Food & Drink/5 Tummy-Friendly Spices To Add To Your Meals
5 Tummy-Friendly Spices To Add To Your Mealsby Hannah Nguyen ● 17/01/2022 ● 7 min read
Spices are the food kingdom’s gem.
Not only do they make your meals look appetizing, but they also elevate the taste and flavor of your favorite food.
And with the right blend of spices, not only will you upgrade your recipes from “Ho-Hum” to “Hooray,” but it could also bring exponential benefits to your digestive system.
But before we go any further, let’s first take a look at how spices can be beneficial to your overall health.
The Importance Of Spices In Your Life
On top of enhancing the flavor, aroma, and appearance of everyday dishes, spices provide protection and nourishment you won’t find anywhere else.
A Natural Preservative
Foodborne bacteria are the most common cause of outbreaks, especially in tropical climates where unrefrigerated foods spoil quickly.
Spices can kill or inhibit the growth of these invaders before they can produce enough toxins to harm the human body.
In a study published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the researchers analyzed hundreds of recipes and their protective properties.
Of all the spices they examined, garlic, onion, allspice, and oregano came up on top with the most potent antimicrobial properties.
Another hypothesis from the study is based on free radicals. Experts hypothesized that since phytochemicals help retard the oxidation of oil or fat in foods, the production of free radicals slows down. Thus, spice-rich foods don’t spoil as quickly.
Here’s another example.
A 20-year study showed that 29.2 out of 100,000 Japanese suffered from food poisoning.
On the contrary, only 3 out of 100,000 Koreans did.
How did this happen?
It turns out that while the Japanese collectively used more spices (14) than those in Korea (8), Korean recipes more frequently require at least one spice, contain more spices per recipe, and more often call for highly antimicrobial spices.
May Help Control Your Appetite
If you want to control your cravings, why not add a few chilis to your meals?
A recent study published in Purdue University suggests that capsaicin, which gives chili peppers their heat, can potentially reduce hunger.
The key to its appetite-controlling effect is its ability to stimulate the body’s “fight or flight” response.
The study explains that when you eat chilies, the receptors in your mouth get turned on and ramp up the metabolism.
In effect, you tend to consume fewer calories and lengthen the time until your desire to eat arises again.
Spices Can Help Reduce Your Sodium Intake
Did you know that the daily recommended sodium intake is just 2,300 milligrams or about one teaspoon?
Unfortunately, our modern diet prevents us from maintaining this daily health quota as we sometimes go overboard thanks to the abundance of processed and packaged foods.
This is terrible news because a diet high in sodium may lead to severe heart conditions.
“People seem to more typically worry about fat or sugar, but not as much about their salt consumption. Yet, the data show that excessive sodium intake is strongly linked to higher blood pressure, particularly among those who already have hypertension,” said Cheryl Anderson, Ph.D. associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
To address this growing concern of sodium intake, Anderson and her colleagues at John Hopkins University developed a 20-week program called the “SPICE Study.”
This program teaches adults how to use certain herbs and spices instead of salt in their recipes.
Recent results brought positive results as some participants reduced their sodium intake by 966 mg per day compared to those outside the program.
Data from the SPICE Study suggests that relying more on spices and herbs may sensitize your palette to lower sodium levels.
And once you’re used to lowering sodium levels, it might be easier to choose whole foods over processed goods, thereby increasing your resistance against cardiovascular diseases.
Some Spices Have Brain-Boosting Properties
Many spices inside your kitchen cabinet contain powerful brain-boosting nutrients.
The good news is that these spices are super easy to incorporate in cakes, pastries, savory dishes, and even drinks.
For example, cinnamon is famous for its ability to improve your memory, increase retention, and enhance creative thinking.
Nutmeg contains potent compounds that can help eliminate stress, fatigue, and even anxiety. This spice can also improve your memory, focus, and creative thinking.
Cloves are a good source of manganese – a mineral essential for normal brain function.
