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Ever since I learned how to cook, I have been incorporating a variety of spices and herbs into my meals simply because I love the flavor. But when I found out the incredible benefits they were providing me, using them more often became a no-brainer.

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Adding spices and herbs to your dishes is also a great way to keep other ingredients that can be detrimental to your health, such as salt, added sugars, and saturated fats, to a minimum. But make sure to use them at their peak, since the active compounds in herbs and spices are devalued over time.

In the past, many have viewed science as a means of bringing us that which we’ve never experienced before — using technology to provide synthetic options to better our health. But thankfully, modern day science has also done a lot of digging to uncover the medicinal properties of that which is, simply put: of the earth.

In reality, spices and herbs have been used to heal for centuries. Even 2,500 years ago, Confucius was attributing the consumption of ginger at every meal to improved digestion, while Ayurvedic medicine, which originated in India more than 3,000 years ago, has used spices and herbs to both heat and cool the body in relation to the balance of the digestive system.

So whether you’re looking for something sweet, spicy, or savory, let these herbs and spices, backed by plentiful studies, be your go-to for health boosting benefits like large amounts of antioxidants, antibacterial properties, the ability to lower blood sugar, inhibit the growth of cancer cells, alleviate nausea and pain, reduce inflammation, and so much more.

Cinnamon

cinnamon

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Source: Authority Nutrition

Many people love cinnamon for its sugar-like taste. Sprinkled on toast, in a drink or mixed into a dessert recipe, it’s a staple in many of our kitchens. It also boasts powerful medicinal properties. Made from the inner bark of trees called Cinnamomum, this spice, which originated in Sri Lanka, is filled with antioxidants, which protect the body from cancer-causing free radicals. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and, according to the Mayo Clinic, powerful anti-diabetic properties as well.

Cumin

Growing up, every time I asked my mother what made any dish of hers taste so good, she always referred to cumin. It’s now one of my favorite spices to incorporate into dishes as well, and the benefits are just a bonus. Just like cinnamon, this Mediterranean spice has been found to lower blood glucose levels. A plethora of studies have also found that it can kill bacteria known as Helicobacter, which are linked to stomach ulcers. And black cumin in particular can aid in the reduction of inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Turmeric

This beautifully bright orange spice, which is part of the ginger family, comes from the root of the curcuma longa plant, and has been found by the National Health Institute to treat a variety of ailments, including arthritis, heartburn, and stomach pain. It can also be used topically, working to heal skin inflammation and infected wounds. A study in The Journal of Biological Chemistry also found that the powerful antioxidant known as curcumin found in the spice works to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy when used for breast cancer patients.

Cayenne Pepper

You may have recently noticed that this spice is becoming a regular ingredient in juice cleanses for its ability to both stimulate circulation and neutralize acidity within the body. This hot-tasting red powder contains the health-benefitting compound called capsaicin, which offers relief for joint pain, and one study even found that this specific compound might help to prevent lung cancer in smokers. Cayenne also has anti-irritant properties, and can help to ease the discomfort of sore throats, coughs, and diarrhea.

GingerGinger Root

Source: Mother Earth Living

This spice, a flowering plant that originated in China, has long been known as a reputable source for soothing upset stomachs, aiding in digestion, and fighting the flu and common cold. Gingerol, which is the main bioactive compound found in the spice, can be thanked for many of its medicinal properties. Studies have shown that the spice also has the ability to alleviate muscle pain and soreness, reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar, reduce heart disease, and fight cancer.

Rosemary

Native to southern Europe, this pungent perennial herb is a member of the mint family and has been found to have a variety of health benefits. Studies show that rosemary may be able to help cut your risk of cancer by cooking your meat with it. For instance, when ground beef patties are cooked, carcinogenic compounds are produced. This herb works to reduce that production due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Thyme

Thyme

Source: Pet Net

Another member of the mint family, this herb is popular in aromatherapy as an essential oil complete with anti-viral, anti-septic, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and anti-rheumatic properties. One study even found that thyme can reduce COX-2, an enzyme responsible for promoting inflammation, pain, and fever, in cells by 25 percent at the least, while its oil can lower the levels by almost 75 percent.


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