Spice it Up
After you have made your juice and squeezed 1 lemon and 1 lime, now it's time to take it to the ultimate next level by adding some spices to the juice. Many cultures think that Herbs and spices have more disease-fighting antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables. Since I would rather not argue this point, how about we combine the two and truly get the best of both worlds!
Certain herbs and spices curb inflammation in the body, which may give rise to heart disease and cancer. For example, antioxidants in cinnamon have been linked to lower inflammation, as well as reductions in blood glucose concentrations in people with diabetes.
The health benefits of spices and herbs
The benefits spices offer you in terms of your diet and health are endless" says Elisa Zied, R.D., author of "Nutrition at Your Fingertips." "They can help control blood sugar, protect against inflammation that can contribute to chronic diseases such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes and may play a role -- directly or indirectly -- in weight management. Spices literally add spice to your life and diet but can also be a simple way to enhance meals and optimize your overall health, inside and out."
Here are some ways they help:
Antioxidant power. Research has shown that antioxidants are substances -- found in foods like fruits and vegetables --that may protect cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Antioxidants can protect you against heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Antioxidants include beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium and vitamins A, C, and E.
Anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers are investigating the unique protective properties of spices and herbs, and their role in possibly reducing inflammation. Inflammation has been identified as a precursor to many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, allergies, and Alzheimer's to name a few. Spices and herbs can be included in an anti-inflammatory diet to not only add flavor but to also assist in healing the body.
Weight loss. Researchers are exploring the potential of spices to boost metabolism, promote satiety, aid weight management and enhance the overall quality of a diet. The capsaicin in peppers are believed to have metabolic boosting properties. In addition, if the food you eat is flavorful and satisfying, there
Here are some of my favorites spices, and current ones that I add to my juices on a daily basis. I would suggest starting out with (1) per juice, and then combining them once you know what each will contribute to the taste of your juice:
A pinch of black pepper is added to almost every type of recipe imaginable. Once used as currency and presented to the gods as a sacred offering, it is fortunate that this most popular of spices is available throughout the year.
Black pepper (Piper nigrum)stimulates the taste buds in such a way that an alert is sent to to the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion, thereby improving digestion. Hydrochloric acid is necessary for the digestion of proteins and other food components in the stomach. When the body's production of hydrochloric acid is insufficient, food may sit in the stomach for an extended period of time, leading to heartburn or indigestion, or it may pass into the intestines, where it can be used as a food source for unfriendly gut bacteria, whose activities produce gas, irritation, and/or diarrhea or constipation. Black pepper has long been recognized as a carminitive, (a substance that helps prevent the formation of intestinal gas), a property likely due to its beneficial effect of stimulating hydrochloric acid production. In addition, black pepper has diaphoretic (promotes sweating), and diuretic (promotes urination) properties. Black pepper has demonstrated impressive antioxidant and antibacterial effects--yet another way in which this wonderful seasoning promotes the health of the digestive tract. And not only does black pepper help you derive the most benefit from your food, the outer layer of the peppercorn stimulates the breakdown of fat cells, keeping you slim while giving you energy to burn.
Tellicherry PeppercornYou may have heard of Tellicherry Pepper from one of your favorite cooking shows. Or you may have just bought McCormick Tellicherry pepper from Costco. Tellicherry is an old port town in Kerala and it was a major export hub for British East Indian Company to trade spices from South India. For centuries, europeans enjoyed the flavor of Tellicherry pepper in their gourmet meals. What exactly is Tellicherry pepper? By definition, it is 10% of the largest and ripest of the peppercorn harvest from Malabar region. What makes Tellicherry pepper so special?
The tropical heat, monsoon rains, and iron-rich laterite soil creates the best growing environment for the pepper. Better location to receive extra sunlight, location of the fruit on the vine to get better nutrient and time a fruit gets to mature before harvest etc contributes to make bigger, better pepper. And chefs across the globe swear by its rich aromatic oil and flavor when they grind Tellicherry pepper into their platter.
Cap a juice off with a dash of cayenne! The heat factor in cayenne pepper is brought on by capsaicin, a substance that makes peppers hot. Highly therapeutic, the substance helps relieve aches and soreness. It's even an active ingredient in some over-the-counter pain relieving creams. Other medical benefits include improved circulation, heart health and helping fight prostate cancer and ulcers. Cayenne pepper adds a spicy kick to foods like vegetables, tuna and turkey, and I add it to my juice as well!
The sweet spice, which contains iron, calcium, manganese and even fiber, is loaded with health benefits. "Cinnamon contains substances that work as antioxidants to protect cells against damage caused by harmful free radicals -- substances found in the environment and inside the body that destroy cells," explains Zied. The spice may also be a diabetic's new best friend. "Now we know that cinnamon has a remarkable effect on regulating blood sugar," explains celebrity nutritionist Oz Garcia, Ph.D. Several studies suggest that cinnamon may help regulate blood glucose as well as blood pressure in people with Type 2 diabetes. "One study found that consuming two grams of cinnamon for 12 weeks significantly reduces the HbA1c [a test that shows blood sugar levels], systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure in those with poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes," says Zied. Another study found that cinnamon extract significantly increased insulin sensitivity and improved hyperglycemia in mice. What's more, a dash of cinnamon may help curb your sweet tooth. "Sweet spices such as cinnamon can also satisfy cravings and when added to tea or fruit, may eliminate the need for supplemental sweeteners," says Cheryl Forberg, R.D., chef, nutritionist for NBC'S "The Biggest Loser" and author of "Positively Ageless: A 28 Day Plan for a Younger, Slimmer, Sexier You."
The Mediterranean spice is a good source of iron and like cinnamon, animal studies have shown it may help lower blood glucose levels. But that's not all. Cumin also has antibacterial properties, according to Zied. Several studies have found that the spice is effective at killing Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria linked with stomach ulcers, according to Zied. Got achy joints from arthritis? Black cumin (nigella sativa) can help reduce inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, according to several animal studies.
The bright yellow spice, which is part of the ginger family, does much more than make a mean curry. It may also help fight cancer. A new study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that curcumin -- the potent antioxidant in turmeric -- improves the effectiveness of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients and has potential to be developed into an adjuvant chemotherapy drug. Another study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research found that turmeric supplements suppress a cell signaling pathway that fuels the growth of head and neck cancer. (The biggest downside: The study participants' mouths and teeth turned bright yellow because of the spice -- a small price to pay for reducing the risk of cancer.)
A staple of Italian dishes, oregano is loaded with antioxidants and can also help fend off bacteria. When it comes to natural and effective barriers against E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria, oregano oil was found to be the most effective antimicrobial, followed by allspice and garlic, according to a study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologist. "A phytochemical in oregano called carvacrol has exhibited antibacterial properties," says Forberg, who notes that oregano extract is used in some mouthwashes.
I prefer to actually juice the size of about 2 fingers of Ginger, but you can also simply add it in this step as well if you have bought the powder. I will cover Ginger separately as well, but the spice is well known for its myriad health benefits, including anti-inflammatory benefits. "Two other phytochemicals, shogaol and zingerone, in ginger have anti-tussive and anti-inflammatory properties," says Forberg. "This means they bring relief for cough and congestion from a cold or the flu. They are also known to minimize discomfort from the ravages of arthritis." Sore from the gym? Have some ginger. Research published in the Journal of Pain shows that consuming two grams of ginger supplements daily eased exercise-induced muscle pain by 25 percent over an 11 day period.