Can we use natural plants and their seeds (spices) for better health? In today's world of adding some specific, highly refined exogenous substance to our health system we have gone down a path that believes in the "miracle drug" as our cure all. For sure the discovery of penicillin was literally life changing for millions of humans avoiding pain, suffering and deaths. That is good. However what is better is to prevent any human from needing to use something like penicillin or other drugs at all. Obviously if one is injured and an external infection is allowed through the injury then it's nice to have an antibiotic IF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM NEEDS HELP. The ideal is for the immune system to be capable of not needing any external medication and that is the direction of looking at our daily diet as our arsenal of "sickness prevention".
The blog owner, Monica Bhide, writes often of the use of culinary spices and herbs and provides tasteful Indian recipes on how to use. India's mainstay in medicine is Ayurevedic which is a system of using native plants species for specific ailments and adjusting not on a singularity basis, but on a more holistic approach to identify and treat as the illness accelerates or decelerates. Ayurdvedic medicine is a form of medicine that is best explained in Western societies as viewing how we use vitamins to stay healthy and pharmaceuticals to treat when diet/supplements fail. Ayurevedic tends to treat using both principles but the use of natural spices in diet alleviates the need of so many pharmaceuticals for illness therapy.
Below article is from A Life of Spice blog by Monica Bhide and describes several spices that have a history of helping our body stay strong and be able to fight off certain disease processes. The best arsenal we have to prevent illness can be found in our back yard or local produce supplier.
Health Benefits of 4 Spices
Health Benefits of Spices by Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD
Indian Spices For the Health of It
I’m excited to be guest blogging for Monica today. I had the privilege of hearing her speak at this year’s Eat Write Retreat conference, where we got to chat a bit. When she suggested I write a post about the health benefits of Indian spices, I was all in– after all my blog is called a Teaspoon of Spice (which I co-write with my business partner, Serena Ball.) As a food-loving dietitian, I emphatically believe healthy food should always taste delicious. Any nutrition tips I share are usually accompanied by a tasty cooking tip or a yummy recipe.
Fresh herbs and spices are an important part of upping the flavor ante of healthy dishes. But guess what? It turns out they also add a powerful nutrient punch to recipes. While there is no specific recommended “daily doses” of spices (because the research on the health effects of spices and culinary herbs is still emerging), adding spices/herbs to every meal is a good rule of thumb. And it’s not a hard thing to do when you like to cook!
Here’s a breakdown on some popular Indian spices:
Cayenne (Red Pepper)
Benefits: Considered one of the “Seven Super Spices” – because it has higher levels of antioxidants and with promising health benefits – cayenne is a great source Vitamins A & C. Some research indicates that cayenne could help decrease appetite and rev up your metabolism; but don’t go on that cayenne pepper cleanse just yet. Those calorie-burning effects are minimal; so instead rather, enjoy cayenne in your food as much as your spicy tolerance levels allow.
Uses: Cayenne is popular in Indian, Mexican, Italian and Cajun cuisines and used to flavor meats, chili, seafood, fruit and vegetables – basically, add it to any food you want to make hotter!
Recipe: Lychee Pineapple Salad
Benefits: Another antioxidant-packed spice, coriander is being researched for its possible role in lowering blood cholesterol. It’s also is a decent source of several minerals including iron and calcium.
Uses: Often a part of garam masala and curry spice blends, try coriander in soups, stews, beans, dressings, marinades, burgers, meatballs, chicken and fish. The seeds are delicious when toasted and then grounded. (In America, we refer to the fresh stems and leaves as ‘cilantro’ and the seeds as ‘coriander.’)
Recipe: Gorgeous Chicken Skewers
Benefits: Cumin is a rich source of iron (1 tablespoon provides almost half of your daily iron recommendation) and also has potential anti-inflammatory effects. Other possible benefits include fighting off bacteria, lowering blood sugar and warding off certain cancers.
Uses: Add to chili, dips, salsa, beans, chicken, pork, fish, grains and root vegetables. Cumin is usually a part of garam masala, too, and is fantastic when paired with coriander.
Recipe: Cumin & Chickpea Flatbread
Benefits: Monica has professed her love for this gorgeous golden yellow spice and with good reason, as turmeric is another one of those “Seven Super Spices.” With fairly powerful anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric is a good-for-your-heart spice to have on hand. It’s also a source of iron and manganese.
Uses: Commonly found in curry powder; try adding turmeric to chicken/tuna/egg salad, rice, fish, dips, soups and vegetables like peas and potatoes.
Recipe: Monica’s Fish Curry (her dad’s favorite!)
(All photos and text courtesy of Deanna Segrave-Daly)