What prompted us to touch on the subject of health benefits of spices, was an article in the Sunday Times of 18th November 2012, titled “The Dye is cast on the Fabric of Taste” which is frightening to say the least. At Lanka Spice, quality is an obsession and all our products are carefully chosen with the support of a well equipped laboratory facility.
In the face of such articles, it is easy to forget the health benefits of spices. In the earliest days of trading, Sri Lanka was known as the “Spice Island”. Spices have been an essential part of our long history and cultural heritage due to their use in foods to enhance taste and their health benefits.
Today people are looking to change their dietary habits, by pushing away curry sauces towards the old gentle mélange of spices. Spices can be used, partially or totally, to replace less desirable ingredients such as salt, sugar and added saturated fat in marinades and dressings, stir-fry dishes, casseroles, soups and curries. The medicinal properties of spices are being studied extensively.
Spices that reduce Bad Cholesterol
High Cholesterol levels increases the risk of heart disease and stroke and is a problem that is faced by many people today. Cholesterol is made naturally by our body and also comes from the food we eat. Spices such as Cinnamon, Turmeric and Ginger are those that help reduce levels of Bad Cholesterol (LDL – Low Density Lipoprotein).
Cinnamon has been used in a vast number of cultures for different medical problems. Today, Cinnamon still plays a vital role in many health claims from treating diabetes to cancer. According to Reader’s Digest, a Pakistani study found that 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon daily can reduce bad cholesterol in people with Type 2 Diabetes by nearly 30 percent and cut total cholesterol by 26 percent.
Add a teaspoon of cinnamon powder mixed with a teaspoon of honey to your cup of herbal tea and feel the difference yourself.
When considering cholesterol lowering foods, don’t forget the health benefits of turmeric. Turmeric is not just a culinary spice but also possesses many health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Early studies have revealed that turmeric can lower bad cholesterol and total cholesterol in the body. Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, acts as a messaging molecule and directs genes in the liver to increase production of messenger proteins to rid the body of bad cholesterol.
It is better to obtain the pure form of turmeric to enjoy the highest levels of curcumin. Use curcumin to flavor curries, lentil soup, stir-fry, and as a seasoning for meat and fish.
Ginger plays a major role in flavouring of foods. Studies showed that ginger may lower cholesterol levels and prevent blood from clotting. Ginger also relieves pain from arthritis or muscle soreness, menstrual pain, upper respiratory tract infections, cough, and bronchitis. Ginger is also sometimes used for chest pain, low back pain, and stomach pain. The juice of ginger also can be used to treat mild burns.
A home remedy for indigestion is to grind a few slices of ginger and mix in half a lime with a bit of salt. No water is to be added.
At “Mc Currie” we choose the best raw materials for our Cinnamon Powder, Turmeric and Ginger Paste. Our Cinnamon Powder is a firm favourite among both locals and foreigners, whom we believe know the secret of its influence on lowering cholesterol!
The list of spices that have medicinal values are extensive and this is just a glance at how you can stay healthy. We will bring you more in our next article.