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Using spices in winter to benefit your health

Mon, 4 July 2016 8:00AM

pumpkin and ginger soup taste

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To beat the chill this winter and fire up your health at the same time, head to your kitchen spice rack, says Belinda Reynolds, dietitian for BioCeuticals.

When you’re in the kitchen trying to figure out what to make for dinner that night, it’s easy to get side-tracked by sauces and marinades and completely overlook your spice rack. However, you may want to change that – adding spices to your meals is a great way to boost the flavour of food without adding any extra calories, which is a major plus in winter.

A sprinkling of spice also enriches the nutritional value of your meals, thanks to the antioxidants and other active compounds that spices contain. If you don’t already have these super spices in your pantry, it’s time to add them. Experiment by adding them to your stews, curries, roasted vegetables and even smoothies.

A mainstay of Mexican, Indian as well as Middle Eastern inspired dishes, cumin belongs to the daisy family. Its claim to fame? It’s a rich source of phenolic antioxidants known to help control the spread of free radicals in the body. It’s also been traditionally used in Middle Eastern cultures to help reduce nausea.


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A potent spice with a bold flavour, cayenne is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It gets its heat from a compound called capsaicin, which science suggests can help reduce hunger and burn calories. To boost your metabolism and help tame your appetite, try adding a little cayenne to your morning smoothie or omelette.

A spice often included in Indian food that gives curries their deep yellow hue, turmeric has some serious scientific clout, with over 4000 studies backing its health benefits. Its active ingredient, curcumin, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, helping to reduce joint inflammation and the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, as well as being a potent anti-carcinogen. Although curcumin is not easily absorbed in the body, scientists have now established a patented compound, Theracurmin, which has been shown to improve the absorption of curcumin 27 times the normal rate.

SEE ALSO: Turmeric lattes are so hot right now but why?

This spice is delicious sprinkled on top of hummus, potato salad or devilled eggs as a garnish, or used for a flavour hit in marinades and dressings, or soups, stews and casseroles. It gets its bright colour from carotenoids, which are antioxidants that have been shown to help support the immune system – a win in winter.

Adding some of this sweet spice to your porridge, chia pudding, chai latte or smoothie can help support healthy blood sugar levels, as well as stimulating circulation to help you stay warmer as the temperature plummets. One of the compounds in cinnamon, epicatechin, is a potent antioxidant that’s also found in red wine, chocolate and blueberries.

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Want some quick and healthy recipes? Try:
9 super simple quinoa recipes
11 low fat soups to try this winter
10 easy and delicious brussels sprouts recipes
9 healthy breakfast recipes

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  • Posted by: beccha77 Master Fan // Mon, 4 July 2016 12:17pm

    I try to incorporate many great spices into the diet especially in winter. Curry dishes seem to have plenty of great spices in them too. I do take turmeric supplements which yes as stated in this article is fantastic anti inflammatory.

  • Posted by: cottoncandy19 Master Fan // Mon, 4 July 2016 03:10pm

    Cinnamon is my favourite. I love to put a bit in my tea

  • Posted by: Pixie96 Master Fan // Mon, 4 July 2016 06:53pm

    I like all these spices. I use them especially in winter.

  • Posted by: Bijoux Master Fan // Mon, 4 July 2016 10:03pm

    My favourite winter spices are turmeric and cinnamon.

  • Posted by: talkalot Master Fan // Wed, 6 July 2016 12:05pm

    These are all spices I like, paprika and cinnamon I only like a small amounts.
    Its good to know they are beneficial for health. They are great spices to use in winter.

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