Food and the holidays just seem to go hand-in-hand, giving us the opportunity to indulge in a variety of dishes that we may not get to enjoy at other times of the year.
In many cases, these dishes contain a wide variety of spices that add flavor and aroma.
But there's more to it than that: many of these spices have health benefits you may not have thought about.
These are top six healthiest spices in your Christmas desserts – and what makes them so good for you.
While many species of cinnamon exist, Cassia cinnamon is the one most commonly used. In terms of health benefits, however, Ceylon cinnamon offers the most. And those benefits are many:
- Cinnamon stimulates digestion and is used to treat a variety of stomach-related issues such as nausea, colic, and indigestion.
- Cinnamon also kills many viruses and fungi that cause disease.
Nutmeg includes magnesium, potassium, and zinc. It’s used as a brain booster due to two compounds found within it — myristicin and macelignan — that have been shown to improve focus and balance neural pathways. Nutmeg has also been used as a pain reliever and for indigestion.
Like cinnamon, ginger works well as a digestive aid because it contains gingerol, a compound that has been shown to relieve indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve to inflammation and joint pain.
Note: Fresh ginger contains the most gingerol and can be kept in the freezer for up to six months.
You'll find cloves in popular holiday foods such as gingerbread and fruitcakes. They're hot and pungent to the taste and stimulate the digestive system. They also have mild anesthetic properties. Studies have also shown that cloves provide relief from the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, while also lowering blood sugar levels and triglycerides.
Cardamom serves as both a digestive aid and antiseptic and contains high amounts of iron and manganese. The oil of cardamom has also been used to heal infections and as an anesthetic. You'll find cardamom in drinks, rice dishes, and desserts, particularly in the Middle East.
Star anise comes from the fruit of a tree in China and has properties that are both antifungal and anti-candida. It's also been used to fight the flu.
Though these holiday spices have my health benefits, resist the urge to over-indulge in seasonal goodies. Download Matrix Age Management’s holiday eating guide equipt with healthy holiday options to help you stay on track.