Top 10 Spices and What They Do

Health Tips
Last Updated Jul 28, 2020
Health Tips

Unlike herbs that come from the leaves of plants, spices derive from the plant's roots, berries, seeds and bark. They add a kick of flavour as well as a host of health benefits to a meal thanks to their intense concentration of phytochemicals (plant chemicals), disease-preventing nutrients and other anti-microbial properties.


However not all spices were created equal, and they all offer different health benefits. Please read on to see how the top ten spices can benefit you.

1. Turmeric

A spice used traditionally in the Ayurvedic tradition, Turmeric:

  • Acts as a natural anti-inflammatory
  • Treats Skin conditions and pigmentation
  • Strengthens bones
  • Moisturizes the body
  • Repairs stretch marks and scar tissue
  • Stops diarrhea
  • Increases general immunity

Turmeric is also a very powerful antioxidant. It can help prevent diseases such as cancer and slow the aging process by combating the free radicals, which cause damage to healthy cells in the body.

2. Cinnamon

  • Have a direct, positive effect on blood sugar, imperative to those with diabetes
  • Be used to treat yeast infections resistant to common medications.
  • Reduce the proliferation of Leukemia and lymphoma cells.
  • Reduce pain associated with arthritis.
  • Act as a natural food preservative as it inhibits the growth of natural food bacteria.
  • Improve memory and cognitive function.

Cinnamon is also an excellent source of iron, calcium and manganese.

3. Fennel

  • Relieves indigestion, flatchulence, constipation and diarrhea.
  • Has a high Iron content which helps resolves anemia.
  • Relieves colic.
  • May clear congestion and therefore be useful to respiratory disorders such as smokers cough or bronchitis.
  • May be used to regulate menstruation by regulating hormonal activity in the body.
  • Protects eyes from inflammation, macular degeneration and general irritation.
  • May act as a diuretic helping the body eliminate toxic substances.

4. Chilli

Chili contains capsaicin, a naturally occurring substance that give it its heat. Capsaicin is now recognized to:

  • Treat osteoarthritis pain.
  • Psoriasis pain.
  • Reduce LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.
  • Reduce blood sugar levels.
  • Reduce platelet aggregation.
  • Increase the body's ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance required for blood clot formation.
  • Lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and pulmonary embolism.
  • Protect blood fats from damage by free radicals.
  • Clear congestion by stimulating the production of secretions used to clear mucous from the lungs, throat and nose.
  • Boosts overall general immunity.
  • Protect against some cancers including prostate cancer.
  • Assist in weight loss.
  • Lower the risk of Type II Diabetes.

5. Cloves

Cloves contain a significant amount of the active substance eugenol, which has been shown in many health studies to:

  • Protect against toxicity from environmental pollutants such as Carbon tetrachloride
  • Relive joint inflammation
  • Act as a natural anesthetic and anti-bacterial agent in dentistry work.

Cloves are also an excellent source of manganese, calcium, Vitamin C, fibre, Omega 3 fatty acid and magnesium.

6. Cumin

  • Provides a substantial amount of Iron that support energy metabolism, increases general immunity and protects against conditions such as anemia.
  • Aids digestion by stimulating pancreatic enzyme secretion that in turn assists in the breakdown of food.
  • Carries anti-carcinogenic properties that may protect from some cancers.

7. Cayenne Pepper

Like chili, Cayenne peppers healing qualities derive from the capsaicin it contains. Please see the benefits listed under Chili.

8. Ginger

  • Relieves gastrointestinal problems such as motion sickness, nausea, vomiting.
  • Relieves dizziness and cold sweats.
  • Natural anti-inflammatory.
  • Arthritis pain relief.
  • Osteoarthritis pain relief.
  • May protect against colorectal and Ovarian cancer.
  • Boosts immunity

9. Nutmeg

  • Relieves stomach cramps and aches.
  • Eliminates flatulence.
  • Encourages appetite.
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Stops diarrhea
  • Detoxifies the body, particularly the liver.
  • Enhances cognitive ability and stimulates dreams.
  • Relieves joint and muscle pain and swelling.
  • Helps respiratory conditions such as coughs and asthma.
  • Encourages good blood circulation.
  • Helps dissolve kidney stones as well as relieve kidney infections.

10. Mustard seeds

  • Are protective against some cancers such as colorectal and gastrointestinal tract cancer.
  • May reduce severity of asthma.
  • Relives symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • May lower blood pressure.
  • Encourages healthy sleep patterns.
  • Reduce frequency of migraine attacks.

Mustard seeds are also a very good source of Omega-3, Magnesium, Selenium, protein, niacin, zinc, calcium, iron and dietary fibre.

Originally published on Jun 16, 2010

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