It turns out that a pinch of basil or a dash of curry powder not only cranks up the flavor in a dish, but also delivers great health benefits as well. In fact, herbs and spices have more disease-fighting antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables. Can you believe that just one teaspoon of cinnamon has the disease fighting antioxidant power of a full cup of pomegranate juice or a half cup of blueberries? Consider the good that some of our favorite spices do for our overall health:
- Rosemary: Stops gene mutations that could lead to cancer and may help prevent damage to the blood vessels that raise heart attack risk.
- Cumin: Is exceptionally rich in iron, making it a great natural supplement for blood health and an antidote for anemia. Has also been found to slow the growth of breast and colon cancer cells.
- Basil: Offers excellent anti-inflammatory effects and can protect the body against damage from free radicals, thereby preventing cellular aging, common skin ailments, and even most forms of cancer.
- Paprika: Contains capsaicin, whose anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects may lower the risk of cancer (also found in cayenne and red chili peppers).
- Oregano: Works in the intestinal tract to kill unfriendly bacteria without damage to the friendly bacteria.
J. Scott Smith, a Kansas State University food chemistry professor, recently investigated six spices – cumin, coriander seeds, galangal, fingerroot, rosemary and tumeric – and found that the latter three had the highest levels of antioxidant activity, with rosemary found to be the most effective.
One of the best ways that spices can contribute to the enjoyment of a healthy diet is by taking the place of other seasonings that are high in fat, sugar or salt. A touch of garlic or a hint of fresh dill make it much easier for a calorie conscious cook to make a flavorful and satisfying dish, eliminating the need for common taste-boosting ingredients that are high in fat. Herbs and spices are classified as calorie-free and salt-free.
Arizonians are fortunate to have local farmers who grow the finest herbs and spices. Crooked Carrot Farm, is one such grower. Their family owned and operated farm in Queen Creek growing a variety of fresh picked sustainably grown produce that they sell right from the farm.
Go to www.fillyourplate.org and use the “Recipes” tab to find a recipe using your favorite spice. Also, use this site to find local growers in your area.
Arizona Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving and improving the Agriculture industry through member involvement in education, political activities, programs and services.
For more information contact Julie Murphree at (480) 635-3607 or go to http://www.azfb.org.