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Spice Up Your Life!

The following post is by Lauren Gordon, PETA’s celebrity marketing coordinator. Lauren is also a certified holistic health counselor.

“Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I’m taking with me when I go.”

Erma Bombeck

Spices are a great tool for adding flavor to foods and awakening one’s taste buds. In addition to creating a unique flavor profile for various dishes, spices contain multiple health benefits. Check out these spices’ therapeutic properties and incorporate them into your diet today to spice up your life!

One of my favorite spices is cinnamon, which tastes great, is extremely versatile, and provides a variety of health benefits. It has been shown to lower blood sugar, reduce insulin sensitivity, and decrease cholesterol levels. Cinnamon can be enjoyed a number of ways. Stir it into oatmeal or cereal, add some to a cup of coffee or tea, use it to season roasted vegetables such as sweet potatoes or carrots, and sprinkle it on fruits such as apples or bananas.

Turmeric is a yellow spice that’s typically found in Indian dishes. Part of the ginger family, turmeric is a powerful antioxidant that is lauded for its anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric contains curcumin, which can block the growth of cancer cells and even kill them. Research has also shown that turmeric can help prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease. Reap the benefits of turmeric by making Indian yellow lentils (mung dhal) or try this recipe for Indian lemon rice. For an easy turmeric fix when you’re cooking rice, add 1/4 teaspoonful to the water for every cup of rice. Top these dishes off with some black pepper, which is believed to help the body absorb turmeric.

Add some heat to your dishes with cayenne pepper. The fiery flavor comes from capsaicin, which works as a natural pain reliever by interfering with nerve signals. Cayenne pepper can boost metabolism, improve circulation, and aid digestion. Spice up sautéed veggies and give your greens a boost by adding dried cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Shake dried cayenne onto popcorn or add it to beans.

In addition to seasoning curries and stews, cumin is an immune-boosting spice that can also improve liver function. Boil 1 teaspoonful of cumin seeds in 1 cup of water to make a tea that helps treat cold symptoms, indigestion, and nausea. Cumin seeds are rich in iron, which helps with the transport of oxygen in the body’s blood. My favorite lentil soup recipe calls for cumin, as does this black-bean hummus, which also contains cayenne—talk about multitasking!

How do you incorporate spices into your diet?

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