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Health: Top 5 easy to use anti-inflammatory herbs and spices



Monday, October 02, 2017

There are lots of anti-inflammatory herbs and spices to be used in food preparation.  I chose the following five because they are super easy to use in simple daily cooking.

1. Turmeric has gained quite a reputation as a super food.  It has been used in cooking and traditional medicine for centuries in India and China. But earlier this year a new review of the scientific literature on curcumin, the most well-known chemical in turmeric, suggests that the compound has limited, if any, actual health benefits.  This new wrinkle may be due to curcumin’s low absorption rate.  Or maybe it is some other compound in the spice which causes the therapeutic effect.  Most health experts are not willing to throw out the baby with the bath water at this point. If you are going to use this herb for inflammation make sure it is in the presence of black pepper and fat to improve absorption.

2. Ginger is another herb that has been used in Asian cuisine for centuries. Ginger has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties like ibuprofen and COX-2 inhibitors such as Celebrex. Ginger also suppresses inflammatory molecules and switches off certain inflammatory genes which may make it even more effective than conventional pain relievers.  I love fresh ginger in my smoothies. 

3.  Cinnamon is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb due to powerful antioxidants which help in repairing tissue damage leading to effective control of inflammation. The cinnamon bark is known to contain essential oils that contain three important and volatile constituents that work toward the reduction of inflammation: cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, and linalool.

4.  Cayenne to has been touted for its anti-inflammatory benefits for centuries. Capsaicinoids are the natural compounds that give chili peppers their healing properties.  Cayenne pepper is very easy to use and adds another level of flavor or a bit of heat to a dish.  You can use it in sautéed vegetables, soups, egg dishes and casseroles.  Just a about a ¼ teaspoon is all it takes to add some interest to a dish.

5.  Garlic belongs to a group of foods called alliums.  Other alliums include scallions, leeks, and onions.  They are great protection against inflammation because of their powerful antioxidant properties and their high levels of sulfur. I try to use them in everything I cook.  It’s a good thing I am not much of a baker!

You can check out the recipe section of my website, www.SmartNutritionLLC.com for some delicious recipes that use these spices, such as Vegetable Curry and Golden Milk for turmeric, Peach Ginger Smoothie (and the Vegetable Curry) for ginger, Cinnamon Apple Quinoa Hot Cereal for cinnamon, and Spicy Coconut Salmon for the cayenne.

Ruth Clark is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a master’s in Public Health and over 35 years of experience.  She lives in Sharon with an office in Peterborough and sees clients in Keene (Jeni’s Skin Care).  Ruth specializes in mid-life women who are struggling with weight, mood and fatigue to regain their energy and vitality.