May 22, 2013

Health Benefits To Spicing Things Up

Last week we started a conversation about the health benefits of spices, and today we will continue with more information for you to spice up your health.

Fennel seed is surprisingly effective at relieving indigestion.  Fennel is easy to grow, and it keeps coming back year after year.  It can settle the stomach as well as many over-the- counter products.  Fennel seed relaxes the smooth muscles that line the digestive tract, relieving flatulence, bloating and gas, as well as nausea and vomiting, motion sickness, and abdominal pain.  Store-bought fennel seed also works well.  Fennel seed can be eaten whole (it tastes and smells like anise), or made into a tea by pouring boiling water over it.  Use ½ to 1½ teaspoons per cup.  There is a caution using fennel – because fennel seed can increase estrogen levels, it should be avoided by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding or who have an estrogen-sensitive medical condition, such as estrogen-responsive breast cancer.

Garlic is known for its positive cardiovascular health effects, but did you know that it also boosts immunity, so is helpful in preventing the common cold?  To help cure or prevent a cold, add a clove or two of garlic to all soups, sprinkle garlic powder on toast, and/or mix diced raw garlic with olive oil and vinegar to add to salads or as a bread spread instead of butter. 

Saffron, a spice derived from a small, blue crocus, acts as a potent antidepressant and has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for this purpose.  No one is sure how it works, but its active ingredient, corcetin, appears to enhance blood flow to the brain.  Research conducted has shown that 30mg per day of saffron powder (about one-tenth of a teaspoon) relieved mild-to-moderate depression as effectively as standard doses of the antidepressant medications Prozac and Tofranil.  Saffron can be used in herbal tea or chicken paella.

So we’ve seen quite a few spices that when added to our foods can spice up our health and quality of life. 

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