Spices With Health Benefits

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Aside from jazzing up your food with some serious flavour, spices offer some serious health benefits. For a start, eating hot chillies may well make you live longer. Spice your food liberally, armed with the knowledge of what spices can do for you – pick the right spice and your dinner could help reduce inflammation, numb pain, boost your metabolism or help prevent cancer.

Spices are particularly useful if you’re following Coach's weight loss diet plan for men or weight loss meal plan for women, because adding a liberal sprinkling of spices to your food can help you feel more satisfied and less hungry after eating, despite the fact that most spices are very low in calories.

The pain-numbing spices

Spices such as cumin and turmeric are high in salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin that kills pain and thins the blood. And the spicier your curry, the more pain relief it offers – a Scottish study found that a vindaloo contained 95mg of salicylic acid, 30mg more than a standard aspirin. This delicious spiced salmon fillet recipe uses almost every spice in the cupboard – why not give it a go?

The bone-strengthening spice

Ok so onions aren’t exactly spices, but if you’re cooking up a curry you’re likely to be chucking some in it. Onions contain a peptide called GPCS that has been found to increase bone density and cut the risk of osteoporosis. This discovery, made by Swiss researchers, seems a fair trade-off for stinky breath. Try this yellow Thai curry that’s bursting with veg.

The cancer-fighting spice

Turmeric is high in the antioxidant curcumin, which neutralises cancer-causing free radicals and inhibits enzymes that promote tumours. US scientists recommend that you combine it with cruciferous veg, such as cauliflower, broccoli or cabbage, to improve its healing powers. Give this healthy chicken korma recipe a go – it features a liberal dose of turmeric.

The anti-inflammatory spice

If you’ve suffered a painful injury, forget the Deep Heat and go for a different kind of fire. Ginger contains compounds called gingerols, which scientists at the University of Sydney have found to act on the vanilloid receptor, which sits on pain sensory nerve endings, and reduce inflammatory enzymes. This ginger-y chicken noodle soup will help you recover after a workout.

The metabolism-boosting spice

Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a naturally occurring thermogenic chemical. It emits heat during digestion and it’s been proven to boost metabolism for around two hours after consuming it. It also aids digestion and can increase feelings of satiation. Try this Mexican style spicy chicken fajita recipe.

More Spicy Recipes To Try

Lucy Miller
Former editor

Lucy Miller is an experienced journalist who has worked across a range of health and fitness titles. She was the fitness and nutrition editor at Men’s Fitness UK, and has also been fitness editor of both Health & Fitness UK and Women’s Fitness UK. Lucy qualified as a NASM-certified personal trainer and nutritionist in 2008.

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