Be it “mirchi ka achaar”, mom’s special “dhania chutney” or grandma’s legendary “hing tarke wali dhal”; we love to add a bit of zing to our plate. For all of you who love to spice it up a bit, this article will definitely be a treat.
Food need not be boring to be healthy and soulful. You can always spice it up a bit! These 10 spices have benefits that you didn’t know about…
1.HOT CHILLIES – They are the most pungent spices. Green chili is the fresh fruit from the green chili plant. Capsaicin is the principle of hot paprika or chili peppers. The maximum concentration of capsaicin is in the inner wall of the fruit and not in the seeds. If whole green chilies are used in cooking and taken out before serving, they impart a flavor without making the food unduly pungent.
Capsaicin stimulates the digestive system. It is not only good for your sour throat but also stimulates blood circulation. But like every any other thing in life, don’t use it in excess. They are not well accepted by people who have an irritable colon.
2.CINNAMON – Cinnamon is used in biryani, chicken curry, cakes, doughnuts and many other exotic dishes. It is the dried, thin inner bark of the cinnamon tree. This bark is the proud owner of about 1% essential oils, mainly cinnamic aldehyde. Besides being carminative it also contains Methyl hydroxy chalcone polymer which is a flavonoid and acts as an antioxidant (fights free radical, your food body-guard).
3.CARDAMOM – Cardamom is derived from the seed of the plant Elettaria cardamomum. It has a pleasant flavor and when used in curry dishes or kheer/payesum, it adds the extra brownie points. It has a carminative action. (Carminative- Any agent that prevents gas formation and helps in fighting flatulence.)
4.CLOVES – They are dark brown, with bulbous ends, and are used for imparting flavor to food. The essential oil present in cloves is highly beneficial as it act as a carminative, stimulant, anti-flatulent and has antihelminthic properties. Cloves are a natural remedy for a toothache and help in eliminating bad breath.
5.ASAFOETIDA (Hing) – It contains an essential oil, gum, and a resin. The odour comprises of ferulic ester and sulphur containing volatile oil. It acts as an antimicrobial agent and helps in fighting whooping cough and chronic bronchitis. It also increases the detoxification enzyme in our body.
6.MUSTARD – Mustard is obtained from the powdered seeds of the plants Brassica nigra (black mustard) or Brassica alba (white mustard). Mustard seeds are rich in sulphur containing compounds namely the dithiol thione which protects against the toxic effects of aflatoxin. It is beneficial in combating cold and fights congestion.
7.TURMERIC – The gold queen. Be it in beauty treatments or as an antiseptic, turmeric has its own “Midas touch”. The coloring substance present in turmeric is known as curcumin. Remember grandma’s “haldi wala doodh” or “kacha holud” early in the morning? It enhances your immunity power and this magic occurs because of the presence of the phenolic compounds – curcuminoids. It dilutes the effect of toxins in the body, relieves cold, cough and sore throat and much more.
8.GINGER – The pungency of ginger is due to gingerol. The flavoring compound has sharp burning sensory stimulation. Whole roots are used in curries, pickles, chutney etc. It is used to add that extra flavor in tea, lime juice, and buttermilk. It acts as an antioxidant agent and has potential prophylactic use in treating migraine headaches. The gingerol in ginger helps in preventing cough.
9.GARLIC – Garlic apart from imparting taste has many medicinal values as well. Be it Indian or continental, you can find garlic all kinds of cuisines. It keeps your digestive system healthy and acts as an antimicrobial agent. It also helps in lowering serum cholesterol.
10.CARAWAY – Caraway or ajwain has a beautiful aromatic smell. The essential oil present is a source of thymol. It is a wonderful remedy for indigestion and is loved because of its antispasmodic, stimulant and carminative effect.
Hope you enjoyed reading about the spices. We would love to hear more from you. If you have any queries please mention it in the comment box. We will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Also, if there is anything specific that you want us to write on, do let us know.
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-By Debanjana Bhattacharyya
The author is a postgraduate scholar in food and nutrition.
Carminative – It is any agent that prevents the gas formation, and helps in fighting flatulence.
Antiseptic – Septic means infection and antiseptic is an agent fighting the infection.
Anti-helminthic – drugs, agents used to fight parasitic worms.
Stimulant – to activate
Flavonoid – It is a compound that acts as an antioxidant.