We already know fresh spices can turn any bland meal into a culinary masterpiece. But what you might not realize is many of the seasonings you use to cook or bake also contain essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
So, whether you need a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to turn up the heat or a tablespoon of garlic for an intense earthy flavor, you can feel good knowing you're getting a powerful blend of unique tastes and health benefits with every sprinkle of seasoning.
Top 5 Spices that Contain Vitamins & Minerals
To keep your pantry stocked with the best spices, let's review a few popular seasonings that you may already have:
Warm, sweet, and spicy, cinnamon has enjoyed popularity since 2,000 BC. Back then ancient civilizations used it for anointing and treating ailments. This practice was likely due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon is also linked to improved memory and focus, while some studies even report that this popular spice may help lower blood sugar.
It's impossible to talk about nutritious spices without putting turmeric near the top of the list. Turmeric comes from the root of the curcumin longa plant, which is part of the ginger family. Its main active ingredient, curcumin, which gives it a yellowish color, is renowned for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
As with cinnamon and turmeric, garlic has a long history of culinary and medicinal uses. This popular seasoning is reported to help fight colds and support heart health. Selenium, a key mineral that promotes healthy bodily functions and plays a critical role in metabolism balance, is also found in garlic
Both intense in flavor and nutrition, this type of chili pepper can be served whole or ground up—because a little does go a long way. Cayenne pepper is known for more than its heat, however. Thanks to capsaicin, an active compound of the chili pepper family, cayenne contains both antioxidant and pain-relieving properties.
It may also help improve digestion and heart health.
Okay, so cocoa isn't "technically" a spice, but there's no question people are using this popular seasoning to enhance their favorite recipes. Polyphenols and flavonoids are also found in unsweetened cocoa powder––both are compounds that offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps improve blood circulation and is a source of protein and fiber!
Are seasonings bad for you?
As with every ingredient you eat, serving sizes are important! Many spices and seasonings contain beneficial nutrients, but certain blends may contain high amounts of sodium. For instance, you may notice ground garlic and garlic salt on a store shelf. Ground garlic has been dried and ground into a powdery substance, making it easier to add to recipes and store in pantries. Garlic salt has undergone a similar process, but with the addition of salt.
Though you may still get the nutrients from garlic, you're now also getting more salt. Therefore, make sure you're measuring how much seasoning you're adding into each recipe, and when possible, try to stick to single spices vs. blends that contain extra ingredients.
Wondering What to Make with Those Rich Spices?
Put your spices to work with some culinary inspiration. Hop over to our recipes for delicious meal ideas perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!
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