Health benefits of Indian spices

Red, yellow, green, black, brown…  a colour riot that exudes aroma. A mere pinch can take away your health woes while giving your food a flavour that is unparalleled. No wonder Indian spices are “smoking hot” all across the globe!

Indian cooking is known for its use of a variety of spices. A pinch of this and touch of that can make a world of difference to the taste of a dish. However, these spices are good, not just for your taste buds, but also for you health. Find out the various health benefits these spices give.

Indian spices and their health benefits

Asafoetida (heeng, hing): This pungent, sharp and very strong spice has a taste and flavour so potent that even a pinch of it is enough to make all the difference in your cooking. Its medicinal usage is largely for its digestive properties. Heeng is added to foods that are considered gas-producing in nature. It helps in easy digestion and relieves colic in infants.

Cinnamon (dalchini): These are long, dark brown and dried sticks with a flavour that leans towards the sweet, as well as the mildly hot. It aids in digestion and is also known for its blood sugar and cholesterol lowering properties. Cinnamon tea is a great way to ward off nausea, flatulence and common cold.

Read more about the health benefits of cinnamon, here.

Cardamom (elaichi): The most aromatic of all Indian spices, our very own elaichi is consumed in two forms – green (choti elaichi) and black (badi elaichi) pods. Bad breath, loss of appetite, depression, indigestion, nausea; you name it, cardamom cures it. It is a great carminative (causing expulsion of gas), diuretic (causing urination), digestive, expectorant (helps bring up phlegm from lung etc) and stimulant. Besides providing health benefits, who can do away without a hot elaichi chai?

Cloves: These dried flower buds of the clove tree are considered one of the “hottest” among spices. They have antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Being a natural anesthetic, it is used as a remedy for toothache since ages.

Black pepper (kali mirch): This dried fruit is a digestive, stimulant, appetizer, expectorant and a great nervine tonic (it acts upon therapeutically upon the nerves). Most of us have used it as an effective home remedy for cough and cold.

Fenugreek (methi): Bitter in taste, methi seeds are of excellent medicinal virtue. They are a great blood purifier, laxative, help in maintaining metabolism, prevent constipation and act as an antidote for several skin problems. Methi paste, applied on the scalp, helps in nourishing and regenerating hair.

Turmeric (haldi): This dried root is a natural anti-septic and anti-inflammatory, hence an effective home remedy for small cuts, wounds and arthritis. Turmeric is being researched widely for its anti-cancer properties. And many a lovely lady will swear by its contribution in giving that special glow to the skin.

Red chilli powder (lal mirch): This super spicy chilli powder sure knows how to pack a punch – in terms of its fieriness, as well as health benefits. The powder is known to reduce LDL or bad cholesterol, and is also rich in antioxidants like vitamin A and flavonoids like beta-carotene. Fresh chillies are also a good source of vitamin C.

Saffron (kesar): This expensive, golden, thread-like spice is an effective anti-oxidant, possesses anti-ageing properties, is rich in vitamins and minerals, acts as an anti-depressant and is heart friendly. Saffron is a potent natural aphrodisiac too.

Find out more about the health properties of saffron, here.

Fennel (saunf): These small green seeds are not only the heart of several dishes and pickles but are also eaten as a post meals as a mouth freshener.  Fennel is carminative (gas/flatulence releasing) by nature. These seeds are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, iron, and fibre. Fennel is a known antispasmodic and is used to relieve colic, especially in infants and children.

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