“Superfood” has become the biggest buzzword in the health food industry. However, after years of avocado and Quinoa’s reign it’s time to pass the crown to… Superspices! We asked top Nutritionists to tell us what the top five Superspices are.
Cinnamon: brain booster
According to recent research published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, cinnamon is not only a delicious addition to your breakfast but it can also improve your learning ability. How? It can reverse biochemical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of those with poor learning by stimulating the hippocampus, a small part in the brain that generates, organises and stores memory.
But that’s not all! Cinnamon has another superpower. If you are trying to cut down on sugar, you may be tempted to substitute it with artificial sweeteners in order to cut calories. Don’t! If a food or drink is described as ‘low sugar’, ‘slim line’ or ‘diet’, it will usually contain an artificial sweetener. These sweeteners have been linked to mood swings and depression and increased appetite. Sprinkle cinnamon on your food instead. “If you are really craving something sweet, try adding cinnamon to your natural yoghurt, latte or porridge. A few studies suggest that adding cinnamon to food might help better control their blood sugar, by lowering post-meal blood-sugar spikes” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar (www.marilynglenville.com)
Turmeric: pain reliever
In India, turmeric paste is applied to wounds to speed healing for a reason – it contains Curcumin, which has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has also been shown to help relieve the pain of arthritis, injuries and even dental procedures! Lily Soutter, Nutritionist and weight loss expert at lilysoutternutrition.com explains: “This bright yellow spice is best known for it’s potent anti-inflammatory benefits. It is the Curcumin within turmeric, which has been used to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis as well as playing a role within cancer prevention and protecting against heart disease”.
Are you trying to detox? Spice up your dishes with turmeric to help the liver function properly. “It stimulates production of bile by the gallbladder that is used by liver to filter and expel toxins. You can also take turmeric supplements with the active Curcumin for similar effect. Try CurQuMax by Quest Vitamins (www.qnutrapharma.com, £10.45)” adds Cassandra Barns, Nutritionist
Ginger: tummy soother
Ginger may just be what you need for digestive issues. “It helps to normalise the functions of the intestines and the stomach, especially during early pregnancy. Consuming a ginger tea with a meal may be useful, especially in pregnancy. There are many reasons for sickness such as pregnancy and travel sickness just being a couple” says Dr Glenville.
But did you know that ginger could also give you the WOW factor? Lily explains “Ginger can give you that healthy glow, radiant skin and glossy hair. This is because ginger stimulates circulation, allowing more vital nutrients to reach each organ. Ginger is also a great anti-nausea agent, a perfect tonic if you’re not feeing up to snuff”
Saffron: mood lifter
There is a reason why a gram of saffron is more expensive than gold. It has long been used in traditional Persian medicine as a mood lifter, usually added to tea or rice. Why? “Saffron extract helps increase serotonin, which is the feel good hormone in the brain. This will not only improve your mood but also stop you from snacking, giving the same boost in serotonin as a biscuit” explains Barns
Cayenne Pepper: fat burner
Studies show that capsaicin, a powerful compound in hot chillies and cayenne pepper revs up the body’s metabolism and may boost fat burning. Shona Wilkinson, Nutritionist at SuperfoodUK.com the online shopping destination for health & wellbeing says “We all recognise that cayenne helps us heat up, even making us break a sweat after consuming it. This is called diet-induced thermogenesis. It is this process that is excellent for those who want to lose weight as it encourages our body to burn up calories rather than storing them. It is the active constituent capsaicin that creates the heat in our body from the food ingested. Studies have also shown that chilli may help to decrease your appetite too”