Cardamom has antioxidant properties that help protect the brain against free radicals. It also helps increase the hormone serotonin to improve your mood and reduce anxiety.
What Spices Are Amazing For Your Digestive Health?
Let’s start with one of the most popular spices around.
Ginger is a versatile spice that goes well with any savory dish, dessert, or beverage.
If you feel nauseous or you just want to get rid of gas, ginger is the right choice for you.
This spice helps prevent gas buildup, which may cause bloating, cramping, and that undesirable urge to throw up.
It also helps improve your digestion by stimulating your digestive tract so that food moves through your system, thereby reducing the risk of gas buildup.
Tip: You may add a few slices of ginger and a teaspoon of honey to your morning tea. For extra flavor, squeeze a few lemon drops for an added boost in immunity.
This spice contains a high level of curcumin which is famous for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
It is also effective in promoting bile production, so your body can break down fats easily. Without it, your body can’t use fat as energy.
Tip: Add a pinch of turmeric to scrambled eggs to add more color and flavor. Turmeric also pairs well with any coconut-based recipe. So we highly recommend adding turmeric to coconut stews or curry recipes. For an Asian-inspired side dish, toss it with roasted vegetables for an extra flavor.
Mint contains menthol, which has been shown to help relieve upset stomach by relaxing the intestinal muscles.
It can also help encourage bile flow and secretion for better digestion.
However, if your issue involves the upper gastrointestinal tract, you may need to stay away from the mint.
That’s because mint can relax the sphincter muscle, which prevents your stomach’s content from backing up into your esophagus.
Tip: On top of preparing peppermint tea, you can add fresh mint to your salad dressing or smoothies. You may also add mint to your pesto dishes for a more refreshing flavor.
This spice is an effective cure for constipation, gas, and bloating by not allowing food to sit in your digestive system for a long time.
Plus, fennel seeds have high fiber content, which may aid in regulating bowel movements.
And thanks to its antimicrobial properties, chewing fennel seeds could make your breath smell fresh after meals. You can also drink fennel tea before bed or when you wake up to banish morning breath.
Tip: You can ground fennel seeds and add them to soups, sauces, fish recipes, fish soup, and curries. Ungrounded fennel seeds are ideal for sweet dishes, biscuits, and bread. Put a few fennel seeds into coleslaw or potato salad for a gut-friendly salad. You can also mix grounded fennel seeds with your favorite salad dressing.
This list won’t be complete without this beautiful spice.
It promotes gastric juice and enzyme production to help break down food particles. It can also stimulate salivary glands to produce more saliva so that your gut can readily digest food.
Another reason for adding cayenne pepper is its weight loss benefits due to its high capsaicin content.
This compound has been shown to boost metabolism so your body can burn calories much faster.
What’s more, cayenne pepper is a powerful antidote to Candida overgrowth.
Candida is a type of yeast that can damage your gut lining and cause toxins to seep into your bloodstream, causing severe health issues.
Cayenne pepper can promote detoxification to help your body combat the effects of Candida overgrowth.
Tip: You may put a dash of cayenne powder into a cup of hot chocolate drink or morning coffee as a natural energy drink. Level up your breakfast by adding a pinch of cayenne to your omelet or morning toast.
5 Quick Tips For Cooking With Spices
- Use spices in moderation to enhance the flavor of your food.
- Maximize the aroma and flavor of spices by using them right away.
- Buy them whole and grind them yourself because freshly ground spices are much better than pre-ground ones.
- To release the flavor of your spices, quickly toast them in a dry pan or cook them in hot oil.
- It’s best to add spices towards the end of the cooking process to preserve their flavor and allow the flavors to interact.
Spices are more than just flavor enhancers.
They also contain powerful nutrients that are proven to nourish and protect your gut.
So instead of relying on artificial flavorings, go ahead and explore the wonderful world of spices.
Not only will they make your dining experience much more enjoyable, but your overall health will also benefit.