Spices Can Be Good For You

Vioxx is off the market and gas is over $2 a gallon, but the last real health deal is still out there, and dirt cheap, too-in the spice aisle of the grocery store. The spices of the East-cayenne, turmeric, cardamom, ginger and cinnamon-were once traded for gold. Now an ounce or so can be yours for under a buck. They’re delectable and great for the bod, too.
Cayenne is the big bang of spices, and the bang is capsaicin, a heart-healthy antioxidant blasting cholesterol and triglycerides. Cayenne is loaded with vitamins A, C and E and stimulates your heart and circulation the way it stimulates your palate and sinuses. It fires up foods from corn bread to chili, so spice-sensitive souls should use tiny increments.
Less hot but still healthful is turmeric, the golden spice in every curry powder known to man. It’s valued not just for its gentle heat but for its anti-inflammatory powers and may be a player in combating Alzheimer’s. Research from UCLA indicates it breaks up plaque deposits in the brain. Turmeric is integral to Indian food and makes mustard yellow.
Ginger earns its age-old reputation as a stomach-settler and a purifier. It has cholesterol-lowering, artery-degunking antioxidants and anti-fungal, blood-clotting and even cancer-fighting properties. You can’t make Asian or Indian food without it. Or gingerbread.
Rich, mellow cardamom is the star of chai, Arabic coffee, and Dutch and African recipes, too. It’s pricey-right up there with saffron and vanilla, but it’s an aphrodisiac, according to Tales from the Arabian Nights. Less mythical, more scientific findings shows it aids digestion and has a mighty congestion-busting phytochemical.
Anti-microbial, circulation-improving and anti-inflammatory, cinnamon aids your respiratory and digestive systems. It not only adds a grace note to fruits and desserts, the journal Diabetes Care maintains that just a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon a day can lower blood sugar levels for those with Type 2 diabetes. That’s sweet news.
These spices complement each other in recipes and in your body, too.
Cayenne’s circulatory power allows for better turmeric absorption. A hot infusion of ginger, cinnamon and cardamom eases both respiratory and gastric woes.
While the FDA doesn’t regulate spices, it categorizes all the above as GRAS (generally recognized as safe), so ban the bland and take your medicine-it’s delicious.