9 magical spices and herbs you need to get in your diet

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Sometimes, in fact, most of the time we get stuck on the macros, and forget the micros. No, I am not talking about life issues here, but about the food we eat.

The messages about veg versus non veg protein, good versus bad fat, how much fibre is enough, are carbs best avoided or eaten, sugar or saturated fat – which is a bigger devil et al cloud our mindset so much that the real issue, about the micronutrients that are body needs, just as importantly, maybe even more than the major nutrients, gets lost amidst those heavy-weight headline grabbers.

But the fact is that our body needs all the essential minerals and vitamins, both major as well as trace everyday too – to keep chugging along efficiently. Every single action in the body requires these. And this “need” can be met well very easily by using herbs and spices liberally in our cooking.

The benefits are many

Herbs and spices are potent potions with nuanced sweet-sharp flavours, which make the food delicious and are a perfect way to add taste, flavour and zest to low-fat or low-sodium diets. In fact, even to regular diets. Plus they stimulate all our senses, open up tastes that are unusual, and also boost the health quotient of the food exceptionally. Precisely why they have been used extensively since ancient times. Our own Ayurveda swears by them, as does ancient Chinese medicine.

Though herbs and spices have been used for hundreds of years to heal, science is finally substantiating their healing powers: to alleviate arthritis ache, reduce high blood sugar and cholesterol, and to help prevent and even treat multiple other conditions.

Research has also uncovered their amazing new power: ability to kill cancer cells. Yes! Now, of course, it is well known that they are loaded with hard to find antioxidants too, besides hard to find trace minerals and vitamins.

I have already written about the multiple benefits of the golden spice turmeric, ginger and garlic a lot, below are my other favourites. Read on as I explain why I believe why these nine need to be part of everyone’s diet.

Cinnamon: Seasoning a high-carb food with cinnamon can help lessen its impact on our blood sugar levels.

Cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, reducing the rise in blood sugar after eating. Studies also show that it helps lower LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides.

Rosemary: This herb has a lot of cancer-protective potential.

It helps prevent carcinogens that enter the body from binding with DNA, the first step in tumor formation.

Plus it is known as the herb of remembrance too, as it improves memory.

Holy basil (Tulsi): most of us grow Tulsi in our homes. It helps reduce stress by increasing adrenaline and nor adrenaline and decreasing serotonin; plus it inhibits breast cancer.

Ajwain: also known as carom seeds helps in maintaining our digestive health.

They also stimulate appetite, and are rich in fibre, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.

Saunf: also known as fennel seeds are used to prevent flatulence and upset stomach (that is why it is often taken after meals).

Plus iron and histidine (an amino acid) found in fennel are both helpful in treatment of anemia.

Cardamom: helps to protect the gastrointestinal tract, cleanse the blood of bad cholesterol, improve circulation, and even prevent some forms of cancer.

Coriander seeds: stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin which leads to a more balanced blood-sugar, and thus is diabetes preventive. It also keeps a lid on the blood-lipid levels, by helping the liver in balancing and improving overall cholesterol levels.

Cloves contain a chemical called eugenol that is anti-inflammatory and helps the heart.

They are also ranked very high in antioxidant properties.

Nutmeg: Like cloves, nutmeg also contain eugenol, has strong antibacterial properties and myristicin in it inhibit an enzyme in the brain that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease.

Next week: Habit 4: Make friends with fat

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