Spice Up Your Life and Your Health!

By Marie Veselsky, MS, RD, LD, BC-ADM

Licensed Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator


Spices have been used for centuries, not only to give food flavor, but also for their health benefits.  Generally, the leaf of a plant used in cooking is referred to as an herb, and any other part of the plant, often dried, as a spice.  National nutrition guidelines stress the importance of consuming a wide variety of food.  Herbs and spices naturally fit within such programs. So maybe it is time to “Spice up Your Life and Your Health!”

Here are a few common spices and their health benefits:

  • Rosemary neutralizes free radicals in the body.  This may give it anti-cancer fighting abilities.  Add it to chicken dishes.
  • Cinnamon has been found to help lower blood glucose and may help prevent heart disease.  A 2003 study found that about half a teaspoon each day lowered blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  It is also useful for improving the circulation and has anti-inflammatory and blood thinning properties.  Try adding a teaspoon to your coffee.
  • Curry Powder has been found to safeguard your brain.  The yellow curry pigment, curcumin, may fight Alzheimer’s by thwarting the development of plaques in the brain.   Add curry powder to mayonnaise to dress up sandwiches and try some new Indian dishes made with curry.
  • Garlic may improve your heart’s health. Studies suggest that an intake of between half and one clove per day can lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels by an average of 10 percent.  One way to increase your garlic intake is to add minced garlic and chopped cucumber to plain yogurt for a light dip or salad dressing.
  • Chili Powder may help relieve achy joints.  Research shows that capsaicin, found in chili peppers, has an anti-inflammatory effect, which may ease arthritic swelling and pain. Add it to a batch of hot turkey chili.
  • Turmeric has been found to be anti-inflammatory and also is a slight blood thinner. Most disease states start with inflammation and Turmeric has been found to help with inflammation.

The safety of herbs (because they are a food) is very good, but if you take any medications, you should check with your doctor to make sure there are no potential food/drug interactions.  For an appointment with Marie call 603-770-4856 or 207-783-6800 in Maine.


It’s Your Health and Your Choice! ™