Herbs and spices add bursts of flavour to any meal, but not all are created equal. Explore these swaps to achieve your health goals.
This bright red, fiery pepper stimulates the body’s stress response which then reduces appetite and cuts the number of calories you consume, says Professor Mary-Jon Ludy from Bowling Green State University in the US.
Cayenne also increases metabolism, so you could burn about 42kL more after eating it, she adds. You need about half a teaspoon of cayenne at a meal to get results.
NEXT: To protect your memory… →
“Rosemary improves circulation to the brain and has been shown to help improve memory,” says naturopath Katherine Maslen.
Rosemary is also linked to longevity. Acciaroli, a village in Italy, is home to more than 300 residents aged over 100. Their secret? It’s believed the high amounts of rosemary in their diet might be one of the reasons.
NEXT: To get more antioxidants… →
Made from the dried berries of the Jamaican pimento tree, allspice will give a more pungent kick than traditional spices used in sweet dishes, but, on average, it contains four times more antioxidants than nutmeg and 25 per cent more than cinnamon.
Allspice also contains eugenol, the same oil found in basil leaves, which means it works well in the same dishes that basil does, too, explains Ian Hemphil, director of Herbie’s Spices. Try using it in rich tomato sauces or meaty stews.
NEXT: To ease joint pain… →
Fresh basil leaves contain natural oils with known anti-inflammatory properties that make it a good swap for arthritis sufferers. (Inflammation is behind much of the pain associated with arthritic conditions.)
On top of this, you’ll get a bone boost from making the swap as basil contains higher levels of bone-building minerals than oregano. One teaspoon of dried basil contains twice the vitamin K, twice the magnesium and nearly 10 per cent more calcium.
NEXT: To lift your mood… →
Spicy ginger tea might feel comforting, but for a longer-lasting mood boost, try a warm drink made from turmeric, known to have antidepressant properties.
“Depression is associated with inflammation, free radical damage and disturbances in stress hormones. A substance called curcumin, derived from turmeric, can normalise all of these factors,” explains psychologist Dr Adrian Lopresti from Perth’s Murdoch University.
NEXT: To fight ageing… →
Both work well in sauces, but here’s why you should pick parsley: it’s one of the top 10 SIRT foods, foods containing nutrients that activate proteins in the body called sirtuins, which help protect cells from dying.
And, it’s incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet – simply garnish over pastas, stews or meats.
NEXT: To balance your hormones… →
Drinking two cups of spearmint tea a day for a month can lower levels of testosterone and reduce the excess hair growth often associated with polycystic ovary syndrome.
Spearmint also contains higher levels of rosemarinic acid than peppermint, and this has been shown to have antioxidant, antiviral and anti-allergic actions.
NEXT: To lose weight… →
By Atika Lim, The Singapore Women’s Weekly, December 2017
Like this? Read more healthy living stories here,