Health Benefits of Turmeric

The health benefits of turmeric have been known for thousands of years. Indeed, this pungent spice has long been used throughout Europe, Asia and Africa to treat maladies ranging from wounds to cancer. Turmeric may just be familiar to you as that bright-yellow spice that bestows an earthy, peppery flavor to your rice dishes or some of your favorite condiments, but the true benefits of turmeric lie in the good things it can do for your long-term health. Read on to learn about the health benefits of turmeric and why this aromatic spice can pep up more than a few dishes — can actually make you feel better and help you live longer, too! 

Longer life. Turmeric contains powerful antioxidant compounds, referred to as curcuminoids, that are known to “scavenge” free radicals (molecules that damage cells and can result in cell death). Antioxidants help promote good cellular health, which can reduce the spread of diseases and keep you healthier longer, thereby contributing to improved mental and physical well-being and longevity.

Treating uveitis (eye inflammation). One preliminary study suggested that the antioxidants contained in turmeric extract may improve the symptoms of uveitis, or inflammation around the area of the iris of the eye. 

Better digestion. Turmeric has long been used as a remedy for dyspepsia, or indigestion (the uncomfortable pain, gas or bloating that comes from digestive problems). Turmeric is thought to stimulate bile secretion from the gallbladder, which aids in the digestion of food, thereby reducing the symptoms of dyspepsia.  

Reduces inflammation and osteoarthritis. The curcumin in turmeric has proven anti-inflammatory properties, which can alleviate the pain and swelling associated with inflammation. One study demonstrated that patients who used turmeric, along with other popular herbs applied in Ayurvedic medicine, a type of traditional herbal treatment used in Indian medicine, showed a reduction in joint pain and swelling, two common symptoms linked to osteoarthritis.

Fights ulcerative colitis. Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties may help soothe the inflammation associated with diseases that affect the bowels, such as ulcerative colitis. One preliminary study indicated that patients who took curcumin (a main constituent of turmeric), showed improved remission in cases of ulcerative colitis.

Reduced cancer risk. As previously mentioned in this article, the phytonutrient curcumin, found in turmeric, promotes longevity by scavenging free radicals. Curcumin may also reduce cancer risk by preventing cells from mutating as a result of damage by free radicals. Cell mutation can lead to the spread of malignant tumors, or cancer. Antioxidants, such as those found in turmeric, have been proven to play a role in cancer risk reduction.

The health benefits of turmeric make this spice a must-have as both a flavorful addition to dishes and a powerful extract to help you live a healthier life. Consume no more than 3 turmeric (curcumin) powdered capsules per day, or use as a tincture of no more than 30 drops 4 times a day.  Turmeric makes it easy to add zest to your condiments and food while adding good health to your future!

 References for “Health Benefits of Turmeric:”

Photo credit: manabray

Originally posted 2014-01-08 12:56:52.

Health Benefits of Ginger

The health benefits of ginger may not be as well known to you as its spicy taste, which can pep up everything from salads to casseroles. This strong-flavored root has been used for thousands of years, and was once a popular remedy for everything from nausea to bronchitis. Ginger is still one of the most popular spices in use today, for both its food-boosting flavor and its amazing health-boosting side effects. Here are a few of the health benefits of ginger:

Ginger provides health benefits during pregnancy: Morning sickness, as any expecting mom knows, can strike any time of day and add misery to what should be a magical, joyous time. Research has shown that ingesting ginger can treat morning sickness, or the nausea and vomiting that can occur during a pregnant women’s first trimester. Consume 1g of ginger daily to alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness.

Ginger for an upset stomach: When it comes to treating nausea, ginger isn’t just for expecting moms! Studies indicate that children and adults can benefit from the nausea and upset stomach reducing effects of ginger. Consult with a physician before treating upset stomach in children under 2-years-old with ginger to ensure you administer the proper dosage. Adults may take 1g of ginger daily to alleviate upset stomach and nausea.

Ginger may provide relief for osteoarthritis: If you are suffering from pain and swelling caused by arthritis inflammation, ginger may provide some safe and natural relief. Research has shown that ginger’s anti-inflammatory compounds, called gingerols, can alleviate inflammation. Take 250 mg of ginger 4 times a day to treat osteoarthritis symptoms.

Ginger to relieve symptoms of  Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Irritable bowel syndrome, a condition that causes unusual contractions in your large intestine that can lead to diarrhea, constipation, pain and gassiness, has affected between 10 – 20 percent of the population at some point. Studies have shown that using ginger as a herbal supplement can treat the symptoms of IBS. Take 1g of ginger daily for IBS relief.

Health benefits of ginger for motion sickness: Some studies indicate that powdered ginger may help alleviate motion sickness, or a state of dizziness and nausea caused by a disruption of a person’s balance or equilibrium, often brought about by travel on a plane, boat or car. Do not exceed 4 g of powdered ginger daily to treat motion sickness.

Ginger for heart disease: Some preliminary studies suggest that ginger may help prevent blood from clotting and help lower cholesterol, both of which can reduce your risk of heart disease. Ask a doctor before taking ginger as a natural treatment for heart disease.

