9 Spices Proven to Fight Cancer, Diabetes and Inflammation For Under $9

 

The new year is a great time to make your resolutions for the upcoming year. Many people find themselves trying to “eat healthier,” and incorporating spices can be a simple way to boost the antioxidant power of your overall diet.

The 9 spices in this article are superheroes in the food world, and can boost your metabolic rate, strengthen your brain power, prevent against cancer, decrease inflammation, reverse diabetes and improve cardiovascular disease at the same time.

Let’s delve into the details.

1. Turmeric

If I could award the nobel prize to any single spice, Turmeric would win it every time. Considered the single most anti-inflammatory compound in the world, there is almost nothing that turmeric can’t do.

Turmeric is the king of all spices, and gives pharmaceutical companies a run for their money. With virtually no side effects, turmeric has been demonstrated to positively modulate over 160 different physiological pathways, and is effective in killing cancer stem cells, reducing inflammation and boosting immune function.

The scientific literature boasts more than 5,000 abstracts containing over 600 potential health benefits of turmeric and its bioactive compound curcumin (1–6). Of these health benefits discovered, some of turmeric’s most notable healing properties include:

  • Destroying multi-drug resistant cancer
  • Destroying cancer stem cells
  • Protecting against radiation-induced DNA damage
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Protecting against heavy metal toxicity
  • Preventing and reversing Alzheimer’s disease

2. Cumin

A staple in the Middle Eastern kitchen, cumin is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and neuron-protective properties which have been linked to many positive effects in the human brain.

What’s good for your brain is also good for diabetes, because elevated hemoglobin A1c values (a marker of long-term glycemic health) makes you susceptible to neurocognitive disorders such as memory loss.

3. Red Hot Chili Peppers

Perhaps you like hot peppers in your food. Whether you’re capable of withstanding their tear-jerking nature, there is no doubt that the active ingredient capsaicin is being discovered as an incredibly powerful addition to any whole foods diet.

You know what they say: you’ve got to burn it to earn it.

And in the case of capsaicin, this couldn’t be more true. Capsaicin is the little chemical responsible for not only burning your tongue, but burning fat (and increasing your metabolic rate).

In a groundbreaking research study published in 2012, researchers found that capsaicin reduced the severity of insulin resistance and fatty liver (hepatic steatosis) in mice fed a high-fat diet (7).

In addition, capsaicin has been shown to reduce the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage) (8), and improve vascular health (9).

Incorporating red hot chili peppers into your diet on a weekly basis can stimulate many anti-inflammatory pathways and improve blood glucose control dramatically.

4. Cinnamon

Thirty years ago, researchers isolated discovered more than 70 distinct compounds in cinnamon with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties.

Cancer

Like turmeric, cinnamon has a secret too: cinnamon isd great at protecting against cancer formation and metastasis. Recent research shows that cinnamon has the potential to reduce cancer cell formation (10). In particular, two compounds - cinnamaldehyde and eugenol - have proven effective in destroying colon cancer cells, hepatoma cells (10–12).

Diabetes

I’m sure you’ve heard that cinnamon is good for type 2 diabetes your heart. To this end, scientists have identified specific compounds in cinnamon that can improve insulin sensitivity, glucose uptake and improve blood glucose (13–16).

Heart Disease

In the last decade, studies have shown that cinnamon has the ability to lower plasma triglycerides, total blood cholesterol and LDL, and reduce overall lipid accumulation in blood vessels (in doses as low as 250mg, or about ¼ teaspoon). The net effect of incorporating cinnamon into your daily regimen: reduced risk for atherosclerosis and heart disease.

5. Cloves

The clove is a versatile spice with an even more versatile nutritional profile, ranking extremely high on the list of foods with the highest antioxidant content. Cloves also top the charts with flavonoids, making them a powerful anti-inflammatory spice.

Known for purifying and stimulating the blood, cloves and clove oil are great for your immune system, and the eugenol in cloves is also very powerful for preventing against blood clots and neurodegeneration (17,18).

6. Nutmeg

With its dark orangish brownish color, nutmeg has many antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that slow down the deterioration of neural pathways in your brain, improve memory formation, reduce the effects of high cholesterol, and fight against cancer (19–21).

7. Fennel

This distinct Italian seasoning is an anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory spice full of phytonutrients. Fennel contains a special phytonutrient called anethole, which has been linked with a slowed growth of breast cancer cells. Fennel has also been credited with the ability to direct cancer cell apoptosis (programmed cell death or cell suicide).

8. Black Pepper

Black pepper is used in almost every cuisine across the planet and has incredible healing properties.

Black pepper is an everyday spice, and for a good reason: it increases the bioavailability of nearly all other foods, herbs, and other compounds. In combination with capsaicin and other substances, black pepper was found to burn the same number of calories as a 20-minute walk.

But black pepper has its own special compounds too. One such is piperine, which, in addition to giving it its distinct flavor, blocks the formation of new fat cells. And on the fat front, black pepper also raises core body temperature, forcing the body to eliminate toxins through sweat (22).

9. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves (dried and fresh) are good for your digestive system because they act as a diuretic and eliminate toxins. Think B-vitamins, think bay leaves. Due to their high vitamin B complex, bay leaves also help support the nervous system to increase energy and amp up your metabolic rate.

 

Always Purchase Spices Organic!

Do your best to purchase all spices organic. Why?

Because spices are concentrated parts of the exterior of plants, and conventional farming results in concentrated pesticide and herbicide residues.

Conventional spices are not significantly more expensive than their conventional counterparts, so spend an extra few bucks and always buy them organic.

Take Home Message

Eat spices daily. Be sure to include a generous serving of at least 2 of the above spices EVERY DAY for best results. The anti-inflammatory power of nature’s medicine cabinet are blowing the minds of scientists worldwide, so be sure to do your body a favor and eat them on the daily.

