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Ingredients for Good Health

12 powerhouse herbs, spices and foods you can easily include in your daily diet. They’re delicious, healthful, and you probably already have most of them in your kitchen.

We all know it’s important to eat properly, stay physically active and be intellectually engaged to stay healthy and happy. Nutrition has a major impact on how we feel and how our bodies and minds function.

Most of us, however, are so pressed for time at work and in our personal lives that good nutrition is just another stressful hurdle on our to-do lists. Poor nutrition can have a detrimental impact on how we feel both physically and emotionally. We need to rethink the way we eat so we can maintain good health to enjoy our lives.

When changing your diet, it’s important to find nutritious, flavorful foods you can love. Incorporating herbs and spices into your daily diet is an easy and delicious way to boost your immune system and improve your overall health.

Herbs and spices not only add amazing flavor to the foods you eat, they’re jam packed with beneficial nutrients and substances that have been shown to prevent degenerative conditions, including aging, and diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Herbs and spices have a greater concentration of antioxidants than any fruit or vegetable. Antioxidants protect your cells from free radicals that cause oxidative stress, a key cause of aging. Additionally, antioxidants protect your body from degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease and much more. Since antioxidants work synergistically to neutralize free radicals, each in its own specific area of the body, it’s important to eat a variety of herbs and spices for your overall health.

Here are 12 powerhouse herbs, spices and foods you can easily include in your daily diet. They’re delicious, healthful, and you probably already have most of them in your kitchen.

Almonds:

Tree nuts are an excellent source of nutrition, and almonds are among the most beneficial of the tree nuts. They provide antioxidants that prevent aging, heart disease and cancer, and they help boost your immune system. The fatty acids in almonds reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation causes numerous problems, including arthritis, headaches and heart disease.

Avocados:

Avocados are so good for your heart! They’re an excellent source of beta-sitosterol, a substance that raises the good HDL cholesterol and lowers the bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and are rich in the antioxidant glutathione, vitamin E, monounsaturated fats and folate, all of which prevent heart disease. Folate helps protect against strokes. Flavonoids and polyphenols found in avocados have anti-inflammatory effects that prevent degenerative diseases.  They’re a rich source of potassium, as well, which regulates blood pressure.

Chili Peppers:

Your heart will fall in love with chili peppers. They help to protect it by lowering blood pressure and are a great resource for the minerals potassium, manganese, iron and magnesium. The capsaicin in chili peppers has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Fresh chili peppers contain more vitamin C than oranges. They’re high in the B-complex vitamins niacin, riboflavin, B1 and B6, as well as the flavonoid beta carotene which, along with vitamin C, are essential for healthy mucus membranes, nasal passages, lungs, intestines and urinary tract. The anti-inflammatory properties of chili peppers are effective in treating arthritis, psoriasis and diabetic neuropathy.

Cinnamon:

Great things come in delicious packages. Cinnamon is not only delicious, it’s a powerhouse spice that offers a broad range of health benefits. Cinnamon strengthens the cardiovascular system and prevents heart disease, coronary artery disease and lowers blood pressure. It’s rich in fiber, iron, manganese and calcium. The calcium and fiber are thought to provide the protection against heart disease. Incorporate just ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon a day into your diet to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. When eaten regularly, cinnamon helps prevent muscle and joint pain and stiffness because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Every morning before breakfast, take ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon mixed into 1 tablespoon of honey to reduce arthritis pain. It’s a yummy way to start the day.

Garlic:

Garlic is another titan of the kitchen with many wonderful medicinal properties. It can be your first line of defense against bacterial and viral infections during cold and flu season since it strengthens your immune system. It’s an amazing nutritional powerhouse rich in antioxidants and sulfur-compounds that support the immune system and is a great source of manganese, selenium, and vitamins B6 and C. The anti-inflammatory properties in garlic protect the joints from osteoarthritis. Garlic is a very thermogenic herb that boosts the body’s internal heat and metabolism, which can help you lose weight. Studies show that a diet rich in garlic helps to prevent colon cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer.

Ginger Root:

Sweet, tangy ginger root. How delicious! And it has so many delightful things to offer your body. The digestive benefits of ginger root are well-known. Ginger root combats stomachaches, nausea and morning sickness, aids in digestion and improves the absorption of nutrients by stimulating gastric and pancreatic enzyme secretion. Ginger root can ease indigestion and the nausea of motion sickness. It’s a great remedy for heartburn. Ginger root is a powerful, natural painkiller and is believed to reduce inflammation in much the same way that ibuprofen and aspirin do. It’s particularly effective in relieving arthritis, muscle soreness, menstrual cramps and upper respiratory infections. It may also be effective in relieving migraine headaches because of its ability to reduce inflammation in blood vessels.

