Be Better Goal: Spices


No, we’re not going to suggest that you avoid those holiday treats you’ve been looking forward to – mulled wine and cider, Christmas ham, Christmas cakes and cookies, eggnog, gingerbread, pumpkin or mincemeat pie – and yes, the list goes on.

Of course, indulging in those calorie-laden treats can add to your waistline – but the spices that flavor those dishes also provide a multitude of health benefits. This week pay attention to the spices that make these holiday treats so special. This week cook and bake with spices and become knowledgeable to the positive benefits of each one  For example:

Cinnamon: used in mulls and mince pies

Research indicates that cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels – a benefit for Type 2 diabetes. It also helps digestion, contributes to bone health, and acts as an antimicrobial and anti-ulcerative agent. Research indicates that it lowers cholesterol, as well.

Cloves: used in pumpkin pie and mulled cider or to dress a ham

Cloves have long been known for their painkilling properties, especially for toothaches. They also help relieve indigestion, bloating, and respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and asthma. The key is eugenol, an oily compound contained in the buds. A powerful antioxidant, eugenol has antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties. There is also some indication that it can increase mental focus and creativity.

Ginger: used in ginger cookies, gingerbread and pumpkin pies

Ginger is best-known as a digestive aid. It is also an anti-inflammatory and may protect against ovarian and colorectal cancers. A natural blood thinner, it can also assist your circulation.

Nutmeg: used in eggnog and cider, and in holiday cookies and cakes

Like ginger, nutmeg is primarily a digestive aid. It is also a natural painkiller. The Chinese have long used the spice to treat inflammation, abdominal pain and aching joints.

While we don’t know how these spices became associated with holiday foods, it’s reasonable to assume that they are associated with the season precisely because they relieve the symptoms of overeating and indigestion, and common illnesses – cold and flu -- that go hand-in-hand with wintertime.

For additional detail, visit Health Benefits of Christmas Spices