Wednesday, February 16, 2011

FUEL Better: Spice Up Your Life

Spice Up Your Life

Along with fresh vegetables, spices are one of the best examples we have of nutrient-rich foods. These foods provide us with a negligible amount of calories, while providing us with a surprising variety of nutrients. While traditional cuisines around the world depend on spices for their unique flavors and aromas, the nutritional value of these foods is often overlooked.

Among the vitamins contributed to the U.S. food supply by spices, carotenoids ranked highest.

Vitamin C and vitamin B6 were also worthy of special mention here. Among minerals, the contribution of spices ranked highest for iron.

Calcium, magnesium, copper, and potassium were also included as minerals provided more frequently by spices in the U.S. food supply.

Since spices are typically consumed in small amounts, they may not always make a large contribution to our nutrient needs. But it would be very wrong to think about spices as nutritionally irrelevant.

You’ll get 38% of the Daily Value (DV) for manganese from 2 tsp of ground cinnamon.

2 tsp of oregano will give you 23% of your daily vitamin K.

2 tbsp of parsley can provide you with 12% of the DV for vitamin C.

Try to incorporate these common spices into your weekly menus:

Turmeric:
     Boost your weight loss. Scientists from the Agricultural Research Service found that a component in the Indian spice may stall the spread of fat tissue by inhibiting blood vessel growth in fatty tissue.
     Add it to: eggs, rice, curries, paellas, and stews, chicken

Cinnamon:
     3 grams a day of this pale brown powder may help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cinnamon aids in balancing your blood sugar levels and decreasing insulin demands.
     Add it to: coffee, oatmeal, low fat plain yogurt, baked goods  

 Cayenne Pepper:
     Curb your cravings with this fiery pepper. A recent study showed that capsaicin (the compound that adds heat and pungency to peppers) can help suppress hunger and sustain satiety, especially when combined with green tea. 
     Add it to: chili, dips, eggs, potatoes, pizza, sauces, and soups

Saffron:
     Use it to pep up your peepers. Italian scientists say that the exotic spice may help protect ocular cells from damage and death, therefore also helping to reduce the risk of certain eye diseases and vision loss.
     Add it to: soups, salad, sauces, stews, eggs, couscous, and dips

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