Medicinal & Health Properties of Spices used in Traditional Indian Cooking

Spices can do much more than tickle your taste buds with their flavor. The medicinal properties of spices used in traditional Indian cooking have interested researchers for quite some time. Here are some reasons to love your spicy food:

1. Turmeric:

Turmeric has been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicines for thousands of years. It has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has been shown to benefit patients with ulcerative colitis (a chronic inflammatory bowel disease), osteoarthritis, indigestion, and inflammatory eye disease).

Turmeric also encourages the flow of bile from the gall bladder. It can help relieve indigestion and bloating.
Its anti-cancer properties have been shown in the lab and are being explored in humans.

2. Garlic:

Garlic is popular for preventing heart disease and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Though modern studies could not clearly prove its ability to lower blood cholesterol, it does show properties to prevent atherosclerosis (the hardening of arteries) and heart disease.

Garlic boosts your immune system. Researchers have been able to show its effectiveness in preventing the common cold and speed up recovery from a cold.

Garlic is rich in antioxidants. In lab experiments, garlic showed the ability to kill cancer cells. People who eat more garlic are less likely to get cancers of colon, stomach, and esophagus.

Some other diseases where garlic can help are intestinal worms, fungal skin infections, and prostate enlargement.

3. Ginger:

Ginger has anti-nausea action. It helps relieve motion sickness and also pregnancy associated nausea and vomiting.
Ginger also shows anti-inflammatory action. In one study in patients with osteoarthritis, it was found to relieve pain and reduce the need for pain killers.

4. Fenugreek (Methi):

Fenugreek has blood sugar lowering action. In some studies, consuming fenugreek, mixed with food during a meal, seemed to lower blood sugar levels after the meal in people with diabetes.

Preliminary research suggests fenugreek might lower triglycerides (a type of blood lipid that raises your risk of heart disease). Fenugreek can also relieve symptoms of heartburn.

5. Cinnamon:

Cinnamon has blood sugar lowering action. It has been studied in patients with diabetes where it showed promising results though the benefits could not be clearly established.

As you get ready to enjoy your next spicy meal, do note that the ability of spices to prevent or cure disease is not established the way it is for drugs. In fact, it may be impossible to replicate in scientific experiments the effects of herbs or spices taken in diet over several years. What we do know for sure is that many of them have shown properties that are good for your health, and therefore are a good addition to your food. But it is not advisable to consume them in supplement form (capsules, powders etc.) over long periods, or to rely solely on them to treat a condition without your doctor’s advice.