Enjoy the Spice of Life!

How Spices Can Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes and Chronic Disease

…‘Tis the season of cinnamon, ginger and cloves (usually laden with sugar, fat and flour). Wouldn’t it be nice to revel in those flavors without the empty calories? Well, here are some tasty facts and an easy chai recipe to get you started!

Spices have been our food and our medicine for thousands of years, but you may not aware of their medicinal properties.

Did you know that spices were so valuable that they were used as currency before there was money? Wars were fought for control of the spice trade, as only the wealthiest could afford peppercorns, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric…things we take for granted today.

Technically, a spice is a dried root, bark, seed, fruit or flower that has concentrated a set of phytochemicals to defend itself from predators: these aromatic compounds repel insects and fight infections, but we humans love them for their exciting flavor and healing benefits.

I was first introduced to the therapeutic properties of turmeric, ginger and cinnamon during my training in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Later as I studied Ayurvedic (or Traditional Indian) Medicine and traveled to India, I discovered even more about the medicinal value of these precious “flavor bombs”. They’ve been used for centuries to warm the body, fight infection, inflammation, heart disease and diabetes.

CINNAMON oil contains cinnamaldehyde, a phytochemical that potentiates the effect of insulin, helping to lower blood sugar and cholesterol. New research suggests that cinnamon helps fat cells burn fat for energy instead of retaining it. Multiple studies have confirmed the ability of cinnamon to fight heart disease, cancer and a range of chronic diseases.

GINGER is known for its ability to ease nausea in pregnancy and chemotherapy. New research is confirming that daily ginger consumption helps lower blood pressure and heart disease risk. Research also demonstrates that ginger fights breast cancer and a range of chronic diseases.

CLOVE oil has been used as a topical anesthetic to reduce the pain of “teething” in toddlers for millennia. Now, solid evidence suggests that clove mimics the action of insulin, helping to balance blood sugar and prevent diabetes. It is also a great repellent against mosquitos, inhibiting their bites for 2-4 hours …remember that next summer!

All three of these aromatic spices come together in the classic Indian Chai, similar to what is now available in many coffee shops around America. But, remember that most of those drinks have so much added sugar, that it’s questionable how much therapeutic benefit is left after managing the sugar and insulin surge!

Luckily, it turns out to be very easy to make chai at home in 15 minutes or less. So grab a saucepan and create your own low sugar version here

TIP: Purchase your spices at a natural foods store in the bulk section so you can buy just the quantity you need at a fraction of the price of a bottle. Once you know you love the spice, get it in small amounts so it is always fresh.

For more on the medicinal value of spices and herbs, pick up a copy of “Healing Spices” by the brilliant Indian researcher, Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD here: