The Power of Herbs & Spices in Cooking

by Catherine Haug, April 4, 2011

You probably already use a few herbs and spices when you cook or bake. Most kitchens have at least a few of these, and many of us grow some herbs in our gardens. But there are a plethora of herbs and spices available that provide not only wonderful flavors, but also health benefits as well.

Check out this informative article on Mercola’s website: Healing Herbs, and How to Use Them in Your Cooking. He discusses:

  • An interesting scientific study using a combination of cloves, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, ginger, black pepper, paprika and garlic powder, a list that most of us have in our kitchens;
  • Immune boosting herbs & spices;
  • Those that boost mental health and/or reduce anxiety;
  • Turmeric (a potent cancer fighter, but also has many other health benefits);
  • Cinnamon (for diabetics, to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar).

A note about cinnamon:

I have been using cinnamon in my morning smoothie for about 15 years, but was disappointed that it did not lower my fasting insulin levels. Then I learned there are two types of cinnamon:

  • True cinnamon, AKA Ceylon (or Sri Lanka) Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
  • Aromatic cinnamon, AKA cassia (Cinnamomum cassia or Cinnamomun aromaticaum)

Only true (Ceylon) cinnamon provides the benefits for diabetics. Unfortunately, the type of cinnamon sold in grocery stores (even in bulk) is the other type, cassia, which may be toxic at levels used by diabetics, and does not provide the same benefit.

You can order true cinnamon online; I get mine by special order through Swan Valley Herbs. Once I switched to true cinnamon, I noted that both my fasting insulin and  cholesterol went down, and I have less inflammation! [NOTE: the cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering effects happen only if you have insulin-sensititvity issues or are type-2 diabetic].

Use between 1/2 – 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon daily for maximum benefit. 1/2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon provides 5 grams cinnamon. CAUTION: The higher dose should only be used by those with type-2 diabetes. Too much cinnamon if you don’t need it, could be toxic. And NEVER use this high a dose of cassia, as it is definitely toxic.

One tasty way to ingest cinnamon is as a tea with honey (see Healing Herbs, and How to Use Them in Your Cooking, for how to make the tea). Or you can mix it into a protein & fruit smoothie as I do.

Note that I am not a doctor and am not qualified to advise you on your specific health situation.  My intent is merely to raise awareness and express opinion.

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