Cumin, curcumin and cardamom, oh my!

Cumin, curcumin and cardamom, oh my!

Spice things up while improving your health

Spice things up while improving your health.

They add flavor, improve taste and enhance the color of your food. With the right spice you can take your meal from bland to delicious.

And while salt and pepper can add something to your meals, if that’s all you use to season your food, you’re missing out on all the wonderful flavours of spices and herbs.

Spices are made from the bark, roots, berries, or seeds of plants, while herbs come from the plant leaves.

Used primarily to add flavor, spices and herbs are rich in plant compounds that prevent disease, reduce damage caused by free radicals and fight inflammation.

In addition, by using spices and herbs to season food, you’ll cut back on added sodium, sugars and unhealthy fats in your diet.

Though some spices and herbs are available in supplement form, you’ll get more health benefits by eating them fresh or dried with food.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with spices. With a little practice, you’ll be amazed at the way they improve the taste and health of your food.

Don’t believe it? See for yourself. Here are six popular spices that start with the letter ‘C’.


It’s sweet, while being sugar-free and low in calories. Cinnamon can be added to all sorts of dishes, drinks, and baked goods.

High in antioxidants and a plant compound called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamon has shown itself to be a powerhouse when it comes to fighting inflammation, lowering cholesterol, and reducing triglycerides. Shown to lower blood sugar, slow the breakdown of carbs and improve sensitivity to insulin, cinnamon is a great addition for the diabetic diet.


A yummy, sweet spice often used in the fall and winter along with pumpkin flavoring, cardamom contains plant compounds that may kill bacteria, support the immune system and reduce inflammation. People use cardamom to treat various digestive issues such as nausea, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal spasms, constipation, gas and diarrhea. It’s also used to help relieve colds, coughs, headaches and high blood pressure.


Cumin and curcumin sound similar, but they are two different spices used to flavor curry in many Indian, South American, and Middle Eastern dishes. Rich in iron, cumin has been used for centuries as a remedy for indigestion, jaundice and toothaches. Some people have found a teaspoon of cumin each day promotes weight loss.


It’s in the spice turmeric, and it’s what makes curry so yellow.

Curcumin is a powerhouse spice that’s rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation, relieve pain, treat liver problems, improve digestive health, ease arthritis and prevent heart attacks. A diet that includes curcumin will help ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s. Studies show curcumin may hinder the growth of breast, colon and stomach cancer cells.


You’ll find capsaicin in cayenne pepper, a spicy seasoning. Anyone trying to lose weight may be interested to know the ways capsaicin could help.

This spice has the ability to reduce appetite and boost metabolism. Because of these qualities, capsaicin is often found in weight loss supplements. It has a greater weight-loss effect for people who don’t normally eat spicy foods. Capsaicin may also fight cancer, keep blood vessels healthy, reduce pain and lower blood pressure.


Yes, it’s found in chocolate, and yes, it’s good for you.

Chocolates with a high percentage of cocoa and which are low in sugar may be good for your heart. Cocoa is rich in antioxidants that lower high blood pressure, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, improve the health of blood vessels and help prevent diabetes.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and the owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.