While some people prefer bland food, it actually isn't as satisfying to the body and people tend to eat more of it, potentially leading to weight gain. It's better to keep a variety of healthy herbs and spices in a handy wall spice rack so you can make more flavorful and satisfying food. Although the research is still preliminary regarding the health benefits of herbs and spices for people, it's especially promising for turmeric, garlic, cinnamon and chili peppers.
Any spice can be used to improve health if you add it to foods as a way to limit your use of salt, sugar and fat. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting these to minimize the risk of heart disease and other health problems. Cinnamon, for example, can make foods taste sweet without a lot of added sugar. Basil, dill, sage, chili powder, cumin, thyme, garlic and rosemary are all tasty ways to flavor food without adding salt.
Turmeric is what gives mustard its yellow color. It's also one of the main components in curry powder, which is actually a spice mix and not a single spice. Its active ingredient, curcumin, has been found in some studies to help limit the risk of inflammation and decrease the risk of arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and allergies. It has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effects as well. People often use turmeric in eggs or curries or to make tea or golden milk. Golden milk, which usually contains honey, coconut milk and other spices as well as turmeric, is said to help improve sleep as well as providing the other benefits of turmeric.
Regularly using garlic in foods can help lower cholesterol by as much as 15 percent, reduce blood pressure and help improve immune function so you get sick less often. This is mainly due to the active ingredient, allicin, which is also what causes the well-known smell of this spice. Garlic works well in soups, dips, Italian dishes and dishes with meat, poultry or seafood in them.
Cinnamon is useful for flavoring both sweet and savory foods, making it particularly easy to add to your diet. The phytochemical cinnamaldehyde that it contains may help slow down neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels and help combat viruses. Add it to oatmeal, pork, sweet potatoes, sweet baked goods, winter squash and fruit salads.
Chili Powder, Cayenne and Paprika
The active ingredient in chili peppers, capsaicin, may be helpful for reducing pain and itching and preventing certain types of cancer. Some people also find that it helps to suppress appetite, making it useful for weight loss. Use chili powder in Mexican dishes, egg dishes and those containing rice, fish or pork.