Olive Oil:

Where do I start to tell you about all the tremendous benefits of olive oil? Organic extra virgin olive oil is so nutritious. Although olive oil is high in calories, evidence shows that it aids in weight loss. A diet rich in olive oil reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, regulates blood sugar and enhances insulin sensitivity. The antimicrobial properties in olives and olive oil prevent stomach ulcers. Olives are rich in iron, a key factor in building the hemoglobin that carries oxygen to your cells. Olive oil protects the body from chronic diseases. People who use olive oil as a regular part of their diet are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. Because olive oil helps with calcium absorption, it improves bone calcification and mineralization and prevents osteoporosis. It’s a great source of vitamins E and K and is so good for your heart. Just 2 tablespoons a day can have tremendous benefits in preventing coronary heart disease. The anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil reduce the pain of chronic inflammatory disease like arthritis, regulate blood pressure, prevent strokes and blood clotting, and lower cholesterol levels.

Parsley:

This leafy green herb is more than just window dressing. Whether curly or Italian, parsley offers a wealth of delicious benefits for your body. Parsley protects your body from a variety of disorders, such as diabetes, asthma and atherosclerosis. It helps strengthen the immune system and fight against allergies, auto-immune and inflammatory disorders. Studies show that parsley is effective in preventing and treating urinary tract infections. Parsley is rich in apigenin, a substance that is both a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant flavonoid. Research shows that apigenin is especially effective in inhibiting cancers of the breast, colon, skin, prostate and alimentary canal. In addition to apigenin, parsley contains the flavonoids luteolin, apiin and crisoeriol, antioxidants that fight free radicals that damage cells and can cause cancer.

Rosemary:

Rosemary is another powerhouse of the kitchen. When you brush by a rosemary bush or snip off a sprig, it fills the air with an amazing fragrance. It’s enough to make you smile. In fact, studies have shown that smelling rosemary elevates your mood significantly and even improves memory. Modern research has found that carnosic acid in rosemary may boost brain function and prevent age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease by increasing blood flow to the head and brain. Do you suffer from migraine headaches?  Many people find that rosemary will alleviate migraines. Boil fresh rosemary in a pot of water and pour into a bowl. Lean over the bowl with a towel over your head and inhale the steam for 10 minutes. This should give you some relief. Rosemary not only treats headache pain, the essential oil is often used topically to relieve the pain of sore muscles and arthritis and to increase circulation. Rosemary strengthens the immune system because it contains powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that also help to prevent cancer.

Turmeric:

A few years ago when I was having dinner at an Indian restaurant, my waiter told me that turmeric, a key ingredient in Indian food, has anti-cancer and antibacterial properties. This was a surprise to me, so I did some research and found a great deal of information to support his comment. Curcumin in turmeric is effective in preventing many forms of cancer. Turmeric is a natural painkiller and cox-2 inhibitor, effective in treating headaches, menstrual cramps, mouth sores and fibromyalgia. Studies have shown turmeric to be as effective as ibuprofen in reducing joint pain and arthritis. Turmeric may prevent or slow the progression of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, by removing the accumulation of amyloid plaque in the brain. Turmeric is a heart health powerhouse that provides tremendous benefits to your entire cardiovascular system. The curcumin in turmeric is highly effective in lowering LDL cholesterol and preventing the build-up of new cholesterol, which in turn prevents heart attacks and strokes. The B6 in turmeric protects your blood vessels and heart by regulating homocysteine levels. Research shows that a daily dose of turmeric may also lower blood pressure.

Walnuts:

Like almonds, walnuts are tree nuts, and they’re so good for you. Just ¼ cup of walnuts provides copper, biotin, manganese, molybdenum and over 100% of the daily recommended value of omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation and help to build strong bones. These essential fatty acids, along with biotin, zinc and selenium, will give you shiny, healthy hair. Use walnut oil on your salads for a delicious way to get most of the same benefits as eating walnuts.

Water:

Did you know that if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated? Water comprises approximately two-thirds of our body and is vital not only to our health but also to our very survival. Our tissues and organs are mostly made of water. Every cell in our body needs water. Muscles, brain, bone and blood all depend on water to function properly. If you don’t drink enough water, eight to ten cups a day on average, you’ll become dehydrated. Dehydration is a life-threatening condition. Some of the signs of dehydration are fatigue, thirst, hunger, headache, constipation, muscle cramps, dark urine, kidney problems, irregular blood pressure and dry skin.

This article was excerpted from “It’s Only Natural: Remedies for a Healthy Life” by Diana Osberg – available at Amazon.

Category : Books, Eat & Thrive, Food for Life, Hot Bloggers.
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