The Health Benefits of Holiday Spices and Herbs
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Warm and spicy, cinnamon flavors some of our favorite holiday baked goods. Historically, it's been used to treat indigestion. For people with diabetes, cinnamon may offer an extra benefit, although research has been mixed. One theory is that it acts like insulin, helping to control blood glucose levels. (Of course, cinnamon should be a complement to the main ways of treating diabetes — diet, exercise and medication — and not an alternative.)
Peppermint tea is a popular wintertime warmer, and research shows that's a good thing. It can help relax stomach symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion, making a cup of hot peppermint tea a good choice after a big meal. In test tube studies, peppermint has been show to combat germs and to have strong antioxidant properties.
This piney herb perks up roasted chicken and potatoes, but it may also be a boon to your health. Like many other herbs, rosemary may help ease indigestion. The herb also contains two antioxidants carnosic acid and carnosol that may help prevent prostate cancer.
Ginger has long been used in Asian medicine to cleanse the body, quell nausea and increase appetite. Current research on the health benefits of ginger has shown that it's effective in treating morning sickness (during pregnancy, be sure to consult with a physician before taking any supplement), menstrual cramps, dizziness and nausea. It also may be moderately effective for treating osteoarthritis pain.
Get the Recipe: Ginger Angel Food Cake
Small-leaved thyme is a relative of mint. It has many natural chemicals that might help fight infection. It is also thought to help bronchitis and coughs by soothing muscle spasms.
Get the Recipe: Green Bean Casserole - Slimmed
This earthy, downy herb adds a special flavor to poultry and pasta. Research on sage's benefits is limited, but there could be some advantages. As an extract, sage may help improve learning and memory in people with Alzheimer's disease.