It has been said that spices are nature’s pharmacy, and evidence continues to stack up to support that claim. Three common spices, bay leaf, cumin and horseradish, have some surprising health benefits that further shore up the claim of spices being nature’s pharmacy.
Bay Leaf is Powerful Antioxidant
A single bay leaf is off-handedly tossed into a multitude of recipes. We know and love the flavor well, but probably have never given thought to what health benefit that single bay leaf is deliciously providing.
When a bay leaf is cooked, it releases a multitude of powerful antioxidants into the recipes of which it is flavoring. Powerful antioxidants that fight cancer, ulcers and arthritis. The antioxidants from bay leaves also help wounds and mosquito bites to heal.
For the most potent health benefits from bay leaves, purchase fresh bay leaves that are whole, have a uniform size and color. Look for large bay leaves with the darkest green color. Fresh bay leaves have a milder flavor than dried bay leaves, as the leaves do not fully develop their distinct flavor until weeks after being picked. The use of more fresh bay leaves will be required to replace the flavor of a single dried bay leaf.
Cumin Controls Diabetes
An Indian study has shown cumin to be just as effective in controlling diabetes in lab rats as diabetes medications. Cumin has also been shown to protect against bone loss and prevent food poisoning. For the most potent health benefits from this spice, purchase whole cumin seeds and use whole or grind them at home just before use in recipes. Cumin seeds are also used as a home remedy to relieve a stomachache by boiling a few cumin seeds to make cumin tea.
Horseradish Fights Bacteria and Viruses
Did you know that horseradish was used as a medicine before it used as a food? It was, and horseradish can add tasty zing to a sandwich or cooked recipe while fighting off bacteria and viruses, like a cold or flu. Horseradish will also help clear nasal or chest congestion and reduce inflammation associated with a cold or flu. This surprising spice also helps relax tense muscles.
Horseradish is a cousin of mustard, broccoli and cabbage. The root of the horseradish plant is the part used, a little bit of grated horseradish root will go a long way in adding flavor and providing health benefits. After grating a fresh horseradish root, store the remaining portion in vinegar to retain flavor and health benefits of this surprising spice.