A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
As a cardiologist dealing with patients suffering from hardening of the arteries and other diseases of poor nutrition and inflammation, I suggest that you would be wise to buy the following three traditional spice combinations and use them liberally as one of the easiest ways to boost your nutrition. I prefer organic spices purchased within the last 12 months. Throw the old moldy ones away.
1. Apple Pie Spice
In my home, this bottle gets used in smoothies, on cereals, in coffee, and on fruit. This powerhouse mix usually has cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. By sprinkling this tasty and sugar-free mix on your food and drink you can boost the antioxidant level of meals tremendously.
Antioxidants work to reverse the “rusting” and aging effects of stress and toxins on your arteries and other organs. In a study of more than 3,100 food items, cloves were the top antioxidants among the many herbs and spices studied.
In addition to cloves, cinnamon helps balance your blood sugar and decreases bad cholesterol, allspice lowers blood pressure and may relieve menopause symptoms, and nutmeg may prevent wrinkles, lower cholesterol, treat depression, and improve memory.
2. Italian Seasoning Mix
The ingredients of this spice combination resemble a Simon and Garfunkel tune: oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage. In the same study that ranked cloves at the top of the herb and spice anti-oxidant list, all the components of the Italian mix fared well in anti-oxidant activity.
Oregano contains carvacrol and thymol that have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. This herb may calm the stomach, prevent food poisoning, and treat our livers. Marjoram has the same two active components of oregano and a third, ursolic acid, that act to slow the rate of Alzheimer’s disease, thin the blood to prevent heart attacks, and aid digestion.
Thyme has anti-inflammatory properties and shows activity that is anti-aging and may protect DNA from transforming to cancer growth. It may also prevent clotting of blood. Basil may act as an “adaptogen” making it easier to cope with stress.
Rosemary has been known since the time of Shakespeare to improve memory and added to grilled foods may lessen the production of chemicals that favor aging and cancer. Finally, sage may slow the buildup of plaque in arteries and has been used for centuries to improve memory.
3. Curry Powder
There are many blends of this potent Indian mix but the bottle in my kitchen contains coriander, cumin, turmeric, chili pepper, ginger, cardamom, mustard, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, and saffron. All of these spices have therapeutic value, but in particular turmeric, when combined with black pepper, is of utmost importance. This yellow spice has been considered a healer in Indian cooking for ages. It has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due to its main chemical, curcumin.
For an extensive guide to culinary and nutritional combinations of spices from around the world, click here.
Joel Kahn M.D. is a cardiologist and one of the leading lifestyle physicians in America.