References

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  1. Ghorbani Z, Hekmatdoost A, Mirmiran P. Anti-hyperglycemic and insulin sensitizer effects of turmeric and its principle constituent curcumin. Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Oct;12(4):e18081.
  2. Ghosh S, Banerjee S, Sil PC. The beneficial role of curcumin on inflammation, diabetes and neurodegenerative disease: A recent update. Food Chem Toxicol Int J Publ Br Ind Biol Res Assoc. 2015 Sep;83:111–24.
  3. He Y, Yue Y, Zheng X, Zhang K, Chen S, Du Z. Curcumin, inflammation, and chronic diseases: how are they linked? Mol Basel Switz. 2015;20(5):9183–213.
  4. Shanmugam MK, Rane G, Kanchi MM, Arfuso F, Chinnathambi A, Zayed ME, et al. The multifaceted role of curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment. Mol Basel Switz. 2015;20(2):2728–69.
  5. Tsai J-R, Liu P-L, Chen Y-H, Chou S-H, Cheng Y-J, Hwang J-J, et al. Curcumin Inhibits Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Cells Metastasis through the Adiponectin/NF-κb/MMPs Signaling Pathway. PloS One. 2015;10(12):e0144462.
  6. Vallianou NG, Evangelopoulos A, Schizas N, Kazazis C. Potential anticancer properties and mechanisms of action of curcumin. Anticancer Res. 2015 Feb;35(2):645–51.
  7. Kang J-H, Goto T, Han I-S, Kawada T, Kim YM, Yu R. Dietary capsaicin reduces obesity-induced insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis in obese mice fed a high-fat diet. Obes Silver Spring Md. 2010 Apr;18(4):780–7.
  8. Kiani J, Sajedi F, Nasrollahi SA, Esna-Ashari F. A randomized clinical trial of efficacy and safety of the topical clonidine and capsaicin in the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy. J Res Med Sci Off J Isfahan Univ Med Sci. 2015 Apr;20(4):359–63.
  9. McCarty MF, DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH. Capsaicin may have important potential for promoting vascular and metabolic health. Open Heart. 2015;2(1):e000262.
  10. Shahwar D, Ullah S, Khan MA, Ahmad N, Saeed A, Ullah S. Anticancer activity of Cinnamon tamala leaf constituents towards human ovarian cancer cells. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2015 May;28(3):969–72.
  11. Hamidpour R, Hamidpour M, Hamidpour S, Shahlari M. Cinnamon from the selection of traditional applications to its novel effects on the inhibition of angiogenesis in cancer cells and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, and a series of functions such as antioxidant, anticholesterol, antidiabetes, antibacterial, antifungal, nematicidal, acaracidal, and repellent activities. J Tradit Complement Med. 2015 Apr;5(2):66–70.
  12. Kim J-E, Son JE, Jeong H, Kim DJ, Seo SG, Lee E, et al. A Novel Cinnamon-Related Natural Product with Pim-1 Inhibitory Activity Inhibits Leukemia and Skin Cancer. Cancer Res. 2015 Jul 1;75(13):2716–28.
  13. Askari F, Rashidkhani B, Hekmatdoost A. Cinnamon may have therapeutic benefits on lipid profile, liver enzymes, insulin resistance, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease patients. Nutr Res N Y N. 2014 Feb;34(2):143–8.
  14. Sartorius T, Peter A, Schulz N, Drescher A, Bergheim I, Machann J, et al. Cinnamon extract improves insulin sensitivity in the brain and lowers liver fat in mouse models of obesity. PloS One. 2014;9(3):e92358.
  15. Ranasinghe P, Jayawardena R, Galappaththy P, Constantine GR, de Vas Gunawardana N, Katulanda P. Response to Akilen et al. Efficacy and safety of “true” cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) as a pharmaceutical agent in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabet Med J Br Diabet Assoc. 2013 Apr;30(4):506–7.
  16. Magistrelli A, Chezem JC. Effect of ground cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose concentration in normal-weight and obese adults. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Nov;112(11):1806–9.
  17. Assiri AMA, Hassanien MFR. Bioactive lipids, radical scavenging potential, and antimicrobial properties of cold pressed clove (Syzygium aromaticum) oil. J Med Food. 2013 Nov;16(11):1046–56.
  18. Prasad SN, Bharath MMS, Muralidhara null. Neurorestorative effects of eugenol, a spice bioactive: Evidence in cell model and its efficacy as an intervention molecule to abrogate brain oxidative dysfunctions in the streptozotocin diabetic rat. Neurochem Int. 2015 Oct 28;
  19. Li F, Yang X-W, Krausz KW, Nichols RG, Xu W, Patterson AD, et al. Modulation of colon cancer by nutmeg. J Proteome Res. 2015 Apr 3;14(4):1937–46.
  20. Onyenibe NS, Fowokemi KT, Emmanuel OB. African Nutmeg (Monodora Myristica) Lowers Cholesterol and Modulates Lipid Peroxidation in Experimentally Induced Hypercholesterolemic Male Wistar Rats. Int J Biomed Sci IJBS. 2015 Jun;11(2):86–92.
  21. Parle M, Dhingra D, Kulkarni SK. Improvement of mouse memory by Myristica fragrans seeds. J Med Food. 2004;7(2):157–61.
  22. Balasubramanian S, Roselin P, Singh KK, Zachariah J, Saxena SN. Post Harvest Processing and Benefits of Black Pepper, Coriander, Cinnamon, Fenugreek and Turmeric Spices. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2015 Mar 6;0.

Contributing author: Caralyn Roberts has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1989, and has been applying a plant-based low-fat diet for more than 6 months with incredible results. Caralyn is a graduate of the Type 1 Training Club and has more than 20 years of experience as an avid researcher in the health and fitness industry.

About The Author

Cyrus Khambatta

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, I have spent over a decade learning the fundamentals of nutrition at the doctorate level. My goal is to share my knowledge of practical nutrition and fitness with people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is an OPPORTUNITY to attain excellent health. Reversing the effects of insulin resistance can be a fun and enjoyable process if the right system is in place. That's why I've spent over 10 years developing a rock solid system that can minimize blood glucose variability and insulin resistance.

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