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spice up your life! Smart Eating

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ar from being old wives’ tales, modern research has shown that common spices bring to the table a range of health benefits, from being able to reduce inflammation to beating viruses and staving off chronic diseases.

1Turmeric

This bright yellow spice does more than add a delightful flavour to curries — it can help to fight cancer, relieve pain and reduce infections. Turmeric’s medicinal properties have long been known to man, starting from ancient India when turmeric was first used in Ayurvedic medicine. A paste made from turmeric is known to speed up the healing of wounds as it stops bleeding and prevents infection. The best part is you can make it yourself! Just add three tablespoons of turmeric to three cups of water and let the mixture boil for at least eight minutes until it forms a thick paste. Stir constantly to prevent it from getting burnt. Store the concoction in a glass jar and keep it handy in the fridge. Apply the paste on cuts, sores, wounds or any affected area and cover lightly with gauze to accelerate the healing process. The juice of fresh turmeric is also purported to cure various skin conditions including eczema, chicken pox, shingles and scabies. But what exactly gives turmeric its medicinal properties? Scientists say it is curcumin — an active ingredient in turmeric that has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

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WELLNESS FOR ALL

Fragrant, fiery and earthy — spices do more than add flavour to your cooking, they can also improve your health from the inside out. By Nirmala Sivanathan


2 Chilli

Has someone ever told you to stop piling on the sliced chilli at every meal? Well, here’s why you shouldn’t listen to them! Medical research suggests that eating chilli can ease digestive disorders such as bloating, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Simply sauté (by using a small amount of oil in a shallow

pan over relatively high heat) dry red chilli — along with a handful of curry leaves — and add a pinch of tamarind and salt. Grind this mixture and add enough water to form a paste. Mix this paste into some hot rice and consume. Chilli can also prevent heart disease by stimulating the cardiovascular

Used in both sweet and savoury dishes, this spice is versatile and a boon to general good health. In fact, cinnamon has long been used to boost appetite and relieve indigestion. While traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have long revered cinnamon as a treatment for colds, indigestion and cramps, and believed that it improves energy, vitality and circulation, what modern scientists have discovered about cinnamon is

even more remarkable. For a start, more than one study has found that cinnamon can actually help people with Type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and increasing the amount of insulin production in the body. In addition to that, just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day can lower bad cholesterol, also known as LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol. So go ahead and sprinkle some on your toast and latte!

Researchers have also found that extracts from the bark of the cinnamon tree, which contains iron, calcium, manganese and even fibre, have potent anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant properties.

Most people know cumin seeds as pungent little things with a very distinctive flavour. Commonly used in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, cumin has an earthy taste that adds depth to a range of food. But more than that, cumin also appears to have a number of potential health benefits, ranging from antioxidant to antibacterial properties. The results of several studies show that the spice is effective at killing helicobacter pylori, a type of bacteria linked with stomach ulcers. A good source of iron, cumin helps to promote a healthy digestive system. In Indian cooking for instance, cumin is commonly combined with various other spices including fenugreek, black pepper and turmeric powder. Together, these spices help the body to absorb more nutrients, which in turn prevents the body from storing fat. The spice also delays the onset of cataracts.

Ginger is known for its myriad health benefits, including overcoming nausea and even reducing flatulence! It is also purported to have anti-inflammatory properties, relieving coughs and congestion arising from a cold. Sore from an intense workout session? Munch on ginger! Research published in the Journal of Pain in the United States shows that consuming two grams of ginger supplements daily eased exercise-induced muscle pain by 25 per cent over an 11-day period. Ground ginger can be sprinkled onto fresh fruits, stirred into frozen yogurt and also into hot water, lemon juice or honey for a thirst-quenching beverage. Freshly minced ginger can also be added to sautéed vegetables for an aromatic zest.

3 Cinnamon

4 Cumin

system, as well as lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels. The active ingredient in chilli — capsaicin — also acts as an antioxidant, protecting the cells of the body from free radicals (substances found in the environment and inside the body that destroy cells, thereby accelerating the aging process, and which are also purported to be cancer-causing).

5 Ginger

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