Eating healthy shouldn’t mean eating bland. Thankfully, there are several spices that can add some excitement to your everyday meals that don’t just add flavor, but a ton of natural health benefits, too. The medicinal lifestyle known as Ayurveda, originating in India, actually has this as the basis of its philosophy: certain spices balance the body and provide your system with extra energy, and other surprising advantages – besides, that is, just being downright delicious. So, unlock the potential hiding in your spice cabinet by trying one or more of these vivacious flavors to boost your wellness repertoire.
Tastes like: The bright yellow root can be described as bitter and sweet, and goes well with other curry flavors like black pepper and ginger.
Can help with: Curcumin is the active antioxidant in turmeric, so the spice is a star when it comes to reducing inflammation, particularly in your digestive system.
Can Good in: Commonly used in curry, but you can also try it in tea, or on roasted vegetables.
Tastes like: It has a nutty flavor, but slightly herbal, too, since the seed comes from the parsley family. It is a main ingredient in Garam Masala spice blend, and pairs well with hot spices.
Can help with: Digestion, for one. It has also shown effective through various studies in helping with weight loss, reducing blood glucose levels and generally being good for colds and infections thanks to its high anti-inflammatory properties.
Good in: Lentils, curry, or chili.
Tastes like: Bitter maple syrup, celery, or burnt sugar.
Can help with: Constipation, soothing an upset stomach, lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation, boosting your libido, and (for all breastfeeding moms) increasing lactation.
Good in: Curry blends, mostly, but you can also try it in other stews and soups. The flavor mellows when cooked.
Tastes like: Cayenne is basically just a red hot chili pepper, and it’s as hot as the band circa 1994.
Can help with: Increasing metabolism to aid in burning calories, but it will also help suppress your appetite, provide temporary pain relief, and relieve congestion.
Good in: Add to dressing, lemon water, or use it to heat up practically any dish that needs an extra punch.
Tastes like: The spice is sweet and somewhat spicy, with earthy hints, since it comes from cinnamon bark.
Can help with: Reducing inflammation, as it has a high antioxidant content. It can also lower blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol, act as an antifungal solution, and treat the symptoms of allergies.
Good in: Sprinkle over yogurt, oats, or in desserts, or go savory and add it to curries and stews.
Tastes like: It’s kind of spicy and warm in the dried form, but is spicy and fruity when fresh.
Can help with: Treating nausea, most commonly, but is also great for your intestines in general due to its high concentration of phenolic compounds which relieve irritation.
Good in: Curries (if you haven’t realized by now, curry is as much a blank slate for spice creativity as anything), as well as stir-fry, smoothies, tea and soup.
Tastes like: Licorice.
Can help with: Increasing lactation for new moms, as well as combatting flatulence, making it a helpful natural remedy for babies with colic and for people suffering from indigestion or IBS.
Good in: Curry, baking bread, in sausage, and in sauces
Keep in mind: Everything in moderation. Spices make for a great natural remedy in most cases, but never try to treat a serious condition yourself without first consulting your physician, particularly if you are or may be pregnant.