By Jana du Plessis
Don’t overlook your spice rack when it comes to cooking healthy dishes. Not only do spices add wonderful flavour (without any kilojoules!), but each one has its own special properties to benefit your health.
This fiery, red addition to the pantry promises to help with weight loss and an increased metabolism. The warmth of cayenne is said to stimulate digestion and help protect the stomach lining against stomach ulcers, as well as clearing mucus from the respiratory tract. Another reason to add a sprinkle to your popcorn snack? The kick of vitamin A it contains – essential for healthy eyesight.
The sweet, cosy feelings we attach to cinnamon (thanks to cinnamon buns and pancakes are reason enough to flavour more of your dishes with it. But here are some added benefits: Cinnamon lowers blood-sugar levels and research has also found that a good dose of it can minimise the effect of fatty meals on your health.
The quintessential spice in the Middle Eastern falafel, with a wonderfully pungent, flavourful taste. Add cumin seeds to your food to support blood-sugar regulation, improve your immune system and up your intake of essential minerals such as magnesium and iron.
If you like punchy and daring flavours, ginger is for you! Sweet or savoury, it’s worth adding a pinch of fresh or dried ginger to anything from punch to pickles, to gain from it’s antioxidant effects. When feeling nauseous, a cup of ginger tea will help relieve the symptoms and, for a happy gut, the compound gingerol will help ease digestion.
It’s known for the bright yellow hue it imparts to everything from spicy curries to Vietnamese pancakes, but the wonders of turmeric go way beyond aesthetics. The chemical curcumin that’s found in this spice is praised for its anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to aid in the relief of swelling, bloating and pain.