Mmm. Cumin has to be one of my favorite spices because it packs on flavor without overpowering your food, much like salt but healthier. Cumin is scientifically proven to be an anti-inflammatory and can also lower high blood pressure. For those of us who are battling digestive illnesses such as IBD or colitis, a bland diet can get real boring, real quick. Cumin can add flavor to the "bland food diet" while also helping your system heal.
Cumin is best used when preparing meats as a dry rub with salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika, but it can also be sprinkled on grilled or sautéed veggies to add an extra kick of flavor.
Cinnamon isn’t just for cider and cookies, kiddies; it can be used to add complexity and depth to certain meats dishes, chilies, and soups. Cinnamon is known to lower blood sugar and can affect low-density lipid levels which can prevent heart disease. Current animal studies show that cinnamon can also prevent certain neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day is all it takes to tap into the multiple health benefits of cinnamon.
For a healthy flavor shot, boil a cup of water and add half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and about a tablespoon of honey. This combines the health benefits of both. Honey can soothe the symptoms of the common cold, help prevent seasonal allergies, soothe ulcers, and aid digestion.
Exotic and sometimes rare, saffron is considered a delicacy in many places. Due to its mighty high price tag, it can be hard to incorporate daily. However, saffron is flavor-packed, so a little bit goes a long way. The main benefits of saffron include improved cell health and better digestion.
Saffron is the go-to spice for many Spanish dishes like paella, but it can also be used to add a hearty flavor to home-baked breads.
Ah, the Italian in me cannot deny that garlic is the essential ingredient to building my grandmother’s famous Sunday gravy, but I had no idea until recently how beneficial garlic is to your health. Eating garlic regularly can help to support the immune system and can help soothe the effects of the common cold. Garlic has also been known to prevent the growth of tumors.
Garlic can be roasted and used as a spread with olive oil or butter, and it can be diced and added straight to any savory dish. It is versatile and hearty, and will add a tremendous amount of flavor however it is prepared.
5. Chili Pepper
The best thing about chili peppers is that they not only add heat but also flavor to savory and sweet dishes. Chili peppers can be grown right inside your flat, out in your garden, or can be bought fresh at the market. The key to using it as a spice is to hang it to dry for several months and then crush it or grind it in a spice grinder (I use an old coffee bean grinder), and sprinkle it on just about anything. Chili pepper has significant health benefits to the vascular system and can prevent heart attacks and strokes. It can also aid you in weight loss.
Exploring the health benefits of different spices can be an enlightening (and flavorful) experience. Now that you know just how beneficial spices can be, you may notice your dependence on spices has now elevated to full-blown addiction, but don’t worry – there are worse vices.