In the 16th century, spices were responsible for driving Europeans beyond the boundaries of their known world in search of the spice islands. Today we take them rather for granted or overlook spice’s value.
Several days ago, for our 39th anniversary, we went to celebrate at a tiny Indian restaurant known for its traditionally prepared dishes. It was snowing heavily, but stepping inside the door, we were surrounded by multiple heavenly aromas and warmth. Here there were no ‘flavor packets’ added to the fare– just the wonderfully rich and varied Indian spices. Alas, I did not have my camera, but it looked very much like this, and it was delicious! What an intimate way to share the different taste sensations set before us!
There is growing conjecture that we might be able to prevent many diseases altogether with common sense use of certain spices. I will share four spices with you here today.
The active ingredient in Turmeric is curcumin; it is a deep yellow/orange color. Recent research has revealed that curcumin is a natural wonder, proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease:
For use in cooking, choose a pure Turmeric powder, rather than a curry powder. At least one study has found that curry powders tend to contain very little curcumin, compared to turmeric powder. Turmeric (Curcumin) is not easily absorbed, so Piperine [a compound found in black pepper] when taken with Curcumin help improve its absorption tremendously. You might consider adding a dash of freshly ground black pepper to your cooking, and that would work the same.
Here’s How to Use Turmeric:
1. Spice up your food. Add this spice to anything, except for sweets.
2. Drink it as a tea.
3. Use a turmeric supplement if you can’t cook with it. Make your own capsules with a capsule making machine (this is the one I use). Turmeric can be used to benefit anyone: men, women (including before, during or after pregnancy, and nursing), children and animals.
Here I’m making both ginger and turmeric capsules with the Capsule Machine:
Another spice, Cinnamon (powder or sticks), is especially powerful. It affects several physiologic functions of the body. Cinnamon kills bacteria and yeasts that cause stomach ulcers and urinary-tract infections and helps the body regulate blood sugar.
But my favorite benefit is increased brainpower. A few years ago, it was discovered that just the smell of cinnamon could improve cognitive function. In that study, either tasting (technically it was chewing) or smelling cinnamon worked to improve brainpower.
A third spice that should be on everyone’s mind is Ginger. It was reported several years ago that ginger might indirectly lower the risk of Alzheimer’s through its anti-inflammatory properties. As it turns out, ginger decreases prostaglandins. These are the body’s chemicals that lead to inflammation and perhaps other chronic diseases. So ginger may ease minor aches and pains in much the same way as aspirin without the side effects such as upset stomach while simultaneously helping maintain brainpower.
Technically an herb, my fourth spice for your brain is Rosemary. This spice has similar structural and chemical properties to ginger. And, historically, this spice is actually known as the spice of remembrance. Rosemary is quite complex, with more than a dozen antioxidants and a handful of anti-cholinesterases. These are all chemicals implicated in fighting Alzheimer’s disease. This is one spice/herb that should be in everyone’s backyard or kitchen windowsill.
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“There are many foods we consider so commonplace that we attach almost no importance or value to them. Yet the things we now take most for granted – the pepper on every kitchen table, the vanilla that flavours our ice cream – were once responsible for driving Europeans beyond the boundaries of their known world. Back in the 16th century, explorers were undertaking journeys which took them literally off the map, in search of spice islands.” ~Kate Humble
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