So in no particular order, here are some spices with health benefits you can use starting today:
Black Pepper: Freshly cracked black pepper has a much more potent flavor than more finely ground pepper. Either kind of black pepper is fine, so it is up to you to decide which you prefer. Additionally, you can buy whole peppercorns and crack them yourself if you so choose. If you are using turmeric in a recipe, be sure to add black pepper. Adding some black pepper increases the absorption rate of turmeric’s active ingredients. You can find black pepper in any supermarket, and it is a great way to add heat and flavor to your dishes.
Cayenne Pepper: This can be found whole in stores and used in sauces. Cayenne pepper can also be found in its ground form, which is my personal favorite way of using it. Cayenne pepper is known to have antioxidant properties, just make sure not to use too much of it at once! Cayenne is extremely spicy and not much is needed when cooking.
Cinnamon: One of my favorite and most versatile spices, it can be used in anything from coffee and teas to rubs and marinades. On top of that, it can be found in almost any grocery store. Cinnamon contains a high amount of antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, and supports good heart health.
Nutritional Yeast: Also known as “Hippie Dust,” it is a great source of B vitamins, particularly B12, which is great for vegetarians and vegans. Nutritional yeast differs from Baker’s yeast, which is used to make bread rise. It is found in a flake or powder form, similar to the consistency of a grated Parmesan cheese. It can be found in almost all health food stores and online.
Sea Salt: There are many types of table salt, all with varying mineral contents, and, thus, can have varying effects on health. Conventional table salts are mined and processed, while unprocessed sea salts are from pools of evaporated seawater. Iodine is actually added to conventional table salts. Therefore, to get the best from both versions, iodized sea salts form a happy medium. Companies like Morton and Celtic can be found in many supermarkets and most health food stores.
Turmeric: A yellow spice most noted for giving curries they yellow hue. Actually, turmeric comes from a root and is then ground down into powder form, which is available in many grocery stores today. It has been a staple in Indian cuisine for ages. The active compound (known as curcumin) has anti-inflammatory properties and is a known antioxidant. It has many other health benefits as well. Because of its many benefits, it would be wise to add such a unique spice to your cabinet. It is relatively mild in flavor, can be added to curries, rubs, vegetables, meats, and other preparations. Search for organic powders in your health food stores.
I know… that was six. Woops! This list is by no means definitive, either. There are many more that have a great deal of health benefits. I figured I would cover some of the more popular ones so you have an idea why you should use them.
If you want more ideas for food swaps, I’d encourage you to listen to this podcast:
Hope this helps!