4 Health-Boosting Spices I Always Have in My Pantry
I am a firm believer in using natural, whole, and organic foods as the first line of defense for superior health. That said, I’m also a realist. As the owner of my own medical practice, and as a full-time doctor, mom, wife, daughter, and sister, my life is busy — to say the least. I don’t have a lot of time to spend on complicated recipes and grocery bags full of supplements. That’s why I love to rely on certain health boosting spices.
Eastern healing practices such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine have used spices for their health benefits for thousands of years. The following five are my favorites.
I’ll start with my favorite. If I had to choose one spice to include in my diet every day — and I do — it would be turmeric. This mustard-colored spice contains bioactive compounds that have powerful medicinal properties, including potent antioxidants. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory due to its main ingredient, curcumin, but there’s even more to this member of the ginger family. Turmeric has been shown to prevent colds and flu by stimulating your immune system. It reduces arthritis pain, relieves digestive issues, prevents cancer, and boosts your memory and your mood.
Pro Tip: Another digestion-friendly, anti-inflammatory spice, cumin is made from the ground seeds of a plant related to the parsley family.
2. Cayenne Pepper
This spicy hot red pepper has been shown to aid digestion, reduce headaches, increases circulation, and boosts your immune system. Cayenne also contains capsaicin, a plant compound that has pain-relieving effects. And it has vitamin C, B6, potassium, manganese, and other flavonoids. I like to add a teaspoon of cayenne to chili, tomato sauce, and soups.
3. Black Pepper
It sits innocently next to your salt shaker, but did you know that black pepper is a natural anti-inflammatory, and also boosts the bioavailability of turmeric?
You can add pepper to just about any savory recipe. I also like to make this tea that features both the pepper and turmeric: Boil some water, add a black or green tea bag, 2 teaspoons ground turmeric, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon honey. Put it all in a mug and steep for 5 minutes.
4. Garlic Powder
Garlic is a powerhouse. It contains allicin, which gives it antibacterial and antiviral properties. It’s also anti-fungal and anti-parasitic. Oh and it’s also delicious. On busy weeknights, sauté vegetables of your choice with some cut-up chicken, and add a splash of bone broth and plenty of garlic powder. Fast, easy, healthy.
Dr. Taz Bhatia specializes in integrative and functional medicine. Founder of CentreSpringMD, she is also an acupuncturist and nutrition specialist. She is the author of Super Woman Rx, What Doctors Eat, and The 21 Day Belly Fix, and host of The Dr. Taz Show and Kitchen Cures.