Herbs and Spices have many benefits and can help prevent serious diseases. The regular use of turmeric, saffron, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon and cumin in everyday cooking can improve our well being and overall vitality.
The Indian subcontinent is often known as the “cradle of spices” as herbs / spices are widely used not only to add aroma and flavor to food, but also for its profound medicinal benefits.
Spices have many biological properties and synergistic effects not only provide the diseases / ailments but also improve the health and general welfare. The scientific basis of “Ayurveda” which is an ancient branch of medicine is the use of natural ingredients to nourish, strengthen and heal the body.
There is a method called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) measurement of antioxidant properties in biological samples. Research has shown that spices / herbs have the highest ORAC values to neutralize free radicals, boost metabolism and provide nutrient values for the food.
The use of spices like turmeric, saffron, coriander, cardamom and cumin have proven extremely beneficial to health.
Benefits of the most common spice in India
Its anti-inflammatory properties are due to the presence of curcumin, the pigment imparts a vibrant yellow-orange. Curcumin is a polyphenol clinically proven not only to prevent the proliferation of cancer cells, but also to help reduce the symptoms associated with various health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, joint inflammation, liver problems and depression.
Saffron (Crocus sativus flower) is a highly exotic spice prized for its color, taste and health benefits dicarboxylic acid contains a natural carotenoid called “crocin” which gives it antioxidant, anticancer, anticonvulsant and antidepressant properties.
Saffron is also a good source of potassium, manganese, calcium , iron , selenium, zinc and manganese. It is also useful to help treat vision problems, neurodegenerative disorders, atherosclerosis, arthritis, asthma, depression and gum disease.
It is not an inexpensive spice, saffron flowers as 250,000 are needed for a kilogram of pure saffron.
Cilantro (coriander) is another widely used spice in the Indian subcontinent. Basically there are seeds of the coriander plant possessing huge anti-inflammatory properties. Coriander is used to treat various ailments such as high cholesterol, anemia, blood sugar, ulcers and digestive problems.
Cardamom is closely related to the ginger family, both contain valuable chemical called limonene which has great antioxidant properties. Cardamom, commonly known as the “Queen of Spices” contains potent antioxidants and protects against many diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure and also has diuretic properties.
In Indian cuisine, it is used in the preparation of rice dishes, curries, desserts, cakes, pastries and breads is also used to flavor tea.
Cumin seeds are grown extensively in India and very frequently used in the kitchen. Cumin helps in digestion due to the presence of an aromatic compound called cuminaldehyde. It also produces an enzyme called thymol secreting various acids / enzymes that help digestion. Cumin is also known to ease respiratory problems , anemia, skin disorders and cancer.
Cinnamon and Asafetida
Cinnamon and asafoetida (celery related species) are other useful spices which aid digestion, respiratory problems and lower cholesterol levels.
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