If variety is the spice of life, think about how much greater life is because of the variety of spices out there! Add to that the many excitingly delicious kinds of spices used in Indian food, and you end up with even more variety. But did you know that those same Indian spices aren’t just tasty and tantalizing, but that they’re good for you too? Studies have shown that many common ingredients in Indian dishes can help keep you healthy and encourage your body to thrive. Here’s a complete guide to the health benefits of Indian spices. Read on to discover how Indian food can keep your body and soul happy together.
Outside of its use in recipes, cinnamon is a sweet substitute for sugar but without the calories. Cinnamon can be added to coffee or tea, sprinkled on fruit, added to yogurt to reduce tartness, and more. If you have diabetes, it’s a good way to flavor and sweeten things without increasing your sugar intake. According to some reports, cinnamon has antioxidants that fight disease and inflammation, can help with digestion, possesses probiotic properties, and may even be anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. No spice is a cure-all, of course, so keep that in mind and discuss any of the spices on this list with your doctor.
The peppery and bitter spice turmeric contains compounds referred to as curcuminoids that are beneficial in several ways, according to several medical sites. Reportedly, turmeric can help fight inflammatory conditions and may even aid in combatting arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia, which can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. Some studies suggest it can come in handy in dealing with inflammation and sore muscles incurred during exercise.
Cumin is indispensable in Indian cuisine, and not just for adding its distinct earthy and peppery flavor. Cumin seeds come with a healthy dose of iron and, to a lesser degree, calcium and magnesium. Many people swear by the aromatic spice, claiming it helps with digestion and has helped them to fight off colds, but more research is required.
Cardamom’s wholly unique taste—citrus, mint, pine, and a slew of others, based on the person describing it—makes it an indispensable ingredient in the preparation of dozens of recipes. It’s also part of the splendid mélange of ingredients in a good cup of chai. Physically and health-wise, some studies suggest that cardamom might be great for preventing the unpleasantness of colic, diarrhea, and constipation. Reportedly, some studies suggest it may help reduce blood pressure as well.
Coriander has an inimitably tart flavor that makes it perfect for curries and other main and side dishes. It’s worth noting that coriander is just one of two edibles that come from the same plant, the other being cilantro, sourced from the leaves. In regard to the spice’s health benefits, some reports state that coriander can be useful in lowering bad cholesterol while simultaneously increasing good cholesterol. One journal claims that coriander’s antioxidants might be able to help diabetes patients by reducing “oxidative stress”. As above, bringing relief is not the same thing as a cure, and you should still talk to your doctor—but it’s a pleasant option for sure.
Ginger comes in assorted forms, from fresh root to powdered to crystallized. Historically, it’s been a long-time home remedy or treatment for any number of basic conditions and ailments, but it best serves as an aid for problems with your gut. Another anti-inflammatory, ginger can relieve nausea and can help prevent you from throwing up. Purportedly, it helps move food more quickly through the stomach and into the small intestine. As another ingredient filled with those potent antioxidants, ginger may be able to combat the free radicals that lead to several diseases if used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle.
Cloves make an appearance in multiple drinks and dishes, from chai and spiced milk to various meat, rice, and vegetable recipes. The seasoning garam masala also features cloves along with several other spices on this list. As for their health benefits, they can provide 55 percent of your daily manganese for starters, as well as those all-important antioxidants. Other studies suggest that cloves have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and that they may have a beneficial effect regarding controlling blood sugar levels and aiding the health of your liver and bones. Again, clove intake should be accompanied by a healthy lifestyle. Whatever their benefits, they’re flavorfully delicious and great in desserts, chutneys, curries, teas, and more.
The piquant and spicy Indian peppers are useful in many recipes including chutneys, pickles, curries, and more. There are several types, but popular ones include green chiles, dried Kashmiri chiles, Bhut Jolokia, Guntur chili, and many others. The health benefits of green chiles alone include being cholesterol-free and containing iron, magnesium, fiber, and vitamin A, B-6, and C. They also help digestion and are anti-inflammatory as well. Plus, they’re fantastic ingredients that give most any dish an extra kick of flavor and spice.
As we mentioned, not one single spice can ensure perfect health. All the above spices should be used in moderation and in combination with good eating habits, with plenty of fruits and vegetables and a minimum of fast food. Include an exercise regimen and plenty of sunlight and fresh air in your daily routine, and seek more specific and fact-based advice from your doctor or a certified nutritionist. Also, be aware that some spices and other supplements should not be used to excess, and some can cause side effects when combined with certain medicines and medical procedures. Once more, consult with your doctor to be sure.
Whether you visit your local Indian grocery store or buy Desi grocery online, be sure to procure your spices through an Indian grocer for Indian recipes. The spices available at many western stores may lack the necessary flavor and content required for Indian cuisine. We hope that this complete guide to the health benefits of Indian spices will put you on the path to creating exquisite and authentic dishes for you, your friends, and your family.
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