The word ‘Spices’, needs no introduction, attributing to its familiarity among all the human communities, especially among food freaks. Spices are part of daily human use. As per the layman knowledge, spices are the ingredients used in the preparation of the food to enhance its taste. In fact, these aromatic parts of the trees that add aroma, flavor and color to the food have many health benefits. There are different species of spices available. Some of the commonly used spices are Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pepper, ginger, garlic, turmeric, fennel, fenugreek, cardamom, mustard, poppy, vanilla, cassia, saffron, etc.
Spices are available from different parts of the plants. Most of the spices are either dried fruits or berries or seeds of a plant. Some of the spices are also from roots, rhizomes, barks, arils, flower buds, stigmas, resins, etc. Unlike other food ingredients, spices are often added in minute quantities while preparing delicacies. The essential oils present in the cells of these plant parts are responsible for adding flavor, aroma and color to the food. Every spice has its own essential oil, which has different chemical compounds in different proportions. Spices can perform their function by releasing essential oils, for which the spices have to be crushed and then used. As these oils are volatile, they tend to spread in the dish as soon as they are crushed and added.
Health benefits Besides improving the taste of the food, the spices are also found to have many medicinal benefits. Their ability to kill harmful bacteria made them popular for curing and treating many health problems. Some of the commonly available spices used for their medicinal properties are: garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin, cloves, cardamom, etc. These are used in every household, almost on a regular basis. They are found to provide many health benefits. Let us discuss in brief about the various health benefits, provided by some of these spices.
Garlic Garlic is one of the many spices having maximum health benefits. It is a favorite among the individuals struggling to control weight. It is found to have a wide range of medicinal properties, such as, anti-fungal, antiviral and anti-bacterial. It is used as a part of treatment for cancer (especially colon cancer), heart diseases (as it prevents clotting of blood). The phyto chemical substance present in garlic, called Allicin, helps in reducing cholesterol, insulin and triglycerides. Apart from these, it is also a rich source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Magnesium and Selenium.
Ginger Ginger is widely known for providing remedies for digestive problems, such as, nausea, flatulence, and other gastro intestinal problems. Ginger is found to be rich source of fibre, iron, vitamin E and Magnesium. It is also found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are very much essential in boosting our immune system. Apart from this, they are the natural relievers for cold and flu.
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