Nine Spices That Give Health Benefits

Spices have been used in Ayurvedic medicine in India and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in China for more than 5,000 years.

The most obvious path to health and healing is spices that aid in digestion, which in turn boosts the immune system. Some spices can also offer pain relief from arthritis and chronic pain.

Let’s look at a few of the top spices in Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet. Note that with the exception of the first one, most of these can be eaten fresh rather than dried so you don’t lose any nutrients.

Also note that dried herbs and spices can be three to seven times more concentrated in flavor than fresh, so add a little to start with when learning how to cook with them, and then use more if needed.

1. Cayenne

This spice comes from the pepper family and also offers a warming quality and pain relief. Many creams used for arthritis contain active ingredients found in this pepper. It is also good for blood circulation.

2. Turmeric

This bright yellow root is powdered into a spice that has a warming quality and is great for both digestion and pain relief. It is ideal in rice and chicken dishes and is one of the bases for curry powder.

3. Ginger

Ginger is a tasty root that can be used in sweet and savory recipes. It is a staple of Indian and Chinese food and is used for digestion and pain relief.

It can be used for skin conditions such as acne and eczema. It is also good for blood circulation.

4. Licorice Root

This root is used to regulate blood sugar and the hormone cortisol, which is associated with the ability to lose weight. It aids healthy digestion and can be a tasty treat for those who like black licorice.

5. Milk Thistle

This aids in overall digestion and is also commonly used as a liver detoxifier that relieves liver inflammation.

The liver plays an important role in filtering harmful substances out of the body, but as a result, it can accumulate toxins and need to be cleansed. Milk thistle and ginger can also help heal stomach ulcers.

6. Peppermint

Peppermint is another tasty spice used to aid digestion. It soothes the stomach and supports gallbladder function. It can also help detox the liver. It is generally considered safe as long as it is not consumed in large doses, though pregnant women may wish to avoid it.

7. Cardamom

Cardamom pods are often used whole in Indian recipes. The little black seeds inside are ground up for Indian food, and for Scandinavian baked goods.

It is known to ease heartburn and can offer relief for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It also encourages digestive enzyme secretion, so the food you eat is broken down more efficiently and the nutrients absorbed more rapidly.

8. Coriander

Coriander seeds and leaves are both used in Indian and Thai food, as well as in Mexican food. It has a pungent flavor and is full of healthful fatty acids.

It is good for soothing the stomach and also has a lot of fiber to help with bowel health. Some have associated the antioxidants in coriander with helping to prevent colon cancer.

9. Cumin

Cumin is often paired with coriander in the same cuisines. It aids in digestion and encourages the secretion of digestive enzymes.

It is also high in fiber and used to help naturally relieve hemorrhoids.

11 Unusual Spices and How to Cook with Them

Most people stick to the standard spices you can find in any supermarket. But some people like to branch out and try something a bit more exotic. Here are a few rare or unusual spices to try.

1. Saffron

This is the most expensive spice in the world because it is made up of the thread-like filaments of the saffron crocus flower. Each flower has only three filaments, so it takes around 225,000 filaments to make up one pound of saffron.

Luckily, a little goes a long way, and it is ideal in rice dishes. If you can’t afford the high cost per ounce, you can use the bright yellow turmeric instead.

2. Sumac

This is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and has become trendy in recent years thanks to its savory and tart taste, similar to a lemon.

It is used as a rub on meat, a seasoning on salad and a tasty addition to hummus - the popular chickpea spread eaten in most countries around the Mediterranean basin. It doesn’t hold up well to heat, so add it as a finishing spice.

3. Garam Masala

This is another interesting seasoning that can be consider a finishing spice. Add it to Indian dishes before serving to add to their aromatic quality.

Recipes vary, but in general, you can expect garam masala to contain allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, mace, nutmeg and black pepper.

4. Cardamom

The pod and seeds can also be used on their own. The little green pods can give rice dishes a big flavor.

The small black seeds are ground up for garam masala and can be found in apple pie spice and in Scandinavian baking, along with cinnamon and nutmeg.

5. Galangal

Also known as Thai ginger, it is related to ginger and used in Thai cuisine, but it has its own pine-like taste, with a hint of lime.

It is delicious with fish and poultry, and adds a real depth of flavor to Thai curry and coconut milk-based dishes.

6. Juniper berries

These grow in Europe and are used to flavor gin, and to create tangy sauces for wild game such as venison and wild boar. You can also use it to season pork.

7. Oaxaca Chiles

These chiles have a unique smoky tasty that is causing them to trend in many dishes, particularly in vegetarian ones because the chiles lend a sort of meaty taste to a range of dishes.

8. Serrano chili powder

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the hottest, Serranos come in at about a 7, adding zing to Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes.

Like their Oaxaca cousins, they can add smokiness as well if you use smoked Serrano chili powder.

9. Fenugreek

This seed is crushed into powder and added to Indian dishes. It has a distinct smoky flavor that tastes a bit like burnt sugar. Use sparingly in your curries.

10. Asafoetida

Asafoetida is an incredibly strong-smelling and tasting spice that is used mostly in Indian vegetarian cooking.

It is definitely an acquired taste. It is a gum resin derived from a particular Indian plant.

11. Machalepi

This spice is made from the pits of sour cherries and is favored in recipes from around the Mediterranean.

It tastes of roses and almonds and is a favorite in baked goods, including Greek breads. It might also be labeled Mahaleb.

Which of these spices are you going to try?

Did you find this post fun, informative and useful? If so, please share it with others!

If you have a comment, question or suggestion, please leave a comment below!

Cheers, Helene Malmsio

Related Reading:

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Cooking & Recipes.

"Power Tips" magazine is back!
You Get A Free Complete Self Help Report delivered to your email box every edition, plus you get a free PLR article and other great gifts!

SUBSCRIBE BELOW ...  I promise you will want to USE what you learn!

I really want to know what you think of this site, this page, and to hear your tips or suggestions about it.

So please share your story or simply add a Comment in the comment box.

If you feel that the information on this page has been useful to you please give it a Like or share it with your friends - thanks!!

You are a life Saver!!

I recently discovered this site and I can tell you that my life has not been the same. I now come here EVERYDAY and spend at least 1 hour.

I used to spend that time browsing online fashion and beauty magazine which just means that I spend more. Now I have replaced that habit with coming here.

In future I will think about contributing articles as well. Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!! and God bless"

Contact Us | About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | FAQ | Testimonials

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.