No one wants to eat bland food, no matter how healthy it is. Spices inject a punch of flavour to meals without relying solely on salt and pepper.
Drowning your plate in salt raises your blood pressure and causes a slew of health problems, and pepper can only go so far to liven up a meal.
There are plenty of spices which add true flair to a dish while also providing some surprising health benefits.
Read on to find out our top seven spices for that perfect balance of happy and healthy.
This potent spice is for life, not just for Christmas. Try it out on your morning cereal for a flavour boost, or pop a stick into your tea with some milk and honey.
In addition to the distinctive taste, cinnamon reportedly curbs hunger spikes and cravings throughout the day. That means relying on fewer sugary snacks for energy, helping to reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Chock-full of antibacterial compounds, nutmeg prevents cavities in spite of its sweet taste. It’s also an anti-inflammatory, and some studies say it reduces the risk of cancer.
Nutmeg is used around the world, but here in the UK, it’s famous for spicing up eggnog and baking, such as apple crumble. In Scotland, nutmeg is often found in haggis.
If you’re looking for a quick win, just add a pinch to your coffee for a sweet and subtle treat.
Okay, so it’s not the prettiest of spices, but this twisted root is a true hero of health.
It calms your stomach, stops gas and bloating, and can even soothe arthritic pains. Ginger tea is a staple in some Asian countries and is used to calm upset stomachs.
Fun Fact: Because of its wide range of health benefits, ginger has been used as a home remedy and natural medicine for centuries.
- Schezwan Pepper
Journeying off the beaten track, this lesser known spice is a member of the citrus family and is not related to peppercorns, despite the name.
Sprinkle a few over your chicken as it bakes for an extra kick, or use its oil as a quirky but tasty alternative to vegetable oil.
Very popular in many East Asian countries, Schezwan pepper contains a multitude of vitamins, minerals, oils and antioxidants. They also aid digestion, making it easier to break down food, thus preventing stomach problems.
Fun Fact: A natural chemical named “sanshool” causes a ‘buzzing’ sensation on the lips and mouth.
A very potent herb, this Japanese favourite is a staple in sushi restaurants, but you can use it in your own dishes, as well.
Substitute it for horseradish to create some refreshingly different dips and dressings, drizzling it over your meat or seafood for an experience you won’t forget. You can even prepare it as a vinaigrette to liven up an otherwise boring salad.
A good source of minerals including potassium, iron and calcium, wasabi helps regulate your blood pressure and heart rate. If you can take the heat, it’s definitely worth it.
Venturing back into more familiar territory, cloves are another well-rounded spice. Antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and even anti-flatulent, this spice boasts a number of health benefits outnumbered only by its culinary uses.
From curries and marinades to hot beverages and pies, cloves can spruce up a wide variety of dishes. Pair with cinnamon or peppercorns for a satisfying blend of flavours.
Last but not least comes cardamom. An excellent source of iron and manganese, this Middle Eastern spice has been used in traditional medicines for centuries. It’s also a good source of many important vitamins, including niacin and Vitamin C.
Use this spice to garnish rice and curry, adding an intense, aromatic flavour to Indian dishes both savoury and sweet. And don’t forget to try a tasty cardamom tea!
Fun Fact: Cardamom is the third-most expensive spice in the world, but don’t worry – you need only a little bit to enjoy the flavour.
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