Health benefits of ginger for digestion: The next time you have that unpleasant abdominal discomfort after a large or spicy meal, just try some ginger. Studies have shown that ginger can be used to effectively treat the symptoms of indigestion and sooth your stomach. Take 1g of ginger daily to alleviate indigestion. 

Enjoy the health benefits of ginger by consuming this spicy root as an extract, in capsule form or as a tea. Consult your doctor before using ginger as a natural treatment for serious health conditions. You can also enjoy ginger in common foods and drinks like ginger ale, gingerbread, and just in time for the holiday season, gingerbread houses! A health-booster and amazing flavoring for sweets, soups, teas and many recipes, ginger is a beneficial, aromatic treat any time of year.

 Sources for “Health Benefits of Ginger:” 

Originally posted 2013-12-05 12:18:43.

Health Benefits of my Biggest Fear (a childhood Christmas story, plus a tasty holiday protein shake recipe)

cinnamon-powderedI fear two things: snakes and cinnamon. I can’t explain the root of my snake fear; for as long as I can remember I have been terrified of snakes. It must be the creepy, slithery, scaly nastiness. I know exactly where my fear of cinnamon comes from: a fateful “Cinnamon Challenge” on Christmas Eve in a quiet suburban Indiana home.

When I was 10 years-old my brother Aaron, who was 18 at the time, returned home for his first Christmas since leaving for college. I was excited to see my older brother, but anxious at the same time. I grew up constantly trying to prove myself – and with an eight year age difference that is no easy task. I was subject to a fair amount of bullying, but it only made me stronger.

Aaron took me into the kitchen and lowered his voice to a whisper, “You know, it’s impossible to eat a spoonful of cinnamon in under 10 seconds.” “Impossible?” I said, puffing up my chest and trying my hardest to lower my voice, “I bet I could do it.” After a five dollar bet and a hand shake I found myself staring down at a spoonful of cinnamon that was substantially bigger than what I had imagined.

Roughly 0.083 seconds into my Cinnamon Challenge I knew something was gravely wrong. I wanted to give up, but that would be giving into my big brother and there was no way I could do that. First, the cinnamon coated my entire mouth and throat, making it impossible to produce saliva. Second, instead of backing down like a pansy, I tried to forcefully swallow the roughly two tablespoons of cinnamon. It instantly clogged my throat, and the next thing I knew I couldn’t breathe.

My brother’s laughter soon turned to horror as I turned blue in front of him. My short life flashed before my eyes and I started getting light headed. Aaron’s yell beckoned my mother who whipped around the corner into the kitchen faster than Usain Bolt. She repeatedly slapped my back until I coughed up a giant cinnamon cloud and vomited (sorry for the graphic detail) in the middle of the kitchen.

Aaron got coal for Christmas; I tasted cinnamon for days and mom’s blood pressure finally went back to normal the following week. Following the incident, and for about the next 10 years, my entire body would seize every time I smelled cinnamon. I am now able to eat reasonable amounts cinnamon without having flashbacks. Good thing, because cinnamon has these amazing health benefits!

  • Cinnamon can be effective in helping you fight bacterial of fungal infections
  • Cinnamon has been shown to decrease blood sugar
  • Researchers at the University of Tel Aviv found that a chemical in cinnamon can help stave off Alzheimer’s disease
  • A study from Penn State showed that eating cinnamon can reduce your body’s negative response to eating high-fat meals (make sure to have it after turkey legs!)
  • Cinnamon, when taken regularly, can help reduce your LDL “bad cholesterol”
  • Cinnamon can slow the growth of cancer cells

Tasty Holiday Protein Shake

I normally don’t post recipes because I’m a trial-by-error cook. I never use recipes, thus I never remember the amounts of what I put in them. I stumbled across this amazing concoction that is sure to please. You will need:

  • Organic honey crisp apple
  • Organic almond and/or coconut milk (plain or vanilla)
  • Vanilla whey protein powder
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Minced or ground ginger
  • Ice

Directions: core and dice an entire apple, making sure to leave the skin on. Put the apple pieces in a blender, along with a handful of ice. Add 8-12 ounces of almond and/or coconut milk and a scoop of protein powder. Add spices to taste (I’m sure you will use more cinnamon than I did), and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Sources:

Photo by TheDeliciousLife

Originally posted 2013-11-13 12:28:47.

How 'bout cayenne pepper?

Cayenne peppersCayenne pepper is an extremely hot, yet tasty and versatile spice.  The bite comes from the active ingredient capsaicin.  With a beautiful crimson color and high heat, it is sure to add flare to any dish you are planning to cook.  But cayenne pepper is more than just a heat maker.  This spice has a plethora of uses that not even your orthodox medical practitioner can argue with.   

History of Cayenne Pepper            

Cayenne pepper has been used in Mexico, South America, and the West Indies for thousands of years.  Capsicum annuum is its botanical name.  When the pepper was discovered by the Spanish, it was eventually introduced into Africa, Asian, Indian, and European cuisines.  It has now become one of the most popular spices in the world.  It can grow in most any climate, but most loves the nutrient-rich soils of moist climates.  It has been used for its flavor, its medicinal purposes, and as decoration.

