Emma’s Health Talk: The Spice Connection

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The Coastal Insider

Cooking For Our Health

by Emma Ware

One of my go-to places on the web is WebMD; and as I was researching material for this article at that site, I discovered information contributed by Monica Moreno, adjunct professor of nutrition at the University of Miami, also a dietitian for the Miami Marlins.

According to Monica, it’s best to cook with herbs and spices regularly— something I encourage all of my clients to do because of what she next stated: herbs and spices come from the leaves, seeds, berries, and roots of plants. Research shows they are chock-full of healthy constituents. Both herbs and spices fight inflammation and reduce damage to your body’s cells. They are both rich in phytochemicals (healthy plant chemicals). 

Below are a few of these beneficial spices for your culinary consideration, along with their positive side affects, which you may not have been aware of previously. 


A sweet, pungent spice known to soothe an upset stomach. Lab studies show it may also help reduce inflammation. An added perk is that it is high in minerals like magnesium and zinc. 


It’s low in calories, sugar-free and inexpensive. Use it to sweeten coffee or tea. Lab studies show that cinnamon may help with inflammation and fighting off bacteria as well as fending off the free radicals that can damage your cells. In addition to all those benefits, cinnamon also helps to lower blood sugar—  but be sure to check with your doctor first when using it for this purpose. 


Often thought of only as a key ingredient in chocolate, this is a spice with many health perks. It’s full of flavonoids that are antioxidants shown to boost heart health. Flavonoids seem to play a role in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, helping to keep your coronary arteries healthy among other benefits.


Known worldwide as a key ingredient in many Indian dishes, cumin is naturally rich in iron. It may also play a role in weight loss. One study conducted involved eighty-eight overweight women. Those on a low fat diet who ate less than a teaspoon of cumin daily lost more weight and body fat than those who didn’t add it on the same diet.


This plant has a powerful compound called allicin. Lab studies have shown that it may lower your chances of getting heart disease. Another study shows that eating garlic regularly may help with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. But to receive the benefits— you must crush the clove. Allicin is formed only after the cells in the garlic are cut or crushed. 

I hope this bit of information encourages you to research and experience more of the truly awesome benefits of adding herbs and spices to your menu. You will find amazing information about these incredible, flavorful, healthy compounds from natures own medicine chest.

Remember to always check with your doctor before making any changes to your health regimen. And be sure to listen to Myrtle Beach’s 99.5 talk radio this month for my call-in segment with Dave. 

Come find me at 2798-D Howard Ave. in the Market Common. Or call me at 843-997-7037. Your questions and comments are always welcome. 




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