’re meant to be stained!

Cinnamon: may help people with diabetes lower their blood sugar and LDL cholesterol ( the “bad” cholesterol). It may also help improve insulin sensitivity and is said to help prevent Parkinson’s disease. Since cinnamon contains antibacterial properties, it may ward off illness.

Cinnamon is usually thought of as a sweet food ingredient used in puddings and other desserts; however it can also be used in savory dishes like chilies and tagines.  A simple way to add some cinnamon to your diet it to sprinkle it on tea or coffee. Just sprinkle a teaspoon of cinnamon on top of the coffee grounds in your drip coffee maker and push start.  Adding a cinnamon stick to a potpourri blend will keep your room smelling sweet.

Cayenne Pepper: cayenne pepper is known for boosting metabolism and reducing appetite. Used in combination with a healthy lifestyle, physical activity and a well balanced moderate to low calorie diet, it can help with weight loss. Capsaicin is the main active ingredient in cayenne pepper. It acts as a natural pain reliever when added to topical creams applied to the skin.  The sensation of heat that is generated when applied to the skin in a cream can help reduce pain, manage arthritis and shingles and soothe general nerve pain. Capsaicin may also help treat circulation problems and it thought to act as a decongestant.

Cayenne pepper tastes great in chilies, salsas and other tomato based sauces. It can also be added to chocolate recipes to bring out the cocoa flavour. Just use it in moderation. Kale chips, roasted nuts, stews and even smoothies can also benefit from a dash of cayenne. Try it out and get to know how your taste buds like the heat of cayenne. Adjust accordingly and enjoy the benefits.

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