Surprising Health Benefits of Spices

Want a simple way to improve your health? Just add spice! Many of your favorite flavor-boosters such as cinnamon, cayenne pepper and oregano can actually benefit your body.

Chances are, you sprinkle cinnamon on your morning oatmeal or add a little cayenne pepper to your stir fry without giving it much thought. But many of your favorite flavor boosters can actually do your body good.

While spices are only effective when eaten in certain amounts daily, each one has its own specific health benefits.

Cinnamon. Without sugar added, the health benefits of cinnamon are unbeatable. Researchers have found that cinnamon can help lower blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels for people with Type 2 diabetes. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adding a little more than a teaspoon of cinnamon to rice pudding even helped control blood sugar in people who do not have diabetes.

Cinnamon also contains antioxidants called polyphenols, that have been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. The benefits don’t stop there. Cinnamon’s energizing scent has been found to increase alertness.

Aim for 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon per day, or 1-2 cinnamon sticks. Try mixing it into hot oatmeal, cold cereal or plain low-fat yogurt. You can also sprinkle it over fruits and vegetables for an added kick.

Cayenne Pepper. This is popular in the cooking world for the spicy bite it adds to foods, but cayenne pepper does more than that. Research shows cayenne can reduce risk for heart disease, eliminate stomach and intestinal gases, soothe a sore throat and reduce cold and flu symptoms.

Since cayenne is rich in Capsaicin, it can increase metabolic rate and help you lose weight. In a study from the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, the metabolism of people who took Capsaicin was 42% higher than those who didn’t.

Oregano. This super-spice has the power to loosen mucous, help treat respiratory illnesses and calm indigestion. Nutrients that oregano offers include iron, manganese and dietary fiber. Oregano works best with tomato-based foods, so add a dash to marinara sauces, soups and pizza.

In addition to these health benefits, spices can add much more flavor, color and variety to all your favorite foods and are good replacements for both salt and sugar.

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