If you haven’t noticed yet, at Hart & Soul we love to use spices in our creations. From Red Curry, to Sweet Potato & Ginger (and who could forget our notorious Tarka Dahl?), we often incorporate the warming antimicrobial benefits of spices to our dishes. Commonly used in cooking to add a spark of flavour and interest to our food, spices are also known to have exceptional healing qualities.
Let start with our most commonly used: CHILLI
Besides being one of the primary features of curries eaten all over the world, chilli contains a substance called capsaicin. Found within the seeds and veins of a chilli (the hotter the chilli, the more capsaicin it contains), it is most commonly known to help fight bodily inflammation. Capsaicin also helps to eliminate irritants and reduce pain from ailments such as headaches, sinus pressure, muscular injury and joint soreness.
Red chillies (such as cayenne) are rich in capsaicin, and are said to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They also boost the body’s capability to dissolve fibrin, a substance that increases the likelihood of blood clots developing.
As if they couldn’t have enough benefits, chillies are also packed with vitamins and minerals- predominantly Vitamins A and C, but also Vitamins B & E, Potassium, (necessary for cellular health and blood pressure), Iron and Magnesium, which is essential for healthy muscle function and regulating blood sugar levels.
Our next favourite spice is: TURMERIC.
The fundamental active element of turmeric (the one that gives it a vibrant golden colour) is curcumin – an element responsible for many of turmeric’s notable health benefits.
A member of the Ginger family, Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years as a treatment for inflammatory conditions. It is also believed to act as an antiviral, antibacterial and anti-parasitic aid, and has long been used to help with conditions such as diabetes, rheumatism, arthritis, and skin conditions such as eczema.
It is worth noting that although Ayurvedic science is widely considered a form of alternative medicine, no scientific research has been able to fully demonstrate the internal effects of turmeric yet.
At Hart & Soul, we also love: GINGER.
Spicy, peppery, zesty and biting…yet sweet and warm at the same time. A classic favourite, ginger is loaded with health benefits including digestion improvement, and regulation of blood sugar levels.
We’ve all experienced an upset stomach and nausea at least once in our lives, and we can all agree that it’s not fun at all! If you haven’t already, time to introduce Ginger- shown to be a powerful antidote for poorly stomachs.
Sickness aside, there is so much more to ginger- research shows it has been used for centuries as an immune booster, fighting those pesky winter colds and bugs.
More commonly for lovers, Ginger is also known to be a potent aphrodisiac… we’re just going to leave this here!
Anyone with a sweet tooth? Why don’t you try: CINNAMON
Cinnamon is shown to control blood glucose levels and minimise insulin spikes- perfect for when you experience afternoon sugar cravings at your desk. Simply sprinkle some your favourite piece of fruit (we love it on sliced apples) and say bye bye to that 3pm slump!
Cinnamon can also stimulate sweating, which can aid the curing of common colds and infections. Applied topically on stings, bites, cuts and wounds, Cinnamon also has great antiseptic properties.
And finally, our old favourite: GARLIC
Known for their sharp flavour and strong taste, Garlic belongs to the onion family- of which other family favourites such onions, leeks, chives, and shallots belong.
Besides being one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, garlic is also seen as a trusted remedy for infection and viruses, and is a great source of Vitamin B6 (significant to protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism and the creation of red blood cells in the body).
Early research has also shown that Garlic can help aid in reducing cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of heart disease.
The history of spices is lengthy and fascinating. Not only do they add flavour and aroma to your favourite dishes, but they also have powerful properties in promoting optimum health!
We think it’s time to go back to our roots and get back to basics with the magic of spice. So, the next time you feel a cold coming- instead of reaching out for your medicine cabinet, take a trip to your kitchen and make use of that spice rack!