The herbs and spices in your kitchen cabinet help create fragrant, flavorful dishes at home, but they also do a whole lot more for your physical wellbeing.

With anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties, herbs like turmeric and cumin relieve arthritis, treat digestive problems and infections, and prevent cancer. In fact, studies have shown that their benefits and effects are just as potent as pharmaceutical medicines and supplements. The best part about it? They don’t produce the strong (and oftentimes nasty) side effects that commercial drugs often come with.

Below is a brief list of the best herbs with healing properties. They are easy to find, easy to cook, and sometimes just sitting in your tin of ready-to-drink tea.

 

  1. Turmeric

The turmeric plant is a source of curcumin, which is what provides the vibrant yellow color that this herb is known for, as well as its medicinal properties. Known for its piquant flavor, turmeric is most commonly used to treat arthritis.

However, a study by science consultants Susan Hewlings and Douglas S. Kalman elaborates on the herb’s anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is present in many chronic diseases and conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons, allergies and asthma, cancer, and depression.

The study reads: “Curcumin has been shown to block [proinflammatory substacances] increased by several different inflammatory stimuli.”

 

In the kitchen: Ground turmeric is best used in soup, curry, and stews. Additionally, ½ teaspoon of turmeric adds a pop of color to rice dishes.

 

  1. Cumin

Typically used in Mediterranean and Indian cooking, cumin is an easy favorite for all foodies – and it supports weight loss and lower cholesterol levels too!

Research shows that cumin is rich in phytosterols, which is a compound that resembles cholesterol. Certified nutritionist Traci Joy quotes a 2002 study Annual Review of Nutrition, and explains that “phytosterols compete for absorption with cholesterol in the digestive tract.”

However, phytosterol itself is not easily absorbed by the human body, and therefore cholesterol levels are nonetheless lowered during this process.

 

In the kitchen: Hummus and homemade tacos sprinkled with cumin are absolutely divine!

 

  1. Cinnamon

Thousands of years before the decadent cinnamon roll was invented, this spice was used for medicinal, perfuming, and embalming purposes in the kingdoms of Egypt and Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka).

Just like turmeric and cumin, cinnamon has its own share of anti-inflammatory and anti-cholesterol properties. Notably, however, cinnamon is rich is polyphenols, phenolic acid, and flavonoids, which fight oxidative stressors (and therefore, disease!) in the human body.

In an article published by Health.com, a recent study from Penn state found that a diet rich in cinnamon promotes better heart health. Upon adding two tablespoons of spices (including cinnamon) to their fatty meals, researchers found that the spices reduced triglycerides by 30%.

 

In the kitchen: Start your morning right by adding cinnamon to your pancakes, oatmeal, and breakfast muffins. If you’re all out of ingredients, sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on toast.

 

  1. Ginger

Every Filipino already knows that a pot of salabat is the cure to everything, but how does it actually work?

6-Gingerol is a compound that fights inflammation and infection. It is isolated from the rhizomes or root of the ginger plant. This impressive substance can treat all kinds of ailments: arthritis, muscular aches, fever, digestive problems, among others. And ladies, 6-Gingerol is known to be very effective in relieving menstrual cramps and morning sickness.

Most importantly, 6-Gingerol has been found to aid in cell cycle regulation, and inhibit angiogenesis – a process in which new blood vessels are formed, usually stimulated by tumors in order to further grow and develop. It can be easily said that ginger is your home cure for almost anything!

 

In the kitchen: Add ginger to chicken broth for that soulful fragrance. If your sweet tooth is calling, grate a bit of ginger to your cup of hot chocolate – you’ll thank us later!

 

Sources:

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29065496

https://www.livestrong.com/article/123621-sources-statins/

http://www.health.com/nutrition/health-benefits-of-cinnamon

https://draxe.com/10-medicinal-ginger-health-benefits/

 

Cathy Dario
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