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Spicing up food for a healthier diet

You may have decided to lay off the sugar and salt in your food this year in a bid to follow that healthier diet, but it that doesn?t mean that your food has to end up tasting bland

india Updated: Jan 04, 2007 15:05 IST

You may have decided to lay off the sugar and salt in your food this year in a bid to follow that healthier diet, but it that doesn’t mean that your food has to end up tasting bland.

Suzanna Zick, N.D., M.P.H., a naturopathic physician and researcher at the University of Michigan Health System said that using more herbs and spices and fewer traditional seasonings like sugar, salt and fat, can not only help to improve the overall health benefits but also the flavour of the food we eat on a daily basis.

And if you follow the 10 tips that Zick gives, then rest assured that you will be serving up delicious yet healthy food this year.

These tips are:
1. Instead of salt, use herbs. Common herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley and garlic can really bring out the natural flavors in a meal. Salt can be replaced with a tasty combination of basil and oregano on food.

2. Use fresh garlic for maximum benefit. Garlic appears to help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

“For maximum benefit, you need to have about three medium cloves of garlic per day. Dry garlic or garlic left out too long, lose their healthy benefits,” said Zick.

3. Fight aging: Eat rosemary. Rosemary is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. It’s also thought to help with memory, and research is currently underway to determine rosemary’s potential cancer-prevention properties.

4. Basil, oregano and rosemary can help fight colds. Since these three herbs contain strong essential oils, they potentially can fight against colds and flu. In addition, all three are powerful antioxidants as well.

5. Treat chronic coughs with thyme.

“The health benefits of thyme are unique. It has been traditionally used to treat coughs, even whooping cough. Thyme is often drunk as a tea,” ZIck said.

6. As for that niggling back pain, well all you need to do is eat curry. Research has shown that the substance commonly found in turmeric – a common, bright red spice added to curry mixes – has known anti-inflammatory properties. The substance, curcumin, works in a very similar way to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

7. Fight cancer: Eat more curry. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, research on curcumin has also shown it to shrink pre-cancerous lesions known as colon polyps. The amount needed for its health benefits is unclear, she suggests including a generous helping of curry or turmeric in a meal.

8. Lower your blood pressure with “warming spices.” These include ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, cayenne pepper and others. These can make a person feel warm because they bring blood from the centre of the body to the skin. This disperses blood throughout the body more evenly, which may decrease blood pressure.

9. Soothe your aching tummy with ginger. Ginger contains gingerols, which decrease oxidative products in the digestive tract that cause nausea. The key is to eat real ginger and not things flavoured artificially like many ginger-ales, in order to reap the benefits.

10. Reduce the sugar, add the spice. If you need to cut back on sugar, Zick suggests adding spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to your sweet snacks instead of sugar. For instance, if you buy unsweetened applesauce, add cinnamon to give it an extra kick.

First Published: Jan 04, 2007 15:05 IST