Some cooking spices can benefit more than your taste buds: researchers have found that certain seasonings help fight common aches and pains-and prevent disease: Here’s how to spice up your health.
- Ginger Zaps – Twice-a-day doses of ginger extract relieved osteoarthritis pain in two thirds of patients in a University of Miami study. Like many pain pills, ginger blocks the enzyme that triggers joint inflammation, explains Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., author of Pain Free 1-2-3 (McGraw Hill, 2006). His advice: chew a slice of candied ginger or brew tea by chopping a half-inch piece of the root per cup. The spice may even stymie ovarian cancer. In a University of Michigan study, tumor cells mixed with ginger in lab dishes died.
- Cinnamon Lifts – A wiff of cinnamon can enchance motivation and alertness, researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia have found. Its aroma boosts blood flow, which may stimulate the brain. And once you eat it, cinnamon improves sugar metabolisum and helps keep blood fats in check, according to research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One half teaspoon daily can reduce your risk of developing diabetes, says Richard Anderson, Ph.D. of the USDA.
- Tumeric Soothes – The spice that turns curry and table mustard yellow can fight heartburn and indigestion. Tumeric’s active ingredients, curcumin, eased dyspepsia in 87 percent of patients in a Thai study. It can also ease headaches, sore muscles, and joints. And tumeric may fight Alzheimer’s disease: mice that ate the pungent spice had only half as many amyloid plaques (brain tangles) as those that didn’t, in a study at the University of California, Los Angeles.
- Red Pepper Clears drugstore decongestants cut blood flow to dry up clogged noses–but capsaicin, the compound that lends peppers their fire, can end congestion even faster. It makes your nose run, so you can breathe easier. Next time you’re stuffy, munch on crackers topped with red pepper sauce and grab the tissues. Capsaicin may also batde prostate cancer, notes a report in Cancer Research. Mice injected with cancer cells and fed pepper extract got much smaller tumors than other injected mice.