Table of contents:
Video: Antioxidant Diet: 7 Herbs And Spices For Good Health
You may be aware that so many favorite foods are great sources of antioxidants: dark chocolate, berries, sweet potatoes, pecans, tomatoes, carrots and broccoli. But did you know that some popular everyday spices also serve as antioxidants? It is true! A pinch of this, a pinch of that and you could turn a tasty dish or drink into a healthier meal. Here is how to submit your menu to an antioxidant diet.
An antioxidant diet: what role in the functioning of the body?
First, antioxidant foods play a key role in disease prevention by cleansing the body of harmful free radicals. These in excess compromise our immune function.
Second, getting antioxidants through food and in this way, alkalizing your body thanks to your plate is not always enough. So an antioxidant diet should be supplemented with herbs and spices which will enhance the impact on free radicals.
Living in a polluted environment, we need to find the sanitary balance. So, it is the antioxidants that, acting in synergy, offer protection against free radical damage. Therefore, it is better to take small doses of several different antioxidants rather than a large amount of just one.
Antioxidants in herbs and spices
So where could you look for additional antioxidants? Think of spices and herbs! Some of these have been shown to be richer and more concentrated sources of antioxidants than the foods mentioned above. Spicing up a simple but healthy meal is good for your taste buds and your health. Scan your spice rack to not only increase the flavor of your food, but also for a boost in antioxidants, the substances that protect cells from damage.
There are over 100 spices commonly used in cooking around the world. Being concentrated sources of antioxidants, some have been studied more for their therapeutic properties than others. Flavor your dishes with a mixture of spices and you will have a double gain: good taste and an antioxidant diet.
No need to go looking for exotic ingredients - a lot of the best spices can be found in your local market. It should be noted that most studies that show benefit use supplements to control the dose of spice (or the active compound in the spice) that participants consume. Often times, these provide larger doses than what you normally eat in a day.
Cinnamon to lower blood sugar
This popular spice comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree. Used in everything from pumpkin spice lattes to Cincinnati pepper, cinnamon is called "poor man's insulin." Particularly good for people with high blood sugar, it makes foods taste sweet without adding sugar. Studies have shown that cinnamon may lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
When it comes to the effect of cinnamon on heart health, it should be noted that taking it regularly lowers high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. According to the testimonies of those concerned, if you take a pinch of cinnamon with yogurt or with a cup of kefir, in the evening, you protect your heart and lower blood pressure if necessary.
Cinnamon is not a substitute for diabetes medications or a controlled carbohydrate diet, but it can be a useful addition to a healthy lifestyle. The health benefits of cinnamon have inspired a plethora of recipes for dishes, pastries and drinks.
Meal Tip: Either sprinkled on yogurt, fruit or hot cereal or used in stews and peppers or as a spice on meat.
Turmeric to fight inflammation
Turmeric is best known for its use in Indian curry dishes. Hence, it has become a fashionable superfood for its ability to reduce inflammation - a common cause of discomfort and illness.
One of the ingredients in turmeric, the substance called curcumin, has been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain, linked to Alzheimer's disease and depression. In a small study of adults over 50, those who consumed curcumin supplements within 18 months had improved memory and mood test scores. But even more impressive! Scans of their brains showed significantly fewer markers associated with cognitive decline.
Due to its anti-inflammatory qualities, curcumin is also effective in reducing pain and swelling in people with arthritis. Laboratory studies indicate that curcumin may have potent anti-cancer properties. Considering that a combination of curcumin and a chemotherapy drug is more effective at shrinking drug resistant tumors than using chemotherapy alone. So the health benefits of turmeric are unquestionable.
Meal Tip: If you want to add this powerful spice to your diet, rub it on roasted vegetables and meats, sprinkle it over tacos, or create a curry.
To relieve stomach problems: ginger
For thousands of years, ginger has been used in Asian cultures to treat stomach aches, diarrhea, and nausea. Present in various convenient forms: lollipops, candies, capsules and teas, you can also buy dried powder at the grocery store. If you prefer it fresh, you can grate the root in teas or in seasoning recipes.