Considerations for Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is actually quite spicy.  It has a 7 out of 10 rating for spiciness, which means it is 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville Units.  To give you an idea of what that means, jalapeno, chipotle, and poblano peppers are only about 2,500 – 5,000 Scoville Units, serrano peppers are about 5,000 – 15,000 Scoville Units, and habanera peppers are roughly 100,000 – 350,000 Scoville Units.  That means cayenne peppers can really pack a punch.  The nice thing about cayenne pepper is that it usually comes in powdered form, providing the flexibility to make any dish as mild or as spicy as you want!

Home Remedies and Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper has been used for thousands of years as not just a spice but a medicine. 

~Stomach ailments~

The ancient peoples of Peru and Guatemala used cayenne pepper as a cure for many types of stomach ailments.   You would think because cayenne pepper is so spicy that it would cause heartburn.  For most people, however, cayenne pepper has the opposite effect. Modern research suggests that cayenne pepper not only reduces heartburn, but can help people who have ulcers.  I suppose the Mayans were on to something!

~Cardiovascular Health~

Capsaicin is a vasodilator, which means that it enlarges the space (the lumen) in the blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily.  Vasodilation promotes several physiological effects, including relief from headaches and pain, as well as improvement in overall vascular health.

~Cayenne Pepper for Pain and Inflammation~

Capsaicin, when applied topically, has shown very promising results in patients with neurological pain, such as phantom limb and HIV neuropathy.  The Capsaicin found in cayenne peppers also has strong anti-inflammatory effects.

~Cayenne Pepper for Weight Loss~

While eating cayenne pepper won’t magically turn you into a model, the heat it produces in your body does mean you are burning a few extra calories.

~Cayenne Pepper for Cough Suppressant~

Cough keeping you up all night?  Mix a dash of cayenne pepper with a tablespoon of honey and melt that in with your favorite tea or a glass of warm water.  Sip on that for a while and your cough should subside enough to help you get to sleep.  I tried this last January when I had a really bad cold accompanied by a horrible cough.  Sure enough, it worked!

~Cayenne Pepper as an All-Natural Pet Repellent~

Cat chewing on your house plants?  Dog getting in your garden?  Well, a little bit of cayenne pepper sprinkled in these areas is a great way to ensure your pet will not try again (unless, of course, you have a very stubborn animal).  Cayenne Pepper is non-toxic to both your pet and your plants.  Our cat used to chew on a piece of fraying carpet in our old apartment.  My husband put a little cayenne pepper in the area and, after a few sneezes, he never chew again!  Just be careful not to put tons of the spice in a very concentrated area because it could burn your pet’s paws of nose.  The trick is to just make it uncomfortable for them when they enter the restricted area.

Precautions when using Cayenne Pepper

While cayenne pepper has many fine qualities, you have to be careful with a few things.  First off, you want to be careful when handling this pepper, even in its powder form.  If you’re sprinkling it out of a bottle,  you have less to worry about, just don’t handle large amounts of it for an extended period of time without wearing some hand protection. Like most hot peppers, cayenne pepper can burn your skin.  You also have to be very careful not to rub cayenne pepper in your eyes after handling it.  While you won’t go blind you will be in a lot of pain, and there is little you can do about it (cayenne pepper is what they use to make pepper spray with).  Make sure you wash your hands (and under your fingernails) after handling it.  Also, you want to keep cayenne pepper away from intense, direct heat.  Heating peppers brings out more flavor, but heating them too much can create fumes that will make you cough uncontrollably.  Truth me, it’s really bad.  My husband and I learned the hard way.  Being aware of the fumes is especially important if you have asthma or other lung problems.  Lastly, what goes in spicy will come out spicy.  You have been warned!

Cayenne Pepper Nutrition Highlights (%DV = percent of daily value)

In 1 tbsp:

  • Calories 17
  • Vitamin A 44% DV
  • Vitamin C 6% DV
  • Iron 2% DV
  • Vitamin B-6 5%  DV
  • Magnesium 2% DV           

Cayenne Pepper In the Kitchen

  • Use these spicy peppers on sweet potato cubes sautéed in grass-fed butter.  The sweet and spicy combination gives way to a very savory dish.
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper on deviled eggs will certainly spice up any party.
  • Use cayenne pepper instead of black pepper to add variety to you usual cusine.
  • Add cayenne pepper to chili of soup to make it even hotter.
  • Mix in cayenne pepper with your chicken, tuna, or egg salad.
  • And, don’t forget to experiment! 

REFERENCES: Home cooking with Hot ChilisRed Pepper Encyclopedia; David M. Simpson, MD,  Stephen Brown, MD, Jeffrey Tobias, MD; Controlled trial of high-concentration capsaicin patch for treatment of painful HIV neuropath; Neurology June 10, 2008 vol. 70 no. 24 2305-2313; USDA

Originally posted 2013-09-24 12:30:45.