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Spice up your foods, but also your health
March is National Nutrition Month so it’s an excellent opportunity to spice things up a little bit!
Herbs and spices provide added flavor to your food…and do so without adding salt, fat, or artificial chemicals. Their strong flavors come from essential oils that are the plant’s first line of defense against predators. The main difference between an herb and a spice is the part of the plant from which it comes. Herbs usually come from the leafy part of a plant and include basil oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley and mint. Spices can be obtained from seeds, fruits, roots, bark, or some other vegetative substance and include cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, pepper and cloves.
Even more impressive than their flavor-enhancing capabilities is the fact that some of the more commonly available herbs and spices offer significant health benefits and even promote healing. And experts agree that the best way to get the nutrients you need is through food rather than through supplements.
And the winners are…
Some of the top contenders for super-hero herbs and spices include ginger which has a long history of being used for stomach ailments. It is also used for reducing muscle pain, is a strong anti-inflammatory, can lower bad cholesterol levels, and may improve brain function.
Oregano is sometimes known as a mini-salad because of the numerous nutritional benefits in one teaspoon. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, C and K, dietary fiber, manganese, iron and calcium. Oil of oregano has strong antibacterial properties. And only 1 tsp. of oregano has an antioxidant capacity 42 times more active than apples, 30 times more potent than potatoes and 12 times more active than oranges.
Basil is a great source of manganese, iron, calcium and a variety of vitamins. Additionally, it is a strong anti-bacterial agent and can help prevent the contamination of foods and can decontaminate previously contaminated foods.
Thyme, which has benefits similar to oregano and basil, is also a strong healing agent for respiratory issues. Since the 16th Century, thyme oil has been used for its antiseptic properties as mouthwash and for topical application. Like basil it is a strong antibacterial agent.
Red pepper fights inflammation and boosts one’s metabolism.
Turmeric which in addition to being anti-inflammatory, may inhibit the growth of different cancers and slow the progression of dementia.
Parsley is a great palate cleanser and can freshen bad breath.
Garlic is an antibacterial or antiviral agent and can be used to promote heart health.
Cinnamon, which is a source of fiber and calcium, has the highest antioxidant value of any spice. It reduces inflammation, lowers blood sugar and blood triglyceride levels, and can help alleviate stomach distress.
Enjoy herbs and spices on salads, with fish and poultry, in rice, pasta and vegetables, and in teas, infused water and smoothies. Let your imagination and your taste buds soar!
And the dining services team at Friendship Village does our part to make sure to incorporate these healthy herbs and spices as well as other nutrient-rich items into all of our culinary offerings.
So…go ahead…and spice things up!!!