Let’s imagine that you already have your diet looking pretty good. You’re getting a good balance of your carbs, proteins, and fats, or maybe you’re one of those Keto fanatics and that’s alright too. There is no one-size-fits-all nutrition plan for everybody out there. We each need to eat in the way that works best for us while giving ourselves the most energy and vitality possible.
The foods that I am about to mention here are not meant to become the staple of any diet but they are high-quality herbs and spices that have shown positive effects on the human body for one reason or another. They can become a great addition to any person’s already well-balanced and established nutrition plan. These are also favorite additions to my own day to day cooking because of their beneficial health effects and flavor.
Turmeric is a popular spice in India which has been used for thousands of years in both cooking and medicine. The bio-active compound in turmeric that makes it such a potent health food is curcumin.
Curcumin has been shown to have a slew of health benefits when ingested including decreasing inflammatory markers in the body and increasing the body’s own anti-inflammatory enzymes. Chronic inflammation within the body can lead to all sorts of health diseases as we age, including diseases of the heart and even diseases of the brain, like Alzheimer’s for example.
Curcumin can also play a role in increasing cardiovascular function by improving the quality of the lining of the blood vessels. Curcumin has also been shown to help fight and prevent cancer, decrease depression symptoms and even improve the symptoms of arthritis in some studies.
Plus it tastes good! Mix some of this spice in with your daily meals and reap a few of these positive health benefits for yourself today. Turmeric is what gives curry powder it’s yellow color. Turmeric works well combined with fried rice, cooked meats, or even as a coating on homemade sweet potato wedges.
I hope you like your food spicy, because if you do, cayenne pepper is a great addition for your nutritional arsenal! Cayenne pepper contains a biochemical compound called capsaicin which creates the heat and sometimes painful punch that we receive when indulging in our favorite sweat-inducing foods. This is also the compound which provides a slew of health benefits.
Cayenne pepper can be a great pain reliever if you suffer from headaches, joint or nerve pain. Part of the reason for this is because it draws attention away from the affected area to the slight discomfort that you feel from the heat of the pepper, but it also decreases your body’s ability to feel pain temporarily by depleting the chemicals which are responsible for sending out pain signals in the first place.
Cayenne pepper also encourages better blood flow throughout the body and can be useful in preventing blood clots or heart attacks because of its ability to clear dangerous lipids from the lining of your arterial walls while simultaneously dilating the blood vessels to aid in easier transportation.
Cayenne pepper also makes for a great hunger suppressant and can help to normalize the body’s resting glucose levels, it can aid in digestion and it can soothe symptoms of digestive irritation. There is also a healthy dose of vitamins and antioxidants packed into these little peppers. So load up on your cayenne and make those foods hot.
Cinnamon is another great addition to a healthy diet, and it’s fairly easy to work into the average person’s meal plan. Cinnamon works great in shakes, on top of cereals or oatmeal and even mixed in with sweet potato or squash.
Why is cinnamon such a powerhouse in the nutritional world you ask? Well, let me tell you…
Cinnamon is another great stabilizer of blood sugars within the body. It can help to regulate your fasting glucose levels and decrease spikes in blood sugars when consumed with heavy carbohydrate meals. Cinnamon is great at lowering our bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, it lowers blood pressure by widening the blood vessels and even acts as a natural defense for the body against microbes like bacteria, fungi, and parasites. All of this makes cinnamon a valuable addition to any diet if you enjoy the taste!
One last thing, be sure that the type of cinnamon that you are adding to your foods is a true “Ceylon” cinnamon and not the Cassia type of cinnamon which is cinnamon-like in flavor without most of the beneficial oils. The Cassia type of cinnamon can even be toxic to mammals in high doses. Unfortunately, Cassia is one of the most common forms of cinnamon found on the supermarket shelves in North America, so read your labels!
One teaspoon of cinnamon per day is enough to start reaping some of the major benefits of this amazing spice.
There you have it, 3 great additions to an already well-balanced eating plan that can take your nutrition and health to the next level. It will also add some flavor to those foods! Get creative and start experimenting with healthy eating.
Cooley, J. (Sept, 2018) 5 Fascinating Health Benefits of Cinnamon. Retrieved from https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/nutrition/health-benefits-of-cinnamon/
Ruggeri, C. (May, 2018) Cayenne Pepper Benefits Your Gut, Heart & Beyond. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/cayenne-pepper-benefits/
Gunnars, K. (July, 2018) 10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric