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Spices: True Cost For A Healthy Life
Spices were some of the most valuable items of trade in the ancient and medieval world. Herbalist and folk practitioners have used plant remedies for centuries, but only recently have scientist begun to study the powers of common herbs and spices. Spices or their active compounds could be used as possible ameliorative or preventive agents for these health disorders. Spices are rich in antioxidants, and scientific studies suggest that they are also potent inhibitors of tissue damage and inflammation caused by high levels of blood sugar and circulating lipids. Because spices have very low calorie content and are relatively inexpensive, they are reliable sources of antioxidants and other potential bioactive compounds in diet. Because spices have very low calorie content and are relatively inexpensive, they are reliable sources of antioxidants and other potential bioactive compounds in diet.
Several epidemiologic studies have indicated that certain diets are associated with low risk of cardiovascular disease and that these diets are rich in fruits, herbs and spices; the common spice among them is garlic. Garlic is believed to have originated in Central Asia and it is used universally as a flavoring agent, traditional medicine, and a functional food to enhance physical and mental health. Recently, scirntist have observed that freshly crushed garlic exerts superior cardioprotective activity than processed garlic. Curcumin is an inevitable spice as well medicine used in the ancient traditional medicinal systems like Siddha and Ayurveda whose history goes back to over 5000 years. In Indian and Chinese medicines, turmeric was used as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat gas, colic, toothaches, chest pains, and menstrual difficulties. This spice was also used to help with stomach and liver problems, to heal wounds and lighten scars, and as a cosmetic.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe, Zingiberacae) is a medicinal plant that has been widely used in Chinese, Ayurvedic medicines all over the world, since ancient times, for a wide range of unrelated ailments that include arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, muscular aches, pains, sore throats, cramps, constipation, indigestion, vomiting, hypertension, dementia, fever, infectious diseases and helminthiasis The health benefits of ginger documented over 2,000 years ago indicates that ginger has various medicinal properties. The active ingredient in ginger is gingerol, a compound that's thought to relax blood vessels, stimulate blood flow and relieve pain. Ginger is also an anti-inflammatory agent, which means it may be useful in fighting heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and arthritis. Antimicrobial, anti thrombotic, anti-inflammatory and anticancer activity have also been reported.
Pepper is an extensively used spice both in Eastern and Western food. It has an impressive antioxidant and antibacterial effect and helps with digestion and weight loss because it stimulates the breakdown of fat cells. Black pepper is considered as the king of spices, as it fetches the highest return as judged from the volume of international trade. Black pepper or its active principle piperine has been experimentally demonstrated by a number of independent investigators to possess diverse physiological effects.
Coriandrum sativum (Coriander) has been documented as a traditional treatment for cholesterol and diabetes patients. It has a long history as a traditional medicine. The seeds of coriander have a remarkable hypolipidemic action. The level of LDL + VLDL cholesterol decreased while that of HDL cholesterol increased in the experimental group compared to the control group. The increased activity of plasma LCAT enhanced hepatic bile acid synthesis and the increased degradation of cholesterol to fecal bile acids and neutral sterols appeared to account for its hypocholesterolemic effect.
Spices are heterogeneous collections of a wide variety of volatile and non-volatile staple dietary additives. India with its wide climatic conditions and topographical features naturally possesses wide variety of spices which are being used in the diet. The above discussed spices namely garlic, pepper, coriander, ginger, turmeric are commonly used spices in Indian delicacies. These spices turn an ordinary meal to an extraordinary experience. With time, we can expect to see a greater body of scientific evidence