Spicy food can be just the thing as the weather warms up but there’s another great reason to try something new and exotic. From soothing joint pain to easing indigestion, we look at the surprising health benefits thought to be behind some of our favourite spices.
They are the secret behind some of our most popular ready meals, from curries and Mediterranean classics to warming desserts. But far from simply adding mouth-watering flavours, these small yet powerful seasonings are believed to be good for us, too.
Here’s a sprinkling of some of the world’s favourite herbs and spices, and the benefits they’re believed to have to our health:
This colourful, golden yellow component of most of our favourite curries – including Chicken Tikka Masala – has anti-inflammatory properties, and can be used to help relieve painful arthritis symptoms.
Chillies are so popular in the cuisines of hot countries because, by making you sweat, they help you cool down. All chillies, from mild paprika up to spicy scotch bonnets, also contain a natural chemical that helps your stomach cells fight off bacteria.
Why not try: Chilli con Carne.
This fiery root has been used to settle upset stomachs for centuries. Ginger is also anti-inflammatory, and can help relieve joint pain caused by arthritis.
If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, herbs can be a great way to flavour your meals too – here are some of the most widely used and some interesting health benefits that may surprise you…
This popular garnish is high in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, and can help cells repair themselves. In concentrated doses, scientists have found that natural chemicals in parsley can neutralise cancer-causing compounds called carcinogens.
In folklore, this fragrant herb was thought to improve memory, and is a symbol of remembrance across the world. When used in cookery, it can help make cooked meats healthier by fighting foodborne bacteria.
Why not try: Lamb and Barley Hotpot, packed full of tender lamb and vegetables in a rich tomato and redcurrant sauce.
Find out more