September 16, 2011
The Importance of Spices
‘Spices’ is a broad term used to describe herbal byproducts that add flavor and aesthetic, aromatic, and therapeutic treatments to food, drinks and other items. Spices are taken from the leaf, flower, roots, bark or nuts of a plant and are usually dried and ground to be mixed with other ingredients. Spices appeal to the five senses and influence cultures and societies through trade and daily use.
From the mundane to the exotic, the use of spices can be traced back to the Middle Ages with nutmeg and garlic, among others. Trading spices among different cultures and countries over the centuries became a means of acquiring and flaunting power and influence, to the point of launching expeditions to find more spices in other places. As the spices were discovered, so were other continents, such as North and South America, bringing worldwide exploration, trade and commerce into being.
There are a few functions that spice has. The use of spices in food and drinks enhances the flavor and aroma of any dish. Along with these functions, spices have curative properties. Most spices used in Indian cooking are very healthy, and make the digestion process much easier. Curcumin is the antioxidant that gives turmeric its yellow color. According to ABC News, “The super ingredient has already been linked with preventing diabetes, protecting against Alzheimer's, and easing arthritis pain -- and a new study show it also helps ward off tumors.” In addition to this, in a study for the journal Gastroenterology, research has found that curcumin ignites the body’s tumor suppression activity. Also according to ABC, cinnamon has the ability to keep diabetes at bay. “In fact, studies show that as little as 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon a day may be all it takes to help keep blood sugar levels in check and lower levels of artery-clogging triglycerides in people with Type 2 diabetes.” Another spice that Fitness magazine says is beneficial...