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Spice Up Your Life and Live Longer

Turmeric Cuts Your Risk of Diabetes

tumeric-636This exotic spice has a golden-yellow hue and slightly peppery, gingery taste. It’s wildly popular in Asian, Indian and African cuisines and if you’re not already a fan, here’s a great reason to try it: According to researchers at Thailand’s Srinakharinwirot University, adding as little as one teaspoon of turmeric to your daily diet could cut your risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as half! This spice is loaded with curcumin, a potent antioxidant that nourishes the insulin-producing pancreas, say researchers. “Just sneak it into your favorite fish, chicken, beef, vegetable and rice dishes to jazz them up,” suggests nutrition researcher Nancy K. Lonsdorf, M.D., author of The Ageless Woman.

Ginger Pummels Pain

ginger-636_1“In India, ginger is considered a universal medicine. It’s used to help heal pretty much everything, including headaches, muscle pain, joint pain and even bad back injuries,” says Dr. Lonsdorf. Ginger’s secret: It’s packed with gingerols, which are plant compounds that ramp up production of pain-numbing endorphins, dampen inflammation, improve blood flow and relax tense, spasming muscles. Eating one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger (or three slices of candied ginger) a day quells aches and pains for up to 63 percent of women within two weeks, according to University of Miami researchers.

Cardamom Can Lower Blood Pressure

cardamom-636This aromatic spice (it has a spicy, slightly citrusy flavor) is a popular addition to meat, rice and bread recipes in Arabian and Ethiopian cooking. Cardamom lovers also sneak this spice to hot coffee and tea to add a touch of sweetness and bring out their rich flavor. In a study published in the Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics, when folks with high blood pressure added cardamom to their daily diets it helped normalize their pressure readings in as little as 12 weeks. Turns out cardamom relaxes the muscles lining blood vessels so they’re less likely to tighten up and cause blood pressure surges. The study-proven dose is roughly 1/2 teaspoon daily. Cardamom cookies, anyone?

Sage Strengthens Memory

sage-636Feeling foggy? A single dose of sage can instantly sharpen your memory skills, helping you recall names, places and other facts more quickly and accurately for at least three hours straight, say researchers at Britain’s University of Northumbria at Newcastle. How? Plant compounds called phenols block the breakdown of acetylcholine — a brain compound that’s essential for clear-headed thinking and the formation of new memories, the study authors say. Try tossing 1/2 teaspoon of this dried herb into your next meal.

Rosemary Helps Clear Congestion

rosemary-636If you’re feeling under the weather, adding 1/4 teaspoon of rosemary to a meal can ease congestion and sinus pressure, plus help speed your recovery from a bad head cold, says James Balch, M.D., author ofPrescription for Natural Cures. “Rosemary’s antioxidants dampen sinus inflammation, improve drainage and can even strengthen your ability to destroy cold viruses.” Rosemary tastes great in omelets, herbed breads, roasted potatoes and poultry dishes. Or sip one cup of rosemary tea daily until your symptoms ease. Simmer two tablespoons of dried rosemary in one cup of water for five minutes, then strain.

Saffron Fights Depression

saffron_636Three clinical trials at the University of Tehran suggest that eating a daily pinch (less than 1/10 of a teaspoon) of this golden-yellow spice eases depression for 75 percent of women, making it more powerful than many prescription antidepressants. Credit saffron’s crocin, an antioxidant that prods the brain to produce more mood-boosting serotonin. Saffron has a slightly sweet, earthy flavor, and it’s wonderful in seafood, rice, beef and tomato-based dishes. That pinch will do just fine in this recipe forPasta with Zucchini and Saffron. Tip: Saffron is sold as tiny threads and in powder form. If you choose the threads, soak in one tablespoon of water for an hour before using and add to your recipe (water, too).

Garlic Strengthens Immunity

garlic-636_2Eating just one clove daily can cut your risk of infections (viral or bacterial) in half, say researchers at The Garlic Information Centre in Battle, East Sussex. This flavorful herb is packed with at least 33 different sulfur compounds — raw materials needed to build fast, powerful, germ-killing white blood cells, their studies show. Want a real booster? Try this Creamy Garlic Dip. Tip: Let chopped and crushed garlic “rest” for 10 minutes before cooking (air exposure allows garlic’s sulfur compounds to be converted into their most active form).

