NOT JUST FOR YOUR TASTEBUDS
Spices used in Indian food have great health benefits. Come into Karma and experience the benefits and tastes of traditional spices:
Black pepper is not a spice that many people associate with Indian cooking. However, these little peppercorns have their most ancient roots in India. By now, they are one of the most traded spices in the world and are commonly found in many European dishes, often paired with salt. Black pepper aids in digestion, congestion, an upset stomach and can also help to stop the bleeding on a cut when applied topically.
Cardamom grows wild in India, Ceylon and Malaysia, and has been used by healers in those regions much like ginger, as a digestive aid. A 2008 study published in the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” confirmed cardamom’s use for gastrointestinal ailments such as diarrhea, colic and constipation, and also its benefits for lowering blood pressure in laboratory animals. Cardamom adds flavor to everything from sweet potatoes and squash to pastries. Combined with cinnamon, cloves and ginger, cardamom makes a delicious and good-for-you chai tea.
This bark-like spice originates from Sri Lanka, and was originally harvested by Arabian traders from a tall tree and ground to create the powder form of cinnamon. According to the Mayo Clinic, research suggest that cinnamon might help to regulate treatment for people with type 2 diabetes. The theory is that cinnamon increases insulin action.
The little bud resembles a tiny flower used not only in Indian cuisines, but in African and Middle Eastern as well. In cosmetic uses, close is found in toothpastes, soaps, and perfumes. Indian healers have used the oils, flower buds,and stems from the plant in an array of medicine. For example, clove is possibly effective in helping with premature ejaculation when applied directly to the penis. Clove oil can also help with pain when applied topically, and can help with stomach issues like gas, diarrhea, nausea and upset stomach.
India is one of the world’s main producers of coriander, a spice that has been in use for at least 7,000 years, according to “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.” The fresh leaves of this spice are called cilantro; the dried seeds are sold ground or whole in supermarkets. Like other Indian spices, coriander gains its fame for its anti-inflammatory properties and aid to digestion. But one study, published in the “Journal of Environmental Biology” in 2008, found that coriander seeds also lowered LDL, or “bad” cholesterol in rats, while also raising HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels. A 2011 study published in the “Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences” concluded the antioxidants in coriander seeds help relieve oxidative stress in diabetes patients – leading researchers to recommend coriander as part of the dietary therapy for this condition.
These small green seeds are not only the heart of several dishes and pickles but are also eaten as a post meals as a mouth freshener. Fennel is carminative (gas/flatulence releasing) by nature. These seeds are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, iron, and fiber. Fennel is a known antispasmodic and is used to relieve colic, especially in infants and children.
Garlic is considered as natural remedy for a number of ailments. The important uses include treatment of acne, for cardiovascular health and for lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, as an anti-bacterial agent, as an anti-arthritic agent (to treat joint pains), to improve digestion and so forth. It also helps the body to produce certain antioxidants which have beneficial effects on the liver. In India people still rub warmed cooking oil with crushed garlic in it on the chest and back (particularly of babies, but adults also) to relieve chest congestion due to cold.
Used for centuries in Indian and other Asian cuisines, ginger root also has a long history as a home remedy for digestive problems. A 2008 study published in the “European Journal Gastroenterology and Hepatology” found a scientific basis for ginger’s benefits to the G.I. tract, showing that it helps move food more quickly from the stomach into the small intestine for absorption. Steep a slice of peeled ginger root in a cup of hot water when you have an upset stomach. Ginger also appears to assist with inflammation, according to a report in “Arthritis Today.” Participants in a study at the University of Miami showed a 40 percent improvement in osteoarthritis pain after taking ginger extract.
A relative of ginger, turmeric gives curry dishes a bright yellow color – earning it the nickname “Indian saffron.” Ancient Indian and Chinese healers used turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties, treating everything from menstrual pain to toothaches. Modern scientists, however, are interested in the benefits of curcumin, the active agent in turmeric, as a powerful antioxidant. The American Cancer Society notes that a number of studies have found curcumin kills cancer cells in vitro and reduces the size of tumors in animals. Research on humans with cancer is still preliminary, as researchers try to find safe, effective dosages of curcumin to produce similar effects. Make a turmeric-flavored side dish by cooking the spice into rice, then serving the rice with a stir-fry.