March 23rd, 2018

To Your Health: Spice up your life, enjoy the health benefits

By Gillian Slade on March 12, 2018.

A British comedian’s routine about spices has me in paroxysms of laughter every time I watch it on YouTube. It also makes me aware of what we are missing by not spicing up our food more.

Michael McIntyre talks about the “arrogance” of salt and pepper that daily take pride of place on the dining table. Other spices watch from the sidelines of spice racks or the pantry with envy and talk about their longing to also get a show in.

Herbs and spices can breathe life into your food by enhancing flavours and there are health benefits too.

Tumeric, an intense deep yellow spice with anti-inflammatory properties, can help to relieve pain associated with arthritis. It also improves your liver function. There are many ways to incorporate it in your diet. Try adding it to the water when cooking rice. It adds rich colour and flavour. If you add raisins to the water it will become a typical South African rice dish.

Tumeric is also great in sour cream or plain yogurt on a baked potato. Add it to your avocado on toast and to scrambled egg and poached eggs.

There is research that now suggests turmeric may protect the brain from damage that could cause dementia.

In Italy every little balcony overlooking a cobblestone road has flower pots that exuberantly spill parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Our climate does not lend itself to this practice but we can grow some in pots on the windowsill.

Healthy salads take on delightful flavours with spices. Hot chilies and cayenne pepper increase your metabolism. Roll out some flaky pastry, liberally sprinkle with cayenne pepper, cut into little strips, less than a cm wide, and bake in the oven for tasty snacks.

Ginger can settle your stomach, stimulate digestion, and even bring some relief from morning sickness. Ginger tea made with just hot water and a few pieces of fresh ginger tastes good too and won’t stain your teeth like black tea does.

Cinnamon can also help you make the transition away from sugar. It provides another flavour and dimension to not only yogurt but also porridge. You can also sprinkle it on a slice of lightly buttered whole wheat toast. There is research that suggests cinnamon can stimulate the hippocampus and improve your brain power.

Enhanced flavours from herbs will mean you need less salt, without even realizing it, and that is good for you.

A study in the U.S. determined spices can combat the detrimental effects of high fat foods and the triglycerides in your blood. That is good for your heart.

Here’s to seasoning your food and life with herbs and spices and here’s To Your Health.

See the YouTube clip at

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at or 403-528-8635

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