Most of us reach for the spice rack when we’re looking to add flavour to our cooking. While spices indeed light up our taste buds, they can also play an important role in our health, aiding digestion, helping to relieve pain and easing cold symptoms. We asked Ankit, owner and manager of Fusion Spices to guide us through some of his favourite spices and their special qualities.
This trending spice has long been part of the Indian diet. The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help reduce the risk of chronic conditions and diseases such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s and heart disease, and can also be beneficial to digestive health. For your body to absorb enough curcumin to be useful, experts suggest having turmeric in both lunch and dinner most days of the week. Add one or two teaspoons to your smoothies, teas, curries or soups. Golden lattes every now and again may seem appealing, but there’s likely not enough turmeric inside to do much good.
Commonly found in Indian cuisine, fenugreek seeds are also used in North African and Middle Eastern dishes. Very aromatic and flavourful, the seeds taste somewhat like maple syrup, after being lightly roasted to reduced bitterness. They are often used in curries and chutney blends. Ground fenugreek seeds have been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, which can be helpful for controlling diabetes. However, diabetics and those on medication should always consult a doctor to confirm what amounts are safe to consume.
Cloves are not only a pungent, aromatic addition to both sweet and savoury dishes – clove oil is also a natural analgesic and can reduce inflammation. If you have a toothache for example, you can either apply clove oil or a whole clove directly on the affected area to help reduce the pain. You’ll of course need to visit a dentist later to address the root problem, but cloves are a natural way to numb the pain that might help in the middle of the night when you can’t get access to a dentist.
Another baking favourite, cinnamon can help stabilise blood sugar and control your sugar cravings. According to a recent study, cinnamon can also boost your metabolism. Consuming a sprinkling of cinnamon each day – in tea, on your cereal, in soups or with roast vegetables – can help you get the most out of this wonderfully warming spice.
Used widely across Indian Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, liquorice root is a great treatment for a sore throat and can also aid digestion. Ankit suggests chewing directly on the root but if you’d rather have it in liquid form, just steep the roots in hot water and serve as a tea.
You can find all the above spices and more at Fusion Spices.