Cinnamon is a staple in my house. I sprinkle it on everything – my morning oatmeal, pancakes, smoothies, yogurt and coffee, and it’s my right-hand man when I’m baking. I use it year-round, but I definitely do some extra sprinkling around the holidays. It just seems to add a festive flavor and scent to everything. Even better, it’s practically a zero-calorie way to spike flavor (hello, it’s sweet!) and it has a long list of health benefits. And cinnamon is only the tip of the spice-burg. Here, Naturopathic Physician Dr. Suneil Jain gives us plenty of reasons to spice up our lives, from boosting metabolism to promoting sleep. Here he racks up his 6 faves and tells us how to sneak them into our diet….
If you’re looking to eat healthier this holiday season, you may not need to look further than your spice rack. Not only can some of your favorite seasonal spices add a little holiday cheer to your favorite dishes, they can also increase the nutritional benefit of each bite that you take.
Cinnamon: Studies have linked consumption of this spice to lower blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. It may also decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Try it: Add it to mashed sweet potatoes, squash or applesauce, or bake with it in cakes, breads and pies.
Vanilla: Contains B vitamins to help in enzyme synthesis, nervous system function and regulating body metabolism. This spice also contains small traces of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron and zinc. Try it: Add it to your morning coffee or yogurt or sprinkle into a smoothie or over fruit.
Nutmeg: Reports show this spice can regulate your GI tract and promote sleep. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Try it: Enhance the flavor of potatoes, chicken, fish and vegetables, add it to Greek Yogurt for a delicious breakfast or snack, or season spinach and squash.
Cloves: Just a half-teaspoon of cloves has higher antioxidant content than an entire half-cup of blueberries or cranberries. Cloves contain an active component called eugenol which some research suggests operates as an anti-inflammatory. Try it: Add some to your next batch of chili or fajitas for a unique flavor. Or season veggies such as carrots, onions and potatoes as well as chocolates and fruits.
Peppermint: Peppermint can quell an upset stomach, alleviate headaches and sooth symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome — it may also have cancer prevention properties. Try it: Add it to your hot cocoa, tea or coffee for a great flavor boost, or add a hint into your holiday baking.
Pumpkin spice: Pumpkins are loaded with the antioxidant beta-carotene. This can reduce the risk of some cancers and protect against heart disease. They’re also high in fiber, potassium, and magnesium to help keep your body running in tip-top shape. Try it: Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte didn’t get famous without this unique spice. You can easily add this to your coffee or tea for a seasonal flavor. Pumpkin Spice is also great over granola, select fruits and of course, sweets.
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