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Health Benefits of Spices by Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD

So delighted to have Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD be a guest poster here today. Deanna discusses the health benefits of spices ( a topic you know is close to my heart!). A MUST READ!

Indian Spices For the Health of It

By Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD

I’m excited to be guest blogging for Monica today. I had the privilege of hearing her speak at this year’s Eat Write Retreat conference, where we got to chat a bit. When she suggested I write a post about the health benefits of Indian spices, I was all in– after all my blog is called a Teaspoon of Spice (which I co-write with my business partner, Serena Ball.) As a food-loving dietitian, I emphatically believe healthy food should always taste delicious. Any nutrition tips I share are usually accompanied by a tasty cooking tip or a yummy recipe.

Fresh herbs and spices are an important part of upping the flavor ante of healthy dishes. But guess what? It turns out they also add a powerful nutrient punch to recipes. While there is no specific recommended “daily doses” of spices (because the research on the health effects of spices and culinary herbs is still emerging), adding spices/herbs to every meal is a good rule of thumb. And it’s not a hard thing to do when you like to cook!

Here’s a breakdown on some popular Indian spices:

Cayenne (Red Pepper)

Benefits: Considered one of the “Seven Super Spices” – because it has higher levels of antioxidants and with promising health benefits – cayenne is a great source Vitamins A & C. Some research indicates that cayenne could help decrease appetite and rev up your metabolism; but don’t go on that cayenne pepper cleanse just yet. Those calorie-burning effects are minimal; so instead rather, enjoy cayenne in your food as much as your spicy tolerance levels allow.

Uses:  Cayenne is popular in Indian, Mexican, Italian and Cajun cuisines and used to flavor meats, chili, seafood, fruit and vegetables – basically, add it to any food you want to make hotter!

Recipe: Lychee Pineapple Salad

Coriander Seeds

Benefits: Another antioxidant-packed spice, coriander is being researched for its possible role in lowering blood cholesterol. It’s also is a decent source of several minerals including iron and calcium.

Uses: Often a part of garam masala and curry spice blends, try coriander in soups, stews, beans, dressings, marinades, burgers, meatballs, chicken and fish. The seeds are delicious when toasted and then grounded. (In America, we refer to the fresh stems and leaves as ‘cilantro’ and the seeds as ‘coriander.’)

Recipe: Gorgeous Chicken Skewers


Benefits: Cumin is a rich source of iron (1 tablespoon provides almost half of your daily iron recommendation) and also has potential anti-inflammatory effects. Other possible benefits include fighting off bacteria, lowering blood sugar and warding off certain cancers.

Uses: Add to chili, dips, salsa, beans, chicken, pork, fish, grains and root vegetables. Cumin is usually a part of garam masala, too, and is fantastic when paired with coriander.

Recipe: Cumin & Chickpea Flatbread


Benefits: Monica has professed her love for this gorgeous golden yellow spice and with good reason, as turmeric is another one of those “Seven Super Spices.” With fairly powerful anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric is a good-for-your-heart spice to have on hand. It’s also a source of iron and manganese.

Uses: Commonly found in curry powder; try adding turmeric to chicken/tuna/egg salad, rice, fish, dips, soups and vegetables like peas and potatoes.

Recipe: Monica’s Fish Curry (her dad’s favorite!)

(All photos and text courtesy of Deanna Segrave-Daly)

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  1. I didn’t know that about cumin! I have high cholesterol, so I should give it a try.

  2. I will continue to faithfully read all of your posts. Thanks a lot for sharing.
    Arun Gm
    Midas Exim

  3. Love this post!
    Thanks so much for this succinct writing on the benefits of spices. I would love to know your sources for the research info on these spices.



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