I love herbs and spices. In fact I consider them to be my wild card, my secret super power buddies. 🙂 I have always loved them, and have grown them for years (actually herbs are the only plants I seem to be able to grow with some success), and I have used them in my cooking for a long time. But like many people, for a lot of years I thought of them mostly as great ways to add flavour and beautiful garnishes to dishes. What I didn’t realize until more recently was how INCREDIBLY powerful they are in terms of health benefits.
So I thought it was high time to do a few blog posts about this incredible food group and give them some of the attention they truly deserve.
Today I want to start with a couple of my favourite spices: ginger and turmeric. I use these two gems almost every day.
Ginger is rich in phytonutrients call gingerols, and has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial AND anti-viral properties. It is well known for helping to reduce nausea, and perhaps less well known (but scientifically proven) to help reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis and LDL cholesterol. It has also been shown to help migraine sufferers. Here’s some more info from nutritionfacts.org on the benefits of ginger if you’re interested. I use ginger in my smoothies, juices, as well as in a lot of the ethnic dishes I cook. One of my favourite ginger-containing smoothies is Ginger Pear Joy, which is included in this recent blog post that I did on smoothies (scroll down to find it).
Turmeric is such a powerful spice that Dr. Michael Greger, among others, recommend getting some in every single day. Also known as Indian Gold, it is one of nature’s most powerful healers. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, and it is best absorbed with a couple of turns of black pepper. Curcumin is a compound that is so powerfully diverse and rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory actions that it has been shown to protect and improve the health of almost every organ in the body! Turmeric has been shown in studies to be more effective at reducing inflammation than aspirin; it can be used to soothe digestive problems, speed wound healing and prevent infection, it’s an analgesic that can relieve headaches, a stimulant to improve blood flow. It can be used in a topical paste to clear skin problems and as a decongestant to clear nasal passages. And if that’s not enough, it’s a powerful anti-cancer agent. Ways to get it in? One of my favourites is golden milk. There are plenty of varieties out there, but here’s the recipe I use:
- 1 mug of plant-based milk (soy/almond/cashew etc)
- A few slices of fresh ginger
- A few slices of fresh turmeric OR 1 tsp dried
- A pinch of fresh black pepper
- Pure maple syrup to taste (optional)
Add the milk and spices to a saucepan and heat over low-medium heat until steaming. Put into your mug and add sweetener to taste. You can make a similar drink more like a tea by using water instead of milk and adding some fresh lemon juice.
However, a caveat with turmeric. Since it IS so powerful it’s important to use it in moderation (1/4 tsp per day is all you need), and certain people should use it with caution. Those who are pregnant, have gallstones, or are susceptible to kidney stones may want to moderate their turmeric consumption. For more on the benefits and proper use of turmeric, see these videos on nutritionfacts.org.