Studies show that ginger is effective in calming pregnancy-related nausea and reducing stomach pain after surgery. Other research has also shown that ginger reduces the severity of motion sickness or prevents symptoms altogether. It can even relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting when taken with anti-nausea medications. In order to avoid a negative interaction with certain medications, ask your doctor first before taking ginger during chemotherapy. As the virtues of ginger have been known for a long time, we recommend its involvement on the menu and especially, in winter.
Meal tip: Incorporate this hot spice into your diet by adding it to stir-fries, smoothies or sipping it in tea. You can also add it to homemade dressings and pastries.
The effect of garlic on heart health
Most of us are familiar with garlic, the strong-smelling bulb frequently used in cooking. But what you may not know is that eating garlic can protect your heart from the changes that lead to heart disease.
As we age, some hardening of the arteries is normal. This is called atherosclerosis and occurs when fatty deposits made up of cholesterol and other substances build up inside the walls of your arteries. Factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can make it worse. As the buildup increases over time, the arteries narrow. This can make you vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes.
Researchers have linked garlic consumption to maintaining the flexibility of blood vessels, especially in women. What's more, studies suggest that consuming garlic can lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
Garlic is a key ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, a style of eating that cardiologists often recommend. What foods are likely to be combined with garlic and can it be used in any savory dish?
Meal Tip: Combine fresh or powdered garlic with olive oil and pepper to flavor the vegetables or use it with rosemary to make a delicious meat mixture. You can also sprinkle it on soups and salad dressings.
Cayenne pepper for pain relief
Regardless of whether it is taken externally or internally, cayenne pepper overcomes certain types of pain. Typical for Southwestern cuisine and for Mexican, Creole and Cajun cuisine, this spice contains a substance called capsaicin. It is this that reduces the number of pain signals sent to your brain, acting on pain caused by arthritis and nerve damage associated with diabetes. You can apply capsaicin creams directly to the joints and muscles. Even if it sounds strange to you, consuming cayenne pepper can relieve ulcers. Although people often associate spicy foods with an upset stomach, capsaicin restricts the growth of a bacteria that causes ulcers (Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori),by reducing excess stomach acid and increasing blood flow.
Meal tip: Use this spice whenever you want to add heat to your food. It is excellent in chili, soups, stews and meat. For a fun touch, add a splash of hot chocolate.
Oregano from Mediterranean cuisine
Since the Mediterranean diet is full of anti-oxidant herbs and spices, oregano is part of this large family. The slightly bitter flavor is due to a few chemical compounds, but if you love Italian cuisine, know that oregano or even marjoram is a source of manganese and participates in certain metabollic processes, as well as in protection against free radicals.. As for the vitamin E present in marjoram, it protects the membrane of cells and in this way makes them resistant to harmful radicals.
The popular mustard
When accompanying your healthy snacks with mustard, keep in mind that it is anticarcinogenic because its seeds contain the substance allyl isothiocyanate. By blocking carcinogenic compounds in certain processed meats, mustard seeds inhibit bladder cancer, for example.
How to use spices healthily?
Whether you use fresh or dried spices, you will always get beneficial compounds, but if you fry or grill food with spices, it decreases the antioxidant content. However, microwaving, simmering, or stewing foods with spices actually increase the antioxidant levels in the spices.
If you're tempted to take supplements to increase your dose of these beneficial compounds, it's important to note that commercial products aren't tightly regulated, which means you can't be sure what the pills actually contain. Some third-party organizations perform tests to verify the quality and content of supplements. If you are considering taking a supplement, talk to your doctor or dietitian about what form and amount is right for you.
If you have a small kitchen herb garden, you need to educate yourself on how to dry them out so you have them on hand all year round.
The use of herbs and spices has been extremely important throughout history. Many were sought after for their medicinal properties long before their culinary use. Since globalization has given free rein to the dissemination of aromatic plants through national kitchens, we make sense to know about their remarkable health benefits.