Food isn’t just the way to heart; it is the way to good health. What we eat more or less affects overall health. This is why consuming food which is high in nutrients and vitamins is always emphasised. We have a glorifying history of using various ingredients in cooking a meal. Herbs and spices have dominated Indian cuisine for their rich flavours and aroma. Our kitchen is a box full of surprises for health benefits. Recall your grandmother cooking, and you will know the different kinds of herbs and spices she used, to stir a meal which was rich in taste, healthy and also had medicinal properties.
Few herbs and spices which are commonly used in our kitchen can give the following benefits:
Cloves come from the family of Myrtaceae. These are aromatic dried flower buds often flavouring Indian Cuisines. Apart from the immense aroma, this spice is a natural means to numb pain. An anaesthetic to cure severe toothache and the oil from cloves can be useful to treat arthritis and sore muscles. Clove can be included in your cooking for both sweet and savoury dishes.
Freezing cold and a cup of a ginger tea sound perfect, right? Yes, it is, because ginger has a plethora of advantages to be included in your food. It can be used to relieve cold, settle an upset stomach and treat nausea. The gingerol contains in it help reduce arthritis pain, bronchitis, sore muscles and also menstrual pain. The famous homemade khada has ginger as its essential ingredient which we usually take for illness.
Turmeric is a very common spice used in our cuisine. The bright colour that a pinch of turmeric adds to a dish makes it more luscious. Apart from the colour, turmeric is largely used for medicinal purposes. The curcumin constituent of the turmeric is the reason behind the anti-inflammatory properties. In some cases, it is known to reduce the pain from osteoarthritis as well as rheumatoid arthritis. Packed with antioxidants, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties, turmeric should be a definite ingredient in our diet.
In use since ages, Cinnamon gives dishes a taste of its own. Cinnamon is praised for its ability to manage diabetes, improves insulin sensitivity, lowers cholesterol and also reduces gas and tummy bloat. Cinnamon can be added to baked goods or sprinkled over it to add flavour and also include in other recipes.
Commonly known as elaichi, world’s third most expensive spice comes from India, Bhutan, Indonesia and Nepal. An important ingredient used in Indian sweets this spice is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, zinc, manganese, and potassium. Being so rich in nutrients, cardamom has various health benefits attached to it, such as lowers blood pressure, improves metabolism, prevents blood clots, treats skin infections and helps fight depression.
Basil has antioxidant properties and can help cardiovascular health. Very common to households in India, this herb has a range of benefits including – helps treat respiratory infections, inhibits the growth of bacteria and boosts the immune system of the body by increasing the immune cells. Also, some suggest that basil can help in reducing anxiety and depression.
Another herb largely found in India, mint has varieties such as peppermint, spearmint and wild mint. Peppermint can be used to treat cold, throat, sinus and respiratory infections. Spearmint is widely used to treat gas, indigestion, nausea, diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome. If your concern is how to include mint in your diet, well it is easy because mint is versatile, it fits anywhere. You can add this to juices, candies and various chaat recipes.
There is more to this herb than just garnishing. Coriander, commonly called dhaniya is a ubiquitously used herb in all recipes. It is good for the eyes; the antioxidant properties can help treat conjunctivitis and anaemia as it contains high amounts of iron. Rich in vitamin K, coriander can help treat Alzheimer’s disease.
A member of the mint family, thyme is largely used in Mediterranean cuisine. It has grey-green leaves, a sweetly earthy flavour and a pungent minty lemon-like aroma. Thyme can help in the treatment of muscle cramps; women especially who experience severe cramps during their periods can take thyme tea to reduce the pain and also is recommended for treating PMS. Thyme is an excellent source of Vitamin K, iron, calcium and manganese. These minerals help in bone health, promoting proper bone growth and development, and reducing the risk of bone disorders.
Sage is used for gastrointestinal health, treat depression, memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Generally, used in small amounts because of the strong aroma and earthy flavour. Sage is a widely used ingredient in toothpaste because of its antimicrobial properties. During menopause, our body experiences a decline in the hormone estrogen which can cause symptoms such as hot flashes, excessive sweating, vaginal dryness and irritability. Sage can help reduce these symptoms.
A healthy stomach ensures a healthy body as the stomach is the cause and cure to many diseases. We must understand what food we are feeding the stomach as it can have impacts adverse and otherwise also. Check through these herbs and spices, which are nature’s best cure and include them in your diet in appropriate amounts. Results from these are not immediate; good things take time.