Cinnamon Revs Energy

cinnamon-636Eating sugary or carb-laden fare (sodas, bread, bagels, sweets) causes sharp spikes and dips in blood sugar, which can exhaust the central nervous system and leave you feeling drained and sluggish, says Dr. Balch. But USDA research suggests sprinkling 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon onto your meals each day can slow sugar and carb absorption in the small intestine, improving blood sugar control by 29 percent and cutting your risk of draggy bouts of fatigue by as much as half.

Peppermint Soothes Digestive Upsets

mint-636_0According to University of Maryland researchers, adding peppermint to a daily diet can help soothe indigestion, cramping, queasiness and other digestive ills for up to 60 percent of women. Peppermint’s menthol helps intestinal muscles contract properly and prods the gallbladder to release digestion-enhancing bile, the researchers say. Tip: Sip two cups of peppermint tea daily or use one tablespoon of the fresh herb to in your favorite food and drinks. Minced peppermint leaves taste great in fruit salads, rice pilaf, chicken and lamb marinades, chocolate recipes, punches, iced teas and even plain water.

Nutmeg Calms Stress

nutmeg-636In India, freshly-grated nutmeg has long been used to alleviate stress, anxiety and tension. And studies there show that this sweet spice’s blend of biologically active compounds mimic the antidepressant Prozac, calming nerves and chasing away funky moods in as little as 20 minutes. Just 1/8 teaspoon daily can do the trick, say Stanford University researchers. Try sprinkling it on cooked spinach, squash, cauliflower, pumpkin, sausage and veal dishes, or add it to quiches, sauces, custards, baked treats, mulled cider and hot cocoa.

Cayenne Speeds Weight Loss

cayenne-636This eye-watering spice is rich in capsaicin — the stuff that gives chili peppers their fiery kick. And Purdue University research suggests just sprinkling 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne onto your heaviest meal of the day could help you effortlessly shed up to two pounds in one month. How? In their studies, when subjects enjoyed a cayenne-laced meal, they ate 70 fewer calories without even realizing it. Follow-up studies suggest that cayenne ups your body’s production of at least six different fat-burning proteins, helping you shed eight percent more flab than if you’d noshed blander meals, instead.

Anise Relieves Gassiness

anise-636It’s perfectly normal to pass gas 14 to 20 times daily, say UCLA researchers. But if you’d rather not be that “normal,” try chewing 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of anise seeds (which taste a lot like licorice) after your two biggest meals of the day. According to a Mexican research team, this simple trick can help quash gassiness in as little as 48 hours. Anise seeds are 75 percent anethole, which spurs the release of digestive enzymes, improving food breakdown so that gas formation doesn’t occur. Plus it helps break up large, painful gas bubbles, says Balch.

Basil Can Prevent New Cancer Cells

basil-636According to researchers at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, regular use of basil — as little as 1/2 teaspoon four times weekly — helps shut down the growth of new cancer cells. The credit goes to basil’s antioxidant-rich oil, which stimulates the formation of immune system super cells that quickly destroy abnormal cells on contact. Basil pairs beautifully with dishes containing lots of tomatoes, onions, garlic or olives.

Cloves Ease Toothaches

cloves-636_0If you can’t get to the dentist, gently chewing on one or two cloves can ease your tooth pain and gum inflammation for two hours straight, say UCLA researchers.
A natural compound in clove oil, called eugenol, is a powerful anesthetic and bacteria killer. And cloves are packed with almost five times more of it than any other plant studied, say researchers at the University of Georgia in Athens. Tip: Store cloves in a cool, dark cupboard — eugenol is damaged by prolonged exposure to light and heat.

Paprika Dampens Inflammation

paprika-636If you only grab the paprika when you’re making deviled eggs, you’re missing out! Researchers at the Guelph Food Research Center in Ontario, Canada say enjoying 1/2 teaspoon of this spice daily could cut your levels of tissue inflammation as much as 20 percent. “Paprika is rich in saponins, natural compounds that bind to inflammatory molecules in the digestive tract, blocking their absorption,” explains Ray Sahelian, M.D., author of Mind Boosters. Why should you care about quelling inflammation? According to researchers at North Carolina’s Brody School of Medicine, chronic inflammation can worsen dozens of different health problems, including skin rashes, arthritis, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease. This spice is available sweet, spicy and smoked so you can try it on anything from beef, chicken and fish, to beans, rice, and roasted veggies. Courtesy :

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