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Boost Your Health With Holiday Spices

If you’re looking to eat healthier this holiday season, you may not need to look further than your spice rack. Not only can some of your favorite seasonal spices add a little holiday cheer to your favorite dishes, they can also increase the nutritional benefit of each bite that you take.

Ginger

Historically, ginger has been credited with settling an upset stomach; however, the benefits of ginger go far beyond occasional stomach relief. In fact, ginger contains very powerful anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These compounds have been shown to reduce pain in those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis when consumed regularly. Gingerols may also help inhibit the growth of human colorectal and ovarian cancer cells.

To get more ginger in your diet, try Broiled Nectarines with Ginger Syrup

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a flavorful herb that enhances the flavor of potatoes, chicken, fish, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage dishes. In a recent study, nutmeg has been shown to play a role in tooth decay prevention due to its antibacterial properties.

To get more nutmeg in your diet, try Greek Yogurt with Honey Roasted Figs

Cinnamon

This spice comes to us from the brown bark of a cinnamon tree and is available all year long. Nevertheless, cinnamon appears to become much more popular once the temperatures begin to dip and shows up in a variety of holiday-inspired dishes. Luckily, because of the essential oils found within the bark, this spice not only tastes good, but is good for you. From anti-clotting properties to helping individuals keep blood sugar levels under control, finding ways to incorporate cinnamon into your day can pay off in the long run. And if that’s not enough to get you swapping your sugar for cinnamon this year, the health benefits don’t stop there. Cinnamon has also been linked to improve brain function, reduction of bacterial infections, and improved cardiovascular and colon health because of its fiber, iron, calcium and manganese content.

To get more cinnamon in your diet, try Cinnamon Pecan Muffins

Peppermint

Peppermint is almost an integral component of holiday cheer. From hot cocoa to decadent dessert, peppermint often finds its way into some of our more sweeter food traditions. Peppermint is practically calorie free and can help soothe your stomach and help you breathe easier. This spice is also rich in manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin A – all important nutrients for overall health and wellness. If you are looking for new ways to use this spice, consider using it in tea or coffee for a great flavor boost.

To get more peppermint in your diet, try Chocolate Mint Pie

Cloves

These dried pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree are great additions to any holiday meal. From pumpkin pie to chili, cloves add a unique flavor to any dish they are added to. Plus, cloves also contain many important nutrients our bodies need to function properly. Manganese, fiber, vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, and magnesium can all be found inside a tiny clove. Additionally, cloves have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and have an incredible concentration of antioxidants. This means that they can help keep cell-damaging free radicals at bay.

To get more cloves in your diet, try Pork Fajita Pitas

Another benefit of using herbs and spices this holiday season? You’ll find that incorporating a wide array of these ingredients will not only enhance your health and increase the flavor of your favorite dish, but will more than likely result in a reduction of both sugar and salt. Overall, looking for ways to incorporate more seasonings like these holiday favorites can help you eat and feel your best.

December 5th, 2011

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