HEALING FOODS AND YOU
Everyday foods and herbs and spices add flavor to your cooking and lives and promote healthy bodies. Here’s how:
The use of many date back 5 centuries to Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Herbs are usually leaves of plants or trees – basil, bay leaf, celery leaves, chives, cilantro, dill marjoram, mint, and more.
Spices come from the rest of the plant, such as the bark (cinnamon), root (garlic, ginger, horseradish and onion), buds/flowers cloves, saffron), seeds caraway, cardamom, coriander, cumin, mustard, sesame) berry (black, cayenne, chili pepper) or fruit (allspice, anise, mace, nutmeg and paprika). Spices are usually dried.
Coming from the same plants, sometimes herbs and spices “crossover” as both herb and spice. Coriander, is known as Chinese parsley, and in the US and Mexico as Cilantro. You can buy it in fresh form and in bottles as seeds and powder. And, different parts of the plant can taste different, so their uses in foods vary.
Some more than others truly help heal. For example:
- Mushrooms control blood pressure, lower cholesterol, kill bacteria and strengthen bones- some protect against cancers
- Oranges support the immune system (vit C) combat cancer, protect your heart, straighten respiration
- Tomatoes protect the prostate, combat cancer, lower cholesterol, protect your heart
- Cinnamon is good for circulation, cold and flu dissipation
Along with spices and herbs which help make foods taste great, they feed your body and brain with nutrients that help children grow and learn and adults maintain their cognitive and digestive powers.
Herbs and spices have been used traditionally for more than 5000 years. Traditional Chinese Medicine was on of the first cultures to integrate food, nutrition and health. In specially prepared soups, dishes and beverages for medicinal benefits and sustenance ginseng is used to improve stamina, ginkgo biloba to improve cognitive abilities and memory, nutmeg for diarrhea and cinnamon for colds and flu.
Ayurveda, 5000 year old traditional medicine of India, focuses on disease prevention and health with its emphasis on diet. Using turmeric for jaundice and inflammation, basil for the heart, mace for stomach infections, cinnamon to stimulate circulation, and ginger for nausea and indigestion. Each of these herbs and spices are used for flavor and help provide the 6 tastes*, in Indian cooking.
These are just a few of the herbs and spices you can add to your foods for new flavors and health. They are also available in health food & grocery stores and through alternative practitioners in supplemental forms. A wonderful liquid nutritional that makes use of Ayurvedic principles and ingredients is Zrii*. It’s tasty and effective in fighting many of today’s common digestive and inflammatory ailments.
Herbs and spices contain a variety of antioxidants, and boost your immune system – some have antimicrobial effects. The oil of Oregano is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. Combined with saline solution it can help you prevent and soothe sinus infections and is great used in crowded places such as buses and airplanes to prevent infection.
*6 Tastes of Ayurveda: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, atringent. for foods that exemplify these tastes see my next blog post
To your good health,
Ricki McKenna, C.N., a.k.a. Mchealthy