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Think Spice: 8 Spices with Health Benefits
If you've ever tried chia seed pudding, you know that superfood doesn't always equal superdelicious. Before you buy another bag of something that looks as if it belongs in a bird feeder, consider this: Just a pinch of oregano can turn even grilled cheese into a disease-fighting dish. "Technically, spices are vegetables in concentrated form," says Wendy Bazilian, RD, the nutrition adviser for the Golden Door Spa & Fitness Resort in Escondido, California. "Like veggies, they contain thousands of healthy phytonutrient compounds, including antioxidants." But spices are calorie-free and require no prep. Pop the tops on these eight pronto.
The starring role in this blend of herbs and spices belongs to turmeric, which contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory "that's 50 times more potent than vitamin C or E," says Bharat Aggarwal, PhD, a professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the author of Healing Spices. In fact, one study shows that curcumin inhibits the growth of certain breast cancer cells, and other research suggests it may also protect against stomach and colon cancer.
How to Use It
- Rub curry powder on halibut, tilapia, or pork loin before roasting.
- Try it in this light-but-luscious soup recipe from Aliya LeeKong, the culinary creative director and chef for Junoon restaurant in New York City: Place two halved and seeded butternut squashes cut side up on a baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast at 400 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Meanwhile, over medium heat, sauté two onions, chopped; three garlic cloves, minced; two tablespoons of curry powder; and salt to taste in one tablespoon of olive oil until the onions are soft. Working in two batches, scoop the roasted squash into a blender and puree with the cooked onion mixture, six cups of chicken broth, and one-third cup of crème fraîche until smooth.
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