This is the time of the year when spices are used in an abundance! What would Christmas baking, cooking and drinking be without all the fragrant spices being used? The smell of mulled wine and gingerbread is the smell of christmas epitomised!
But these spices not only come with great flavour, they have also been shown to have some positive health effects! For example, did you know that cloves are actually used as a natural analgesic?
So let’s learn a little bit more…
Cinnamon is the bark of trees that belong to the cinnamomum family. There are two varieties found in the shops; cassia cinnamon, the most common one and ceylon cinnamon is the one in the picture. Cinnamon has been shown to be a strong antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon has also been shown to balance blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity. This study showed that fasting blood sugar levels were reduced among people with type-2 diabetes after supplementing with cinnamon! Studies have shown that cinnamon can reduce cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the body!
Ginger is the root of the ginger plant. It has traditionally been used to reduce nausea, fight flu’s and colds and to help with digestion. It has also been shown to be a pain reliever! Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, thanks to the main bioactive compound called gingerol. Ginger can help with indigestion as it helps to speed up the emptying of the stomach!
Cloves are the dried flower buds from a tree in the Myrtaceae family! Cloves are naturally analgesic and antiseptic! Clove oil is a popular remedy to ease tooth ache for example! (try and nibble on a whole clove and you will actually feel your tongue going slightly numb!) Clove has also shown to have anti fungal properties, as well as anti-inflammatory properties!
Cardamom is the seeds of the cardamom plant. Cardamom has been shown to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. A study conducted on individuals with hypertension supplemented with cardamon for 12 weeks shown, and at the end of the study, the participants blood pressure had decreased! Cardamon may also have have anti oxidative properties that can protect your cells against free radicals!
Spices not only adds flavour, but also come with some positive health benefits as you can see! But remember, more is not always better! Cinnamon for example, (especially cassia cinnamon) should be consumed in moderation as to much can cause liver damage! But luckily, a little goes a long way!