By: Megan Kempston, Caring.com staff writer <||> Have you checked your spice rack lately? Spices and herbs can do a lot more than add pizzazz to your cooking — they can also promote heart health, fight cancer, reduce inflammation, and more. Here are nine super spices and herbs that are good for you and taste good, too.
Cinnamon is a nutritional powerhouse, with antioxidant properties that keep cells safe from oxidative stress and dangerous free radicals. Antioxidants help fight such diseases as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and Parkinson’s.
What’s more, cinnamon is a powerful weapon against cardiovascular problems. Cinnamon helps the hormone insulin work better, which reduces blood sugar levels. That’s great news for the one in ten North Americans with type 2 diabetes and the millions more with prediabetes. Keeping blood sugar low can help treat diabetes or even stop it before it starts.
Cinnamon may also help prevent Alzheimer’s. A study in 2011 found that an extract from cinnamon bark inhibited the formation of amyloid plaques in mice with Alzheimer’s. It even helped restore cognitive levels and correct movement problems in the animals.
How much: Cinnamon’s health benefits make it worth adding to your daily diet — and cinnamon’s sweet, warming flavor makes it easy. Aim for a quarter to half a teaspoon most days of the week.
Serving suggestions: Sprinkle a little on fresh fruit, a steaming bowl of oatmeal, or a scoop of peanut butter, or add to fish, chicken, or lamb dishes — especially with cumin and chili powder — for a Middle Eastern slant on your normal fare. No time to cook? Sprinkle some cinnamon on your morning coffee or tea for a nice antioxidant boost.
Tip: You know that stuff in your cinnamon jar? It’s probably cassia, not cinnamon. True cinnamon, often labeled “Ceylon cinnamon,” has higher levels of antioxidants, so seek it out if you can.
If you associate “sage” with wisdom, you’re not far off — the spice has been shown to help with memory and mood. A study in 2005 gave essential sage oil to healthy young volunteers and found that participants tended to remember things better and feel both more alert and calmer after taking sage.
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