Turmeric and cinnamon are spices that add flavor to foods and appear to have health benefits. These spices are inexpensive, calorie-free and easy to find in most supermarkets and natural foods stores. Because tumeric and cinnamon are safe with no side effects, they may be worth a try for their potential health benefits. Keep in mind that ground spices release flavor more slowly than whole spices.
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Turmeric is a spice commonly used to make Indian curries. It has a distinctive yellow pigment and is usually sold in ground form. It comes from a root related to ginger. Turmeric has been used for many years in Asian countries to treat a variety of health problems. MayoClinic.com notes that turmeric can compliment rice, potatoes and lentils, giving your dishes a sharp, spicy flavor.
Turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In a study of 45 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, published in the March 9, 2012 issue of “Phytotherapy Research,” 500 milligrams of curcumin, an antioxidant in turmeric, improved symptoms as well as a prescription anti-inflammatory. Heart patients may also benefit from turmeric. Treatment with curcumin helped promote healing after a heart attack in a study published in the July 24, 2012 issue of the “British Journal of Pharmacology.” Because inflammation may play a role in cancer, turmeric is also being studied as a possible cancer therapy. Laboratory and animal studies regarding curcumin and cancer are promising, but studies in humans are just beginning, notes MayoClinic.com.
Cinnamon comes from the bark of the evergreen cinnamon and cassia trees. A wide variety of cinnamon types are available throughout the world, with the cinnamon sold in grocery stores usually a combination of many different kinds , according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The flavor can vary from spicy to sweet. MayoClinic.com suggests adding cinnamon to sweet vegetables, such as squash and sweet potatoes. Cinnamon is also delicious in fruits salads, baked beans and pumpkin pies, as well as sprinkled on top of hot cocoa, oatmeal or toast. Cinnamon comes in ground and stick forms.
Research suggests cinnamon lowers glucose, possibly by boosting the effect of insulin in the body. In a review of six clinical trials published in the May 12, 2012 issue of “Clinical Nutrition,” 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon taken daily for up to four months lowered the blood sugar levels of patients with type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon may also have a beneficial effect on cholesterol. In one animal study published in the April 4, 2012 issue of “Pharmacognosy Research,” cinnamon lowered total and LDL cholesterol in both healthy and diabetic rats. However, MayoClinic.com notes evidence showing that cinnamon lowers cholesterol is scarce.
- MayoClinic.com: Guide to Spices
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Is It True That Cinnamon Can Lower Blood Sugar in People with Diabetes?
- Phytotherapy Research: A Randomized, Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis
- British Journal of Pharmacology: Curcumin Promotes Cardiac Repair Following Myocardial Infarction
- Clinical Nutrition: Cinnamon in Glycaemic Control
- Pharmacognosy Research: Effects of Ceylon Cinnamon in Diabetic and Healthy Rats