In everyday cooking, natural spices can be very useful and beneficial for making tasty meals, a hot beverage or even a favourite baked treat! Aside from salt and pepper, consider adding some of these interesting and healthy seven essential natural spices below.
1. Turmeric “The Golden Spice”
Turmeric is a traditional Indian spice that has been used in India for thousands of years as both a spice and medicinal herb. Nutrients in turmeric include calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, vitamin B1, B2, B3 and vitamin C.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric with powerful anti-inflammatory properties and a very strong antioxidant. It is known to fight free radicals, protect the liver against toxins, aid in circulation, lower cholesterol levels, improve blood vessel health and is good for all arthritic conditions.
Studies have also shown that turmeric and especially the active compound curcumin has the potential to improve heart health and prevent against Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Adding turmeric in your daily meals like stews, soups, an omelette or even in a stirfry can help promote the benefits this amazing spice provides.
Cumin is known for its potent seed and most often is ground up and sprinkled into food as a seasoning or for even more intense flavor roasted whole before being used.
Cumin is naturally rich in iron. One teaspoon of ground cumin contains 1.4 milligrams of iron. Therefore, adding cumin in meals will increase the iron potency in the food even when used in small amounts as a seasoning. Other beneficial nutrients in cumin are manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B1 and phosphorus.
Some benefits of cumin include lowering risk of iron-deficiency anemia and may support and manage cholesterol levels. The cumin seed has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which act as a natural remedy to nourish the respiratory system and help with cough and cold symptoms.
3. Saffron “The Sunshine Spice”
Saffron is an ancient spice with an enticing fragrance that has and is still used traditionally as a seasoning and as a natural color for culinary delicacies. This valuable spice is rich in vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, C, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc, and magnesium.
The history of saffron can be traced back to 3000 years and according to the books of Ayurveda it was believed that even a few strands were enough for a healthy body and mind!
Adding just a small pinch of saffron is enough to enhance the flavor and color of any favorite dish and can help boost immunity because of its nutrients and antioxidants that it provides. The medicinal properties of saffron have beneficial effects on skin, digestion and can help uplift moods acting as a natural anti-depressant.
Clove is a versatile spice which is found in both whole and ground form. This sweet and aromatic spice can be used to season meat, add flavor to hot beverages and used in homemade baked goodies.
Adding cloves for flavor to food provides several important nutrients including calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamin A, B1, B2, and C. They are mostly rich in the essential mineral manganese which plays an important role in brain function and building strong bones.
In addition, the medicinal properties in cloves can help to support the liver and can stabilize blood sugar levels.
Cinnamon is made from the bark of the cinnamomum verum tree. This bark contains several special compounds that are responsible for its many health-promoting properties.
As one of the oldest spices in the world, cinnamon has been used medicinally for centuries as it contains natural antimicrobial, antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral properties. These immune boosting compounds help defend the body from illness and can relieve symptoms like diarrhea and nausea.
Nutrients in cinnamon include calcium, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and C.
Some additional benefits of cinnamon include better digestion especially with the metabolism of fats and it is useful for diabetics as it can help lower blood sugar levels. Sprinkle cinnamon in your favorite hot drink, on oatmeal or your favorite fruit including watermelon!
Fresh ginger root or ground ginger is one of the most popular spices in the world today. It is loaded with antioxidants and is known for its therapeutic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger can help to stimulate digestion and can help with digestive disturbances such as bloating, acid reflux and heartburn. It can also be beneficial for reducing any symptoms of nausea.
Fresh ginger root can be sliced or minced and steeped in hot water for tea or added to smoothies to give it a zesty taste! Ground ginger can be added to any favourite meal or even great to use for baking. A versatile and easy spice to add to any recipe!
Paprika is a wonderful pepper-based spice made from a variety of peppers including red bell pepper, chilli pepper and cayenne pepper. The heat level of this spice depends on which peppers are used to make the spice.
There is a distinctive variety of red colors in paprika and it is known for having a smoky, slightly sweet flavor. These red colors have a massive amount of vitamin A in just one tablespoon which accounts for almost ¾ of the daily recommended intake.
Vitamin A and large amounts of antioxidants including lutein and zeaxanthin are present in paprika which can help prevent diseases that damage the eyes and can help decrease any type of inflammatory condition.
Some of the overall health benefits attributed to paprika are also associated with the spice’s capsaicin content. It is an important nutrient found in the hot peppers which give peppers their heat. Capsaicin plays a key part in the prevention of illness and disease.
While these 7 essential natural spices can be a great start to have in your spice cabinet it is also good to slowly expand your spice collection and add more flavors so you can enhance the overall taste and profile of everything you cook!
An important tip to keep in mind when storing spices is making sure they are always sealed in a glass spice jar or airtight container away from any heat or direct sunlight.
Many spices do offer additional health benefits too and the variety of different spices can make meals taste more delicious. As William Cowper once wrote “Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.”
More from Floriana Urbisci
Floriana Urbisci R.N.C.P.
Floriana is a Registered Nutritional Health Practitioner, Herbalist and Certified Personal Trainer, as well as a member of the International Organization of Nutritional Consultants (IONC) and Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner (ROHP).
Floriana specializes in weight loss, digestive disorders, emotional and mental health disorders She is passionate and enjoys helping others to achieve and maintain their health goals.
She became interested in holistic health after overcoming her own personal health challenges with obesity and severe depression.