Spice up your health

Spice up your health

Garlic for high blood pressure

For some, this flavor bomb can be a source of awkwardness because of its strong aroma. But the sulphur-containing compound, Allicin, that is responsible for garlic's pungent odor is also its best asset: it contains antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Eating garlic has been proven to regulate blood pressure and prevent thrombosis.

Spice up your health

Thyme for a nasty cough

While you might have only seen a few, there are over 200 different types of thyme. The most common is the "Thymus vulgaris" — the bush-like plant with tiny, but pungent leaves and small lilac-colored flowers. The naturally occuring Rosmarinic acid found in thyme is known to lower cholesterol levels. Thyme is also a traditional remedy for colds and is commonly used as an ingredient in cough syrup.

Spice up your health

Cinnamon for a speedy metabolism

Cinnamon is said to have an accelerating effect on the metabolism. But the fragrant spice does contain one particularly harmful element: coumarin. This naturally occurring flavor can lead to liver damage in sensitive people (although the damage can usually be reversed). Cassia cinnamon contains much larger quantities of coumarin compared to Ceylon cinnamon.

Spice up your health

Saffron to soothe the mind

If you want to treat yourself to the expensive, vivid red threads to embellish your spice collection, you'll also be doing your health a favor. Studies have shown that saffron has a positive effect on our psychological wellbeing and can help with depression. The smell of the spice alone is said to alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Spice up your health

Anise for a stomach ache

Although anise and the star anise shown above are not botanically related, they both contain an essential oil that has a similar composition and is responsible for the liquorice-fennel smell. Anise is best known for its antispasmodic effect on the digestive tract. Both types of anise are also said to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Spice up your health

Ginger for inflammation

As far as taste is concerned, ginger might be a divisive one. But hardly anyone denies the beneficial effect of the root for fighting the onset of a cold. In Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, ginger has long been used as a remedy for inflammation — for example, in rheumatism or arthritis. The root also contains pain-relieving essential oils and antioxidants.

Spice up your health

Turmeric for, well, everything!

This bold, yellow-colored spice is commonly used as an ingredient in curry powder. It's said to have three main health benefits: it lowers cholesterol levels, has an antioxidant effect and reduces inflammation. And because it slows down age-related changes in the brain, it could reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.

Spices and herbs not only add an extra dimension to our food, they're also good for our health. And we're not even talking about the exotic ones — most of these are probably already in your kitchen cupboard.