Do you know that the world was first circumnavigated in the quest to look for spices? On September 19, 1520, Portuguese-born Ferdinand Magellan set out from Spain in search of an island known in the Eastern Hemisphere for its spices.
The fleet, composed of five ships passed through the Atlantic, sailed through the south coast of South America, and crossed the Atlantic. The fleet landed on a remote island in the Philippines and got killed by natives. The remaining two ships then found the island they were looking for, loaded spice, and sailed for home. The only remaining ship, the Victoria, landed in Spain with spices on board, on September 6, 1522, after traversing the Indian Ocean.
Spices have always been important to man since time immemorial. They do not only add flavor to our food, but they are also used in traditional medicine. From oriental cuisine, be it Indian, Chinese, Thai and their Western counterparts, food is enriched with spices to achieve their desired flavors while deriving their amazing health benefits.
Here are some spices that can really ‘spice up your life’ because they are not only flavorful but will make you healthier also:
Probably, garlic is one of the most popular spices in both Oriental and Western cuisine. It is native to most parts of Asia. Its medicinal value lies in its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Integrating garlic in home-cooked meals or eating them raw daily can help you to regulate your cholesterol levels. It is also being used in some Asian countries to fight some skin infections and toothache.
Ginger has a distinct flavor and has a special place in many Asian menus. This root crop is widely used in Chinese therapy for many health conditions, including physical and mental ailments. It can help with indigestion, nausea, flu, and some respiratory problems.
Some people may not bear the taste of peppers. With powdered paprika, we are treated with a more subdued taste of the flavor of pepper with its incredible health benefits. This flavorful spice is rich with anti-inflammatory agents and is used to treat indigestion by increasing saliva and stomach acids. It is also known to decrease cholesterol and promote eye health.
This is a favorite spice among many households worldwide. Aside from its distinct flavor, it can be used in many dishes and pastries. It is composed largely of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that protect the body from many diseases. It is also trending among people with problems with their bulging tummies.
Also called cilantro, all parts of this wonder herb can be used in cooking dishes. It has six essential oils and lots of vitamins and minerals making it rich with many health benefits. Among its health benefits are; blood pressure and cholesterol control, proper digestion, improvement of bone, eye, and oral health, and it can help with menstrual problems. Coriander has also anti-oxidative and anti-allergic properties, making it a perfect ingredient for beauty products.
This wonder root crop is easily the most notable among other spices in Indian cuisine although it is now being integrated into other cuisines. Turmeric is endowed with anti-oxidative, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it one of the best herbs when it comes to health benefits to the body. Although it is excellent for the promotion of brain, heart, liver, and kidney health, it is particularly used by arthritis patients.
Cayenne is readily available in the US, India, and Mexico and can be the spiciest of all spices. It is used in many dishes that only those with a knack for peppery food can take. Regular consumption of cayenne aids in weight loss, proper digestion, blood pressure control, fight against cancer, pain relief, detoxification, and airway congestion.
Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices nowadays. It produces a piney and menthol-like flavor when used in preparing food. It is a rich source of zinc, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Spicing up your dishes with cardamom regularly will help you to have a healthier heart, enhanced oral and skin health, and proper digestion. It can also help fight depression, diabetes, asthma, and the formation of blood clots.
Cloves have a pungent taste and are one of the most flexible spices as they can be used in dishes, desserts, drinks, and as an essential oil in aromatherapy. As powerhouses of antioxidants, antiseptics, and a whole lot of fibers, minerals, and vitamins, cloves are known to treat many health conditions. It is widely used to relieve pain and induce relaxation.
Most people are familiar with this herb as it is often used in sauces, pastries, and soups. Dill is also known for its medicinal values. It aids in digestion, promotion of oral health, management of insomnia, regulation of menstruation, and as a fast cure to hiccups.
Mustard seeds are particularly popular in the US being the second most used spice. This must be because they go well with any type of meat like beef, poultry, pork, fish, and other kinds of seafood. The health benefits of mustard can range from helping you with your high cholesterol levels and chronic and arthritic pain. Your appetite will also be improved with regular consumption.
Easily the most used spice all over the world, peppercorns should not only be used regularly because of their powerful flavor but also for their health benefits. They are powerhouses of Vitamin K, manganese, and iron and have ample benefits for people with problems with their weight, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure.
There are still so many spices around and they come in their distinct flavors and nutritional and health values. The best part is, they are now readily available in supermarkets as processed or fresh goods. Today, there is no need to circumnavigate the world, just as Magellan did. With the availability of spices everywhere, we definitely have no reason not to have flavorful and healthy foods.