South Asian cuisine prides itself on being flavourful, healthy and full of spices that are sheer culinary delights. Not only do these healthy herbs and spices add taste to the food, but they are also great for the health. In fact, dietitian Monica Auslander often tells her clients to add herbs and spices to make the food tastier as well as healthier. Read on to know more about 5 healthy herbs from our kitchen.
No great chai is complete without cardamom. Cardamom is a spice with a slightly sweet and yet intense flavour that is used in just about every continental food. It is a spice that is used both in sweet as well as savoury recipes.
Not only does it taste great, but it is also full of health benefits that are backed by science. Cardamom is great for people with hypertension, as proven by a study in which hypertensive patients were given three grams of cardamom powder a day. The results of the study showed that blood pressure was significantly reduced in most subjects in just twelve weeks of use.
Moreover, cardamom may also have anti-cancer properties. In animal studies, it was seen that cardamom increases certain enzymes that can fight and prevent cancer. Similar results were seen in human studies whereby certain compounds in cardamom stopped cancer cells from dividing. One reason that cardamom is useful against cancer could be its anti-inflammatory properties. Cardamom dampened the effect of four different inflammatory mediators in animal studies and could have similar mechanism of action in humans.
Coriander is found not only in continental dishes but in other cuisines like Middle Eastern and Asian meals, as well. Coriander has proven helpful in reducing the blood sugar levels and decreasing the risk for type 2 diabetes. It does so by promoting the action of certain enzymes that remove the sugar from the blood. Even a single dose of coriander seeds is enough to bring down the blood sugar level if given at about 20mg/kg body weight.
Additionally, coriander is a great source of antioxidants that fight inflammation in the body. The compounds in coriander also have neuroprotective and immune-boosting properties. Coriander also does a great job of improving heart health, fighting hypertension and decreasing LDL (bad cholesterol).
This spice is one of the healthiest spices in the world. It is laden with nutrients and bioactive compounds that are healthy for the brain and the body. Ginger hails from the family of turmeric and cardamom and has been used for long in traditional and alternative medicine. It helps to fight indigestion, nausea, common cold and flu.
Ginger has a particularly strong smell, that comes from its natural oils, of which, gingerol is one. Gingerol is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant that is responsible for much of the medicinal properties of ginger.
As mentioned before, ginger is useful in fighting off nausea. Ginger has been known to fight off seasickness and the associated nausea, chemotherapy-induced nausea, post-surgery nausea and most importantly pregnancy-induced nausea. Ginger is most effective against morning sickness; a systematic review with over 1270 pregnant subjects showed that intake of ginger significantly reduced the episodes of morning sickness.
Carom seeds (ajwain)
Carom seeds are quite common in our cuisine. Carom seeds are exceptionally nutritious and are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Not only are carom seeds used in food, but they are also used in traditional Indian medicinal practices. Carom seeds have powerful bug fighting properties and are used as antifungal and antibacterial agents. Even potent bacteria like E.Coli and salmonella can be fought off through carom seeds.
Carom seeds have shown to positively affect cholesterol levels; they reduce the levels of total cholesterol, harmful cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels. Carom seeds also improve digestion and fight off persistent pain and discomfort in the upper part of the stomach.
Fennel seeds (sonf)
Fennel seeds are thought to work by relaxing the colonic muscles and decreasing the secretions of the respiratory tract. Due to its effect on the gastrointestinal tract, it has shown to relieve colic in infants 2 to 12 weeks old. In older infants as well, colic can be relieved by intake of fennel containing tea, combined with chamomile and liquorice.
Other uses of fennel seeds include reduction of painful period cramps (dysmenorrhea) if fennel extract is taken at the beginning of the period. Using fennel cream has also been shown to reduce excessive hair growth on women.
Fennels seeds can also help with respiratory illnesses like bronchitis, airway swelling and upper respiratory tract infection.
Liquorice root has been used for ages as a sweetener in candies and beverages. Additionally, it has been used for centuries for its medicinal purposes, for diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract as well as the adrenals.
Liquorice can help fight heartburn, by suppressing the toxic bacteria H. Pylori, and producing more healthy protective mucus. Moreover, liquorice stimulates a healthy level of the stress hormone—cortisol in the body through the stimulation of the adrenal glands.
A healthy diet makes a healthy body and mind; incorporate healthy herbs and spices in our diet and feel the difference they bring to your life.
Opt for a varied and nutritious menu for yourself and your family to ensure proper health; book an appointment with top nutritionists in Karachi through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.