What do gingerbread cookies, spiced lattes and cinnamon rolls all have in common? Aside from being popular treats during the holidays, they all contain warming and comforting flavours - all thanks to a variety of popular spices from around the word. Often overlooked as just flavour enhancements, there are more reasons to add these spices to your next favourite recipe. Here’s a look at some of the health benefits of this seasons’ most popular spices:
Known for its sweet yet spicy taste, cinnamon is a staple ingredient in many cuisines around the world. In addition to its flavours, it has also been historically used to help aid digestion concerns such as indigestion and nausea. However, research has shown that cinnamon is also helpful in regulating blood sugar levels by reducing insulin spikes and the risk of insulin resistance, a condition that has been linked to diabetes and heart disease.
Tip: Adding a pinch of cinnamon to your morning coffee. It may help reduce the chances of that mid-morning crash due to an insulin spike.
A flavour that cannot be mistaken for anything else, ginger has been widely used in Asian cuisine for flavour and has also been historically known for helping to treat stomach upsets, stimulating digestion and reducing nausea. As powerful and potent as its taste, it’s also been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties which may be helpful for those suffering inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis. Ginger has also been shown to have analgesic and antibiotic effects making it effective in reducing the severity of the cold and flu.
Tip: Feeling like a cold is coming on or have an upset stomach? Grate some fresh ginger into a hot mug of lemon water. This will help soothe your stomach or your sore throat.
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Nutmeg is a rich and aromatic spice that is most popular over the holidays in both baking, beverages and for food, but it contains a wide range of health benefits. Another spice known for its digestive health benefits, it’s also been shown to be a relaxant to help promote sleep. Nutmeg has also been shown to contain heart-friendly nutrients such as magnesium and potassium and other nutrients such as vitamin B6, folate and dietary fibre.
Tip: It’s important to note that you should always consume nutmeg in small amounts. Taking too much nutmeg can cause nausea.
Known as a popular holiday scent and flavour in many seasonal beverages, peppermint is widely used after meals to aid digestion or as a natural remedy to soothe digestive upsets. As an essential oil, peppermint is used in a diffusor to help promote calmness and relaxation during periods of stress or when suffering a headache.
Tip: Steep fresh peppermint leaves in a pitcher of water to give your water a breath-freshening and delicious flavour.
Ready to give some of these delicious spices a try? Why not start with this twist on a favourite holiday latte? Let us know what you think in the comments below - or share with us on Facebook!
Homemade version of a classic holiday latte
For one gingerbread latte:
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp coffee/espresso
1 cup milk
Mix in a saucepan over the stove until hot. Pour into your favourite mug and enjoy!