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4 Functional Spices That Are Nutritious and Delicious

You can use spices as functional foods in cooking to add flavor, color and nutrients. Here are some of our favorite spices for health benefits and taste.

4 Functional Spices That Are Nutritious and Delicious

Did you know? Spices are often called "functional foods," because beyond the flavor and color they add to dishes, they also have health and wellness benefits. In countries around the globe, they're often used as the basis for traditional medicine. 

When you’re cooking, go ahead and use a heavy hand with the spice. The following are some of our favorite functional spices, along with the health benefits of herbs and spices that will make you appreciate incorporating them into your dishes.

1. Turmeric

You can’t miss turmeric on the grocery store shelves. This bright yellow spice is a staple in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. It packs as many spice health benefits as it does vibrance.

Turmeric gets its nutritional benefits from the compound curcumin. Curcumin is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects.

Turmeric is a staple of curries, and you can find it in plenty of soups. You can also add it to scrambles, frittatas, rice, roasted vegetables and greens. You can also make a turmeric golden tea with honey and coconut milk, or add it to your favorite smoothie.

2. Ginger

Is it weird to love inhaling a spice in your kitchen? Because that’s really tempting to do with ginger. Ginger’s scent is distinctive, equal parts pungent and lemony.  

You’ll find ginger in lots of Asian, Caribbean and Indian dishes, like soups and meat, vegetable and seafood dishes. Ginger can also be used in tea and in sweeter recipes like cookies and baked goods.

Ginger is one of the best spices as functional foods because it provides a lot of nutrition with a ton of flavor. Ginger supports digestion, provides antioxidants and boosts your immune system. Eat up and reap the benefits.

3. Cayenne

Cayenne is one of the spiciest spices you can add to a dish. Trust us: just a dash will add some heat.

Sprinkle cayenne into spicy stews and chili, taco meat or veggies, and spicy meats like slow-cooked chicken. You can even mix it into a citrusy cocktail or juice, or add it to a dessert, like Mexican chocolate pudding.

Why should you turn up the heat with cayenne? Cayenne peppers provide nutrients like vitamins C, A, B6 and K. Whenever you have a dish that needs a little kick, sprinkle – we repeat, sprinkle – some cayenne on to take it up a notch.

4. Cumin

Cumin is another sniff-it-in-your-kitchen spice. It has an earthy, sort-of spicy aroma that can transport you to Latin American worlds if you close your eyes. That’s because cumin is one of the most-used spices in Latin cuisine, like rice and bean dishes, tortilla soup, mole sauce, and fajitas.

You’ll find cumin in a ton of other diverse global cuisines, too, like North African, Middle Eastern and Indian. Use it to create aromatics in curries, add flavor to chicken and ribs, and make potatoes way more exciting.

This is one spice where doubling the recommended amount is totally acceptable. As you enjoy every bite, know cumin provides iron, promotes digestion and fights inflammation.

Spice up your life

Spices add color and a burst of flavors to so many savory and sweet dishes. Some are exotic, and some are pantry staples, but we think all functional spices make each dish a little more interesting.

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