The benefits of spices have been remarkable throughout history and are dominating the world today as well. Some of the spices are popular for their medicinal benefits, well before their culinary use.
The trade of spices started way back in history, approximately 7000 years ago. At present, it is one of the largest sources of income for many nations. As a result, spices are easily available in almost every part of the globe.
According to Product Complexity Index (PCI), Spice is the 639th product to be traded in the world. India, China, Netherlands, Germany, and Spain are its largest exporters, whereas The United States, Japan, The United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands are its largest importers.
Through this article, we will discuss the hidden and magical benefits of various spices from different origins and its negligible side effects.
The Power of Spices: An Overview
In the culinary world, spices are known as food enhancing ingredients to enhance the flavor of food that is derived from the fruit, flower, stem, or seed of a plant. These spices are used in every household daily to prepare amazing dishes.
It is really difficult to think of any cuisines without a pinch of spice in it. It not only enhances the flavor of a dish but also adds the color, texture, and aroma to it. Moreover, it has no side-effects, rather has a lot of benefits related to human health and beauty.
The power and benefits of spices are countless and unimaginable. It can work wonders whether added to a recipe or used for medicinal use.
The origin of spices across the world is a part of ancient history. The trade of spice started back in 500 BC through boats by the Chinese and Korean. And now, spices get traded to almost every part of the world.
[Also Read: Benefits of Yellow Pepper]
Here’s the list of numerous spices and their origin from different parts of the world:
1. Indian Spices:
Indian spices are not just popular for its culinary trait but also for healing various health problems. Following Indian spices are well-known for their flavor and aroma in Indian delicacies: Black pepper, fenugreek, cumin, turmeric, garam masala, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, paprika, nutmeg, ajwain, mint leaves, mustard seeds, saffron, cardamom, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, curry leaves and curry powder.
2. Mediterranean Spices:
Following are the most common spices used in the preparation of Mediterranean cuisine: Cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, bay leaves, oregano, allspice, and nutmeg.
3. Middle Eastern Spices:
Most of the Middle Eastern cuisines contain the following spices: Anise seeds, sumac, caraway, bahārāt, nutmeg, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, and allspice.
4. Other Spices:
These are some special spices that you can use in preparing different cuisines: Ginseng, Sichuan pepper, and chipotle.
Top 15 Health and Beauty Benefits of Spices
Since ancient times, the nutritional, health and beauty benefits of spices are well-known. Nutritionist and medicinal practitioners have been using various spices to cure health problems for centuries(1).
The Indian Ayurveda and Siddha system of medicine explain several medicinal properties of spices as them anti-inflammatory, anti-hypercholesterolemic, anti-thrombotic, anti-atherosclerotic, and so on. Most of the spices have several antioxidants and aid digestion.
According to an article published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition journal, various spices offer a lot of health benefits along with adding flavors to the dishes.
Below is a table that consists of the Antioxidant activity of common dried spices:
|Common Name||Botanical Name||Antioxidant Activity|
|Clove||Syzygium aromaticum||465.3 mmol/100 g|
|Oregano||Origanum vulgare||137.5 mmol/100 g|
|Cinnamon||Cinnamomum zeylanicum||98.4 mmol/100 g|
|Peppermint||Mentha piperita||78.5 mmol/100 g|
|Ginger||Zingiber officinale||22.5 mmol/100 g|
|Curry||Murraya koenigii L.||13.0mmol/100 g|
|Coriander||Coriandrum sativum L.||3.3 mmol/100 g|
|Garlic||Allium sativum L.||2.1 mmol/100 g|
Following are the top 15 exciting benefits of different spices that largely contribute to health and beauty:
Turmeric, commonly used in the preparation of every dish, acts as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-mutagenic. You can best use it to:
- Heal any wounds or cuts,
- Relieve arthritis,
- Enhance mental ability,
- Prevent cancer symptoms, and
- Moisturize skin by adding to milk and curd
This spice is extracted from a flower and has an intense yellow and orange color with a unique aroma and it is used to:
- Prepare dishes to enhance their color and essence,
- Improve dry skin,
- Relieve menstrual issues, and
- Handle asthma problems
According to Epidemiologic studies, there is an inverse relationship between consumption of garlic and the progression of cardiovascular disease. This spice helps to:
- Reduce hypertension and cholesterol level,
- Prevent heart diseases, and
- Increase LDL oxidation and platelet aggregation
From ancient times, it has been used to prepare Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines across the globe. It is a herbal plant that is commonly used to heal ailments such as:
- Muscle pain,
- Hypertension and so on.
It is mostly used to prepare Indian, Indonesian, Chinese and Malaysian delicacies. It is considered a rich source of Vitamin C and Linalool. These antioxidants guard the human body against cellular injury caused by toxins.
This spice is a part of every exotic dish and is been used since ancient times in cooking. Apart from this, it has an abundance of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to cure various health issues.
This spice is a combination of different flavors such as cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg. It helps to
- Improve digestion and circulation of blood, and
- Increase immunity
It possesses a lot of health benefits as it is rich in fiber, calcium, and protein. It helps to:
- Cure stomach problems,
- Improve digestion, and
- Provide relief from a toothache
9) Black Pepper:
It is known as the King of Spices. It has a strong flavor which you can use to:
- Cure a cold and cough,
- Boost metabolism,
- Improve skin issues, and
- Maintain body weight
It is a very popular spice in the Middle East. Apart from being a part of every Indian and Middle East dish, it acquires several health benefits. It helps to:
- Improve digestion and immunity, as well as
- Cure skin and respiratory problems
This spice is the main vein of fiber, minerals, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can consider it as an abundant source of antioxidants. It is a proven antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic. Moreover, you can use it to:
- Provide aromatherapy, and
- Relieve toothache and stomachache
It is one of the most popular and expensive spices in the world, commonly used in India, Indonesia, Nepal, and Bhutan. Cardamom contains iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin A, and C. It used to:
- Improve digestion,
- Condense diabetes,
- Cure asthma and depression problems,
- Prevent blood clotting, and
- Combat oral problems
This spice is full of fiber and is a powerhouse of antioxidants. It hails from Europe, India, China, Middle-East and Turkey. It helps to:
- Reduce the aging effects,
- Remove free radicals of the body,
- Fight against deteriorative diseases related to the nervous system
This spice is found in different regions of the globe and has several medicinal benefits. It helps to:
- Improve digestion,
- Reduce inflammation,
- Cure eating disorders, and
- Increase lactation in mothers
It is a popular spice and used worldwide for cooking purpose. Additionally, it’s a home remedy for many health issues and helps improve:
- Skin texture,
- Liver detoxification, and
- Bad breath
The above mentioned are the most popular and widely used spices all over the world. Other such spices have several benefits related to health and beauty.
You must include spices to promote your skin health, digestion, oral health, blood circulation, immunity, metabolism, weight loss, heart health, detoxification of the body, etc., apart from using it in the daily cooking regime.
[ Read: Benefits of Horse Gram ]
What are the various ways of using spices?
It is well-known that different types of spices are used to prepare multi-regional cuisines. However, you might not be aware of the fact that there are other incredible benefits of using spices. Let’s have a look at the uses:
- Acts as a Natural Skin Remedy: Different spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, mint, etc, help to enhance and moisturize skin naturally.
- Provides Aromatherapy: The aroma of various spices such as rosemary, cloves, mint, thyme, and cinnamon helps to relax your body.
- Acts as an Insect Repellents: Various spices are used to keep insects away from your home and kitchen. These spices can be cloves, sage, pepper powder, cinnamon, peppermint, and rosemary. You can sprinkle them on holes and cracks to prevent insects.
- Deodorizes the Surroundings: Spices have their own aroma which can be used to mask and defuse bad odor, or any type of unpleasant smell. To beat the bad odor, pack your favorite spice in a small bag and place it in a cool and dry area.
- Serves a Decorative Purpose: Various spices possess unique textures and bright colors. You can use it for home décor to create grain painting, distinctive artwork, or placing different colorful grains in separate jars.
[Also Read: Get Rid of Dry Skin Using Natural Remedies]
What are the possible side-effects of using spices?
The benefits of spices offset its side-effects. Therefore, we can say that the usage of spices has no side-effects. However, the consumption of particular spices may cause negative reaction or allergies on certain individuals. These reactions can be in the form of:
- Anaphylactic shock,
- Bronchial asthma,
- Contact dermatitis, or
Some spices may cause negative reactions with certain medicines leading to blood thinning and the creation of hemorrhoids.
Additionally, various spices may be harmful to intestines and stomach when consumed in an inappropriate amount.
For example, excess consumption of chili and garlic can cause a burning sensation in the stomach, cause acid reflux, gastritis, and tongue irritation.
Across the globe, there are more than 100 spices with innumerable advantages. Spices include a lot of minerals and vitamins, which are most vital for leading a healthier life.
Spices are a rich source of anti-oxidants and have diverse advantages. They control blood sugar level, provide dietary supplements, improve digestion, reinforce immunity, and reduce cholesterol. Apart from health benefits, spices also provide skin care.
Reconsider the benefits of spices as it not only enhances the taste and color of your food but also helps you to manage your well-being. Many people prefer to grow the spices at home, as every spice available at stores has a shelf life.