Spices have an important role to play in different places. They not only add flavcor to our food, they are essentially good for our kealth. India is blessed with a varied climate and each of its state produces some spice or the other, and spices are used extensively in cooking in almost all Indian recipes.Spices are used in Arabia, the meditteranian countries and many of the far eastern countries too.
Apart from adding colour, flavour and taste spices provide infinite health benefits. In traditional medical systems, the ability of spices to heal various physical, mental and emotional problems has widely been reported.
A growing body of research has demonstrated that the commonly used herbs and spices such as garlic, black cumin, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, thyme, allspices, bay leaves, mustard, and rosemary, possess antimicrobial properties that, in some cases, can be used therapeutically.
Other spices, such as saffron, turmeric, tea, ginger, and flaxseed do contain potent plant substances, including carotenoids, curcumins, catechins, lignan respectively, which provide significant protection against several chronic health conditions including cardiovascular conditions and tumor prevention.
Some of the more commonly used spices and their health benefits:-
1, Asafoetida or Hing as It is known is used for seasoning food and has medicinal value.It is used in ayurvedic medicines for curing whooping cough and stomach ache caused by excessive eating
2, Cardamom or Elaichi is widely used for flavoring Indian desserts and meat dishes . It is also used widely in pharmaceutical sector. Cardomom Helps to control bad breath and digestive disorder.
3, Red Chilli is the main ingredient used for adding hot flavour to the food.The antioxidants present in chilli help to cope with cholesterol. It also helps in burning calories...
4, Cinnamon or Dalchini is used extensively in flavoring meat dishes and as an ingredient in preparing the popular Gharam masala.It supports natural production of insulin and reduces blood cholesterol.The latest claim highlights that merely smelling cinnamon acts as a memory booster. Cinnamon is believed to improve memory and the performance levels for certain tasks..
5, Clove or Laung is used as a cooking ingredient mainly for seasoning meat dishes and certain sweets.Clove oil is used to cure tooth ache and sore gums. It is also a beneficial ayurvedic remedy for chest pains, fever, digestive problems, cough and cold.Cloves are used for treating a number of health conditions such as malaria, cholera, scabies in the tropical Asian countries.
6, Coriander or Dhaniya Coriander leaves as well as coriander seeds are extensively used in Indian cooking. It can be ground and used externally on aching joints and rheumatic pains. It is also used for curing sore throat, allergies, digestive problems, hay fever etc.
7, Cumin or Jeera is one of the most popular ingredient used for cooking and it also possesses medicinal properties. It helps in the cure of digestion related problems .It is a good source or iron and builds up our immunity.Jeera boiled in water is used as a mouth wash ..Vitamin E which is a vital component for skin care is present in sufficient quantities in cumin..
8, Curry leaves or Curry Patta is used for seasoning curries which adds flavor to a vegetariian dish.It has many medicinal uses.The leaves are beneficial in reducing blood sugar. A rich souce of iron, the dried leaves are extensively used in herbal medicines.
9, Fenugreek or Methi is mainly used as a green leafy vegetable and the seeds are used for seasoning and preparing Masalas. Fenugreek seed tea or fenugreek seeds ground and cooked with milk is given to nursing mothers .It is supposed to be very benefitial in increasing breast milk. It also helpful in treating diabetes and lowering cholesterol.
10, Garlic or Lassa is used in cooking, in making pickles and other dishes.It is useful for coping with cough and cold. It also has antibiotic properties.
11, Ginger or Adrak is used extensively in cooking, it adds a specific flavour to the food . Heartburn and gas can be treated with ginger.It also decreases pus in infected wounds and boils.It helps to avoid digestive problems. It is beneficial in coping with cough and cold.
12, Mustard or Rye seeds are used for seasoning and the green leaves as a vegetable. Mustard oil is extensively used in India .Mustard oil is good for body and hair massage. It consists of omega-3 fatty acids and is an excellent source of iron, zinc, manganese, calcium, protein .
13, Nutmeg is used in powdered form for garnishing and for preparing masala . It is also used in soaps, perfumes and shampoos. It is used for the treatment of asthma, heart disorder and bad breath.
14, Pepper - It is extensively used in cooking, especially for garnishing. It is has many medicinal uses too.It helps coping with cold, cough, infections etc. It helps to deal with muscle pains and digestive problems.
15, Saffron or Kesar is an expensive spice that is used for cooking as well as in beauty products. It is mainly used in sweet dishes . It is used as an ingrdient for skin ointments and creams.
16, Turmeric or Haldi is widely used in cooking and skin care products. It has a wide range medicinal uses.It helps deal with most skin problems. Turmeric powder can be used for healing cuts and wounds, since it has antiseptic qualities . The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric also help in the improvement of rheumatoid arthritis. Regular use of turmeric improves conditions like joint swelling and joint diseases.
Turmeric is also very effective in the treatment of skin problems such as psoriasis.
Spices are used and imported from India since ages. Many of these spices like cardamom, clove, nutmeg, ginger etc., are inseparable ingredients of the Indian 'Masala Chai'. This shows that spices form the basis of not only food in India but also for making a good cup of tea.
Though these spices provide innumerable benefits they should be used sparingly. The excessive use of spices in food can cause harm to the health. We have to try to make specific use of these spices. This will help in making optimal use of the resources provided by nature. Strike the right balance and add some spice to your life.