Christmas spices: health and wellbeing benefits

Libby Limon BSc NT mBANT / Dec 12, 2016

As a nutritionist and foodie I love, love, love spices. They are exotic gems that bring depth, flavour and aroma to dishes. On top of this many of them have health benefits, both for managing symptoms, fighting infection and helping optimal function of the body. Here are some of my favourite Christmas spices and how they can help your wellbeing…

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Cinnamon 

Hands down my favourite spice, so versatile in so many dishes, including warming, (sugar-free) sweetness to desserts and beverages, to its use in middle eastern savoury dishes.  Switch out your morning coffee for a matcha cinnamon almond milk latte, so delicious.

It has many health benefits; it's anti-bacterial, it improves circulation, it has calmative effects and acts as a digestant. It is also used for protecting against diabetes and supporting blood sugar imbalances as it can reduce insulin resistance and fasting glucose as it is thought to mimic insulin. It will also, therefore, help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels too.

Nutmeg

This is great for adding depth to sauces, both Asian and European, as well as a key ingredient in Christmas favourites mulled wine, cider and eggnog. Nutmeg contains high concentrations of the active compound myristicin, which is incredibly protective for the liver. Equally, it is highly antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, so could help protect against winter infections.

Cloves

They contain the active compound eugenon, which is a mild anaesthetic and has antibacterial qualities. It is used medicinally to relieve toothache and is often an ingredient in natural, fluoride-free toothpaste.

Ginger

Another well-loved, well-used spice in my house. I add fresh ginger to all of my smoothies and juices as well as using it in curries, stir fries, and baking. It is a potent anti-inflammatory, good for joint pain, it aids digestion, is anti-sickness and recommended for both travel sickness, morning sickness (and Christmas hangovers!).