Spice up your
have been a part of our culture for centuries, and are an integral part of our
You use spices while cooking for the same reason most people do, it makes the
food taste better.
However, spices not only excite your taste buds, but are composed of an
impressive list of phyto-nutrients, essential oils, antioxidants, minerals and
vitamins that are essential for our wellness.
Rashida Shehabi, a practicing nutritionist and mother; tells us why we
should use our spice racks more than our medicine cabinets.
Kali Miri (Black pepper)
Black pepper, is often referred to as the “king of spice.”
Peppercorns comprise of health benefiting essential oils which increase the
gut motility and improve our digestion, by increasing gastro-intestinal enzyme
secretions. These oils also increase absorption of selenium, B-complex
vitamins, beta-carotene, as well as other nutrients from the food.
Pepper is also a good source of anti-oxidants and helps protect us from
several types of cancer.
Tuj is an excellent source of magnesium and a good source of iron,
dietary fiber and calcium. Cinnamon is also a proven anti-inflammatory,
improves cardiovascular health, increases metabolic rate, helps control and
regulate blood sugar, and has anti-microbial effects (reduces the growth of
bacteria in food).
Cloves are known to have antioxidant, anti-septic, local
anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, rubefacient (warming and soothing) qualities,
hence they are useful in dental care procedures.
Its carminative and anti-flatulent properties help relieve indigestion and
constipation problems. The spice buds contain Vitamin A, Vitamin-K, Vitamin-B6
(pyridoxine), Thiamin (vitamin B-1), Vitamin-C and Riboflavin.
Methi (Fenugreek seeds)
The seeds are a very good source of soluble dietary fiber which
helps lower blood LDL-cholesterol, assists in smooth digestion and helps
relieve constipation related ailments. The fibers also bind to toxins in the
food and help to protect the colon mucus membrane from cancer.
It has been established that amino-acid present in the fenugreek seeds
facilitates insulin secretion. In addition to this, the fiber in the seeds
helps lower rate of glucose absorption in the intestines thus controlling
blood sugar levels. The seeds are therefore recommended for diabetic patients.
Cardamom is a great source of magnesium, dietary fiber, iron,
calcium, Vitamin C, and potassium.
It detoxifies the body, improves kidney, bladder, and digestive functions as
well as circulation, may alleviate gas and symptoms of asthma, stimulates
appetite, may help with acid reflux and is said to improve halitosis (bad
Ajwain (Carom seeds)
Ajwain helps increase the digestive function of the intestinal
tract by increasing gut juices (gastro-intestinal secretions). Thymol, the
essential oil obtained from ajwain has local anaesthetic, anti-bacterial and
antifungal properties. Ajwain seeds are rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins, and
Rye (Mustard seeds)
Mustard seeds are very rich in phyto-nutrients, minerals, vitamins
and anti-oxidants. Being one of the chief oil seeds, mustard is also very high
in calories; 100 g of seeds provide 508 calories.
Mustard seeds are an excellent source of essential B-complex vitamins, vitamin
E and selenium.
Dhana (Coriander seeds)
Coriander is rich in dietary fiber which binds to bile salts and
decreases their re-absorption in colon, thus they help lower LDL cholesterol
levels. Together with flavonoid anti-oxidants, the fiber composition of
coriander helps protect the colon mucus membrane from cancer. Coriander seeds
are a good source of Vitamin C unlike other dry spice seeds.
Saffron contains important antioxidants that help protect the human body from
oxidant-induced stress, cancer, and infections. The active components in
Saffron also have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines;
as Saffron has several important properties - it is antiseptic,
antidepressant, digestive, and anti-convulsant in nature.