Giving your spice rack a work-out is just as brilliant as eating fruit and veggies. Take oregano. Prized in Italian and Greek cuisine, these tasty little leaves boast 30 times more polyphenols than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges, and 4 times more than blueberries. You’d never munch a bunch of oregano that’s as big as a potato, but even a pinch packs a wallop. A tablespoon of fresh oregano’s got as much antioxidant power as a medium-sized apple!
Here’s the lowdown on herbs and spices that punch up the flavor of popular ethnic cuisine, along with ways you can use them to get healthier as you spice up whatever you’re cooking tonight.
Turmeric: The compound curcumin, found in yellow mustard (not so much in brown mustard, as that has real mustard seed.. but there’s true value in its less expensive yellow imitation). Turmeric and curry powder have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, and may offer protection from cancer, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. It is a premiere flavor in Indian cuisine and you can use it on veggies, sautéed chicken, or salad dressing.
Garlic: Munching a clove a day could help lower your cholesterol by as much as 9%. Garlic contains tons of tangy compounds that may help protect against cancers of the breast, stomach, colon, esophagus, and pancreas — and soothe high blood pressure a bit, too. Garlic’s a favorite from Scandinavia to Spain and China. Use it to spice up veggies, fish, and your next pan of brown rice. It seems to make everything taste better (you could even try it on fruit and all veggies).
Rosemary: A top seasoning in Mediterranean cooking (the French roast it with almonds, the Italians add it to herb mixes), rosemary’s antioxidant capabilities make it a must for 21st-century grill masters. Adding this herb to meat, fish, and veggie marinades before grilling reduces cancer-causing compounds, called heterocyclic amines, by up to 80%
Cinnamon: A compound in this tasty spice called hydroxychalcone makes receptors on cells work better, so your body absorbs blood sugar more easily. Getting ½ to 1 teaspoon a day, sprinkled on food, could lower blood sugar 10 points. It’s a favorite in German baked goods and Greek main dishes like hearty moussaka. Cinnamon is also delicious on oatmeal, in hot cocoa, and sprinkled on fresh fruit, like apples and bananas.
Ginger: This popular flavor in Thai cuisine may also cut your odds for inflammatory diseases like arthritis, as well as cancer and migraine headaches. You can also eat some if you’re prone to motion sickness or are nauseous, too. Try grated fresh ginger in salad dressings and shake powdered ginger into whole-grain muffins.
Here is this week’s 1-Page Health News:
Mental Attitude: What Is Dementia? Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s a term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the 2nd most common type of dementia. At least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia: memory, communication and language, ability to focus and pay attention, reasoning and judgment, and visual perception. Alzheimer’s Association
Diet: Tomatoes! Men who eat lots of tomatoes and tomato-based products may have a lower risk for stroke. Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene. Men who had the highest levels of lycopene in their blood (compared to their peers with the lowest levels) were 55% less likely to have a stroke and 59% less likely to have an ischemic stroke. Neurology, October 2012
Exercise: Move It! Even 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week (20 minutes 3 times a week for vigorous exercise, such as jogging) can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. You don’t have to exercise for 30 minutes straight; you can break it up into 10-minute increments. (Note- check out crossfit.com and crossfitendurance.com for daily workouts that are almost always under 30 minutes) American Council on Exercise, October 2012
Active Release Technique: How Important Is Motion? After soft tissue injuries to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia that result in motion restriction, a high incidence of osteoarthritis (degeneration) can be seen on x-ray within 5 years. (Note-This is why it’s so important to get ART work to improve joint mobility. Stiff backs become arthritic) American Journal of Medicine, 2001
Wellness/Prevention: Safety For Your Children. 37% of all children under 16 years old are incorrectly restrained in the car. 23% are so poorly restrained that a collision would have very serious consequences. With the correct use of safety equipment, fewer children will be injured and killed in traffic accidents. Safety errors are highest in children aged 4-7 years. The 5 most common mistakes are misplaced seat belts, twisted belts, loose straps, belt under the arm instead of over the shoulder, and young children (<135 cm or <4.5 feet) sitting in a seat without side support. (Note- While you’re at it, consider restraining your dog, too. We’ve seen many car accidents that cause a dog to go flying through the car, injuring both the dog and people in the car) Norwegian Institute of Public Health, October 2012
Quote: “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” ~ Ben Franklin