Spices have been used for thousands of years to enhance food, but for nearly as long as we’ve been stirring, mixing, and sprinkling spices into our meals, we’ve also been using them for their health benefits.

Because herbs and spices have a very low-calorie content and are relatively inexpensive, they’re also a great way to get a lot of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power into your diet.

So why not take your cooking up a notch with these four powerful and delightful flavours.

Garlic

Garlic was used and revered for its life-giving properties throughout ancient China, Japan, Egypt, Greece, and the Middle East. Studies have shown that garlic helps provide resistance to the flu, may lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of stomach cancer. It can also act as a mild decongestant.

Chilli

All chillies, even the milder ones, have healing properties. Besides being packed with vitamin C – they contain capsaicinoids, compounds that cause ‘heat’ by stimulating pain receptors in the mouth and nose. That ‘burn’ in spicy chilli releases endorphins and, according to research published in the International Journal of Obesity, may help suppress appetite and boost metabolism

Turmeric

Used in Indian cuisine, this spice helps reduce inflammation, high levels of which may be a significant cause of obesity and difficulty in losing weight. Recent studies have also found that it is beneficial in fighting diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Add turmeric to curries for a dash of extra flavour or mix with warm milk, cinnamon and honey for a delicious healthful tonic.

Cinnamon

This spice has long been a favourite flavour and common kitchen spice. It was mentioned in the Bible and considered more valuable than gold in some ancient cultures – even Lana Del Rey dedicated a song to it. Apart from adding flavour to pastries and tagines, it has also been touted as a cure for coughs and indigestion, an impressive source of antioxidants, and a reliable enhancer of insulin activity. What’s not to love?

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