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The power of nature

We all want to eat food that is tasty, nutritious and, most of the time, healthy. Well how about looking at your food not only in terms of being good for you, but also being able to heal you? The following ingredients are all helpful in delivering flavour and enhancing the taste of your dish, but they also boast healing properties that will raise your meal from ordinary to extraordinary.

Cinnamon

This spice, often associated with Christmas aromas in the west and daily food in eastern places such as Morocco, has antibacterial properties. Cinnamon is a warming spice which can help to improve your circulation, relieve cramping (especially for women while menstruating), and alleviates congestion. There are different types of cinnamon but the one to get is ‘Cinnamomum verum’ also known as ‘true cinnamon’ or Sri Lankan ‘Ceylon cinnamon’.

Cardamom

 

This spice, used in so many eastern dishes, is jam-packed with healing properties. It is good for digestive health, relieving acidity, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and trapped gas. It also helps with circulation, bad breath (due to its antibacterial properties), and depression. Some Indian traditions also claim that a warm cup of milk, honey and cardamom can do wonders for your sex life by alleviating sexual dysfunction.

 

Lemongrass

 

This aromatic citrusy healer is nature’s acetaminophen: it reduces pain and inflammation, helps to bring down high fevers, and relieves headaches. It’s known as “fever-grass” in Jamaica. Lemongrass also helps to restore our vital systems, including digestion, respiration, excretion, and the nervous system.

Ginger

The best-known member of the family: primarily for its flavour but also for protecting and promoting a healthy digestive system. It’s one of the most ancient medicinal plants used in Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Indonesian medicine. In Asia, ginger is known to warm the body, ease nausea, improve appetite and digestion, relieve aches and pains, and restore strength to those suffering from illness. Steeped hot ginger teas help relieve symptoms of cold and flu. When combined with turmeric and black pepper its healing properties multiply.

Turmeric

 

The king of spices contains bioactive compounds with powerful healing properties. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. This bright pungent yellow spice does not hold enough curcumin to give you the amount you need per day and our bodies find it hard to absorb it, so some people take a supplement containing curcumin instead. However, when combined with freshly ground black pepper, the absorption is enhanced. Turmeric can help to reduce the risk of or help alleviate symptoms of brain diseases, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis. It can also help to fight depression and help delay age-related diseases.

Black Pepper

Is full of healing properties! An often underrated spice but one we all have to hand in our kitchens. Not only is it a rich source of minerals and nutrients, it is also actually a digestive assistant in that it helps us to metabolise food as it is passed through our system. It also helps to clear congestion, relieve indigestion, detoxify, and relieve a fever. In Ayurveda black pepper is used as an appetite stimulant, a breathing aid, and a cough therapy, when combined with oil. It is also sometimes used to treat colic, anaemia, heart trouble, and diabetes. It can help to alleviate a headache, and thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties is known as a natural pain killer. It can also reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers due to its strong antioxidant properties. Piperine, the compound responsible for pepper’s taste, also aids the absorption of other nutrients, such as turmeric. 

Star anise

Used in traditional Chinese medicine to fight flu by clearing mucus from the respiratory tract, this spice is effective in fighting viral, bacterial, or fungal infections, as well as inflammation. It’s also a common ingredient in medicinal teas, to treat coughs and chest infections. The seeds can be chewed before meals to stimulate the appetite or afterward to relieve gas and bloating.

Clove

 

Were you ever given a clove to put in your mouth when suffering from toothache? These aromatic flower buds found in the spice racks of most homes, are known to have antiseptic, anaesthetic, anti-inflammatory, warming, soothing, and flatulence-relieving properties. They are high in antioxidants, nutrients, fibre, and manganese. They are great for supporting liver health and helping stabilise blood sugar levels as well as potentially preventing cancers, and significantly improve liver health and bone health.

Garlic

Not just great for warding off vampires! The healing properties of Garlic are manifold. It helps to purify the blood, provide relief from colds and flu (two cooked cloves per day, or in a tea with honey), sinusitis, helps to prevent heart disease, lower cholesterol, help with fungal infections and maintain skin elasticity. Garlic is also well known as an antibiotic to treat bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections.

Onion

The humble onion is packed with nutrients. Being nutrient-dense means they are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. They are also useful little fellows in that they may benefit heart health, help fight cancer, control blood sugar levels, boost bone density, and digestive health. They are full of antioxidants and have antibacterial properties. A natural antihistamine, onions are also rich in vitamin C, sulphuric compounds, flavonoids, and other phyto-chemicals that can soothe the throat and clear stuffed-up nasal passages.