Happy New Year. One of my resolutions is to be healthier—not my usual “this is my year to get ripped” resolution, but a “I’m going to try really hard to not get sick” resolution. While doing a little research on my strategy, I kept coming across natural remedies and the medicinal benefits of certain common foods. I was happy to see I am ahead of the game because I have so many of them right on my spice rack. I will share just a couple of cool facts on the healthy benefits you can get from your spice rack. Let's look at garlic, cinnamon and ginger.
Garlic. Ever notice that vampires don’t die from cancer? That’s because garlic is a natural antiseptic and has antibacterial properties, which means it fights against cancer—especially stomach and colorectal. Garlic not only helps fight against cancer, but also lowers cholesterol, reduces plaque, lowers blood pressure, and lowers the risk of your arteries hardening. If you eat garlic everyday, you can lower your risk of heart disease by 75%.
It can also be effective in warding off digestive ailments, diarrhea and menstrual pain. Because of its intense antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, garlic can help with yeast infections, some sinus infections, and the common cold. It can even repel ticks.
How to use garlic: Buy yourself some fresh (raw) garlic cloves and eat one to two cloves each day! For the best results, chop it and let it sit for a bit before eating it raw. You can use it in food and get the similar benefits, but try adding at the end of the cooking process so that it retains its awesome healthy properties. Don't have fresh garlic on hand? No worries because the garlic on your spice rack will also yield mighty benefits.
Cinnamon. Word on the street is that cinnamon is one of the most powerful healing spices and has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes in addition to being delish. It is the brown bark of the cinnamon tree and its magic powers come from its essential oils.
Among cinnamon’s claims to fame are that it assists with metabolism; helps lower bad cholesterol; prevents blood clots; and fights off any fungi, bacteria, and viruses lurking in your food, which means it can combat E.coli, Salmonella, and Staph infections.
Cinnamon also helps lower blood pressure, helps regulate menstrual cycles, and is proven to reduce anxiety and stress. It is widely believed to be a hero in helping control diabetes by improving blood sugar control, and studies show that just 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon a day can cut triglycerides and total cholesterol levels by up to 30%.
Cinnamon helps manage the symptoms of both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It also boosts circulation to the joints, which is helpful when you are dealing with inflammation such as arthritis, or weird circulation problems like Reynaud’s.
This pic is not my hand (my fingers were too numb to take a dang photo for this post), but Reynaud's is a weird pain that I cannot stand. I am totally putting cinnamon into my coffee everyday starting now!
How to use cinnamon: Grab your ground cinnamon from the spice rack everyday. Simply add a couple of teaspoons to your diet a few times a week and you will get the benefits. Sprinkle it on toast, add it to beans, use it in curies, or drink it in your coffee, tea or warm milk. You want to do a little research on the kinds of cinnamon available, and also be sure not to overindulge because it can have some adverse effects.
Ginger. I have such fond memories of drinking ginger ale at my Grandmas and Grandpa’s place in the Bronx as a kid. It was a real treat and is a comforting memory. Now, my kids make up ailments a few times a week and head to the amazing nurses at their elementary school.
Weird, right? Well, I found out that every time they show up, the nice nurses give them a cup of ginger ale to soothe their (fake) aches and (fake) pains. Fake or not, the point is that the nurses know the amazing medicinal benefits of the ginger in that ale!
Ginger's just plain good for the tummy. I had ginger candies when I was pregnant because it eases the nausea from morning sickness. It works in the digestive tract to boost digestive juices and neutralize acids as well as reduce intestinal contractions.
It can combat motion sickness, too. The trick is to take it before you think you may become nauseated. Additionally, ginger can promote sweating, which is a good thing because sweat fights germs when you are sick. Who knew?
Ginger also combats inflammation. Several studies have found that ginger (and turmeric) reduces pain and swelling in people with arthritis and muscle pain. It may work against migraines by blocking certain inflammatory substances. And because it reduces inflammation, it may also play a role in preventing and slowing the growth of cancer, particularly ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer.
How to use ginger: Purchase fresh ginger root in your produce section. Peel it and use a couple of ½-inch slices a day. Grate it into recipes, boil it in your tea, or use it in your marinades and dressings. Again, the ground ginger on your spice rack is a good alternative to fresh if you're out.
So now go out and get yourself some garlic, cinnamon and ginger to improve your health. Maybe it’s a good time to revamp your spice rack, too. Check out the drawer organizers, counter top, over-the-door, and mounted options.
By Bridget Gorman Wendling
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