Feeling Guilty About Your Holiday Diet Splurges? Spice Them Up

December 24, 2014

The aroma of spices reminds us of happy holiday memories, but they also pack a huge nutritional punch. Here are a few popular holiday spices and their benefits… so you don’t have to feel too bad about your holiday indulgences.

The aroma of spices reminds us of happy holiday memories, but they also add health benefits and of course flavor. Here are a few popular holiday spices and their benefits. So you don’t have to feel too bad about your holiday diet splurges.

Cinnamon has been used as a botanical medicine for over 4,000 years. The spice is obtained from the inner bark of several varieties of a tropical evergreen tree (genus, Cinnamomum). Many of its healing and health promoting properties are attributed to its essential oils and phytonutrients, but it is also rich in calcium, fiber and manganese. The various health applications and anecdotal applications are broad, and range from boosting cognitive function and memory, treating rheumatism, helping with digestion and relieving certain menstrual disorders, regulating blood sugar, as well as inhibiting bacterial growth; making it an effective natural food preservative.

Ginger is not just great in stir-fries; it exhibits antioxidant effects and the ability to lessen the formation of inflammation in the brain. Gingerol is the compound responsible for ginger’s many benefits including the ability to significantly help with nausea, vomiting, and morning sickness. It is a powerful antioxidant and is thought to relax blood vessels, stimulate blood flow and relieve pain. Ginger is also thought to aid in the protection against certain cancers. In cooking, ginger pairs well with soy sauce, citrus, chile peppers and garlic.

Parsley is not just a condiment, but rich in nutrition. Parsley contains high amounts of vitamin K, C, folate, iron as well as calcium, magnesium and potassium. Parsley also contains apigenin, known to boost resistance to developing cancerous tumors. Myristicin, a volatile oil found in parsley, is also chemoprotective. Not sure how to use it? Parsley pairs well with lemon zest, mint, garlic, capers, fish, beef.

Sage does more than just season the holiday dinner. In fact, sage is thought to be a great brain food. A British research team looked into sage’s therapeutic properties and memory and found that those who consumed sage oil performed significantly better at memory tests than the placebo. The sage group also demonstrated improvements in both immediate and delayed word recall scores and reported improved mood. Sage is delicious paired with squashes, parsley, rosemary, thyme, walnuts and more. 

Rosemary, the pine-like herb, offers anti-inflammatory protection for the brain and is thought to improve concentration. In winter, a rosemary bush inside the house acts as a natural air freshener and “cleaner” along with being convenient for cooking. Rosemary halts gene mutations that could lead to cancer and may help prevent damage to our circulatory system thereby reducing risk for cardiovascular complications. Rosemary pairs well with potatoes; citrus; honey; garlic; onions; chili peppers

Adding spice means adding a wealth of health benefits and flavor. Happy Holidays!

For More info: McCormick