The calendar period starting at Thanksgiving and ending on January 1 is laden with calories, almost all of them unhealthy. Dialing back the sweet/savory quotient, however isn’t too hard, and Indian spices make healthy eating exciting. Often lauded for their high health quotient and flavorful qualities, these spices will help you boost immunity and lower calorie intake.
1. Ginger (powdered or fresh)
Two phytochemicals in the spice – shogaol and zingerone – have anti-tussive and anti-inflammatory properties, making the ingredient a winner in flu-fighting recipes all over the world. Ginger supplements can also decrease exercise-induced muscle pain – but don’t forget to exercise first.
2. Chili peppers (powdered, dried, or fresh)
Capsaicin, the primary chemical in chili peppers, does it all: it can burn calories, suppress appetite (especially in those who don’t eat spicy food often) and prevent body fat accumulation. No need to start downing habaneros, though; a few diced jalapenos in your chili – or some chopped green chili peppers in your stir-fry – will suffice.
3. Asafetida (also known as hing)
You don’t need to know how it’s pronounced; what you do need to know is that the spice, which does need to be cooked down until it reaches a milder state, can help aid digestion, and fights symptoms of asthma and bronchitis.
The spice has shown resistance to Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria linked to stomach ulcers. It’s also a good source of iron, and can boost immunity. Counterbalance the bracing taste by pairing cumin with something mild. In India, freshly ground cumin is often sprinkled on sliced cucumbers or plain yogurt.
It’s a holiday favorite and it’s good for you! Cinnamon is loaded with manganese, iron, calcium and fiber; a pinch or two can help sate your sweet tooth. Studies have also shown consistent consumption of cinnamon controls blood glucose and pressure levels in those with Type 2 diabetes. Even a pinch or two can help you stop using Sweet n’ Low. We did a round-up of our favorite cinnamon recipes…don’t worry, they can be your favorites too.
A teaspoon of this spice – always noticeable for its bright yellow color – can add cancer-fighting cred to your curry. Turmeric supplements can suppress the growth of cells which create neck and head cancer. It also improves the effectiveness of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients.
Do you have a favorite spice? Did you know of all of these immune-boosting spice benefits?