7 Magical Spices

Fat-burning spice: chilli

  • Virtues: Chillies sting and burn the mouth. Chillies contain enzymes like capsaicin. Capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. It also found to reduce LDL cholesterol ( Fats) levels in obese individuals. They are also a good source of anti-oxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, and flvonoids like beta-carotene, alpha carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthins.

  • Origins: Chillies origins are from the American continents.
  • Preparation: Use in small to moderate quantities in food either in whole, crushed or powdered form.

Anti-ageing spice: turmeric

  • Virtues: Generally, all spices contain high quantities of anti-oxidants, but turmeric's anti-oxidant power is very higher. Turmeric helps smooth functioning of the cardio-vascular system and neutralizes free radicals, which are responsible for premature cell ageing (the skin in particular). A teaspoon of turmeric par day will cover the majority of your daily antioxidant needs. In addition, scientists are now seriously looking into its anti-cancer effects.

  • Origin: The tropical zone, regrouping India, China, Japan and Africa.
  • Preparation: Turmeric is used in most Indian cuisine, giving the food its lovely golden hue. It is also used in numerous spice mixes, such as curry and Colombo powder.

Anti-cold spice: cinnamon

  • Virtues: Cinnamon has many health qualities. Some of its well known virtues are its anti-viral and antiseptic properties. For people suffering from severe cold and chest congession, cinnamon helps clear the airways. It is also known to stimulate blood circulation and help to fight thermal shock.

  • Origin: Sri Lanka and China.
  • Preparation: Extremely aromatic, cinnamon should be used carefully. A pinch is usually enough to perfume both sweet and savoury dishes. Cinnamon can also be used in its stick form infused into saucy dishes.

Healthy tummy spice: cumin

  • Virtues: Cumin is extremely good for digestion and related problems. The very smell (aroma) of it, which comes from an aromatic organic compound called Cuminaldehyde, the main component of its essential oil, activates our salivary glands in our mouth (the mouth watering flavor), facilitating the primary digestion of the food. Next is Thymol, a compound present in cumin, which does same to the glands which secrete acids, bile and enzymes responsible for complete digestion of the food in the stomach and the intestines, due to its Stimulating properties. Cumin is also Carminative i.e. relieves from you from gas troubles and thereby improves digestion and appetite. Due to its essential oils, magnesium and sodium content, it promotes digestion and also gives relief in stomach-ache when taken with hot water

  • Origin: Egypt.
  • Preparation: Grains can be dropped into a spoon of very hot oil to release all their flavour, before adding onions, garlic etc. The grains are also roasted and ground to be used in vegetable, rice and meat dishes.

Anti-inflammatory spice: cloves

  • Virtues: Cloves have long been considered a home remedy in India for toothaches, joint pains, indigestion, asthma, cough, skin disorders, headache, etc. These health benefits of clove can be attributed to its antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant, germicidal, rubefacient, stomachic and stimulant properties. Cloves contain eugenol, an aroma with bactericide, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic virtues. For toothache, the clove acts as a local anaesthetic - you can crush it and put it on the painful gum… A sure-fire remedy!

  • Origin: Tropical zones such as Asia, Africa and the Antilles.
  • Preparation: Generally used whole, and if ground, only the head is used.

Antiseptic spice: mustard

  • Virtues: Mustard was often used in poultices for its antiseptic qualities, and it is good for treating infections… However, Please check for allergies against mustard before treating infections with it. Mustard seeds are an excellent source of selenium and magnesium, which help reduce severity of infections and reduce pain.

  • Origin: More than 3,000 years ago, mustard was cultivated by the Chinese.
  • Preparation: Mustard seeds are used in their whole or crushed form in preparation of several Indian Cuisines.

Anti-bloating spice: Star Anise

  • Virtues: Star Anise is used for the cure of Rheumatism. Star Anise is carminative, stimulant and diuretic. Star Anise aids in digestion. Star Anise is the industrial source for preparation of Tamiflu, an anti-Influenza drug. Star Anise is used to treat Colic in babies.

  • Origin: Far East - China and Tonkin.
  • Preparation: Star Anise can be infused as an herbal tea or ground and used as a powder. It can also be kept whole in its star form, which makes for nice decoration in your plate.