Add some spice to your life! In addition to the healthy foods that you are committing to for the new year add some spice to your diet. Spices have little to no calories and have incredible benefits for your body. Some of my favorites that are easy to cook with and easy to find are turmeric, garlic and cayenne pepper.

Turmeric – a yellowish orange root that is found in many curry dishes is a nutrient powerhouse. It is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acids. There are studies dating back to 1985 in peer-reviewed journals that show its benefits in cancer prevention, as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and as having antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial properties. In addition, it has been shown to reduce cataracts and decrease serum glucose levels in diabetics. Approximately 2,000mg is the typical therapeutic dose prescribed by physicians. However, doses this high can result in lower blood glucose and blood pressure so when consuming take caution. Turmeric can also cause blood thinning and promote uterine bleeding so it is not advised for pregnant women. So how do you use it? You can purchase it in it’s natural form which looks like a root, similar to ginger, or you can purchase it in powder form. Use it for sauces, add it to shakes, add it to meat dishes, add it to soups, be creative! For more information on its benefits and uses check out this link at WebMD – http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-turmeric.aspx?activeingredientid=662&activeingredientname=turmeric

Garlic – another hugely beneficial plant! It adds great flavor to pastas, meats, and veggies and it also adds tremendous health benefits. Garlic has been shown to reduce the risk or certain cancers such as that of the esophagus, large bowel, larynx, oral cavity, ovaries and colon. It may also decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing cholesterol levels, as published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009. In addition, it helps with weight control by helping to increase body temperature which in turn burns more calories. Some ideas to add it to your diet include roasting whole garlic bulbs with meat dishes or rubbing a garlic clove over toasted slices of bread or add it to mashed potatoes. To get more in depth information on garlic go to http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=60! Share below how you like to use garlic.

Cayenne Pepper – This miracle worker is not only beneficial when ingested but is also used externally to help with muscle soreness, pain relief and arthritis. One little known external trick is to add the powder to your socks to help warm up cold feet! When ingested cayenne pepper aids in digestion by helping to stimulate the flow of saliva and increasing stomach secretions. It also helps to treat colds, fever, diarrhea and constipation. Lastly, it can help with poor circulation which will also help to warm up the body. Simple ways to add cayenne to your diet include chopping up fresh peppers and adding them to dips, sauces, soups or main courses. You can also use dried cayenne and mix it with lemon to season almost any type of veggie. Dried cayenne is also good added to cocoa for a warming drink on a cold night.

If you have ideas to share that use any of the discussed spices or if you have other spices that you particularly like please share with us by posting a comment below.