Spice Up Your Health for the Holidays

December 22, 2020

Explore some of these powerful spices that not only make those holiday dishes special, but also can do everything from support heart health to improve your mood.  

As we begin winter, the season where we are most likely to experience colds and the flu, this year is not like any other. We've spent the majority of 2020 in some form of isolation from our regular lives, COVID-19 vaccinactions have begun, and there are predictions for more surges in the illness following the holidays. Now is not the time to let your guard down, and if there's one thing studies have taught us, food is one of our most accessible defenses against illness. And maybe you've been experimenting this year more with cooking, so why not explore some of these powerful spices that not only make those holiday dishes special, but also can do everything from support heart health to improve your mood. Here are some of the top benefits we have chosen to highlight for these holiday spices. Click through the slideshow for inspiration on how to incorporate these spices into your foods. 

Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants. In fact, in some studies, cinnamon has shown to have more powerful properties than even garlic or oregano. In addition, this spice has anti-inflammatory properties helping the body fight infections and repair tissue damage. And this spice has also been proven to reduce blood pressure and cut heart disease risk. Some additional studies have shown, cinnamon can protect against certain types of cancer and also can fight bacterial and fungal infections and can protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. 

Besides being high in antioxidants and protecting against cancer, cloves can also improve liver health, regulate blood sugar, promote bone health and reduce stomach ulcers. You can use cloves in soups. sauces, stews and is commonly paired with nutmeg and cinnamon and found in holiday desserts like gingerbread, pumpkin pie or eggnog. They are very strong, so remember to use sparingly and remove before consuming a dish. 

Up next, nutmeg boasts some of the same benefits as cinnamon and cloves, containing powerful antioxidants and anti-imflammatory properties. In addition, nutmeg is good for the heart, blood sugar control, can soothe pain, boosts skin health, can aid with oral conditions, treat insomnia, and can help boost mood. 

Ginger is also one of our star holiday spices! Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, and is responsible for much of ginger’s medicinal properties. Studies have show gineger can treat many forms of nausea, especially morning sickness, aid in weight loss, treat chronic indigestion, help with osteoarthritis, improve brain function, drastically lower blood sugars and improve heart disease risk factors, lower cholesterol levels and contains a substance that may help prevent cancer.

Cardamom is a spice that is often compared to mint, and also has an impressive list of health benefits backed by science. In addtion to containg antioxidants and protecting against chronic diseases, this spice can improve breathing, help with anxiety, treat cavities and other oral conditions, and has been shown to have compounds that may help prevent cancer. Cardamom pairs well with poultry, red meat, lentils, oranges, rice and other warm spices, like nutmeg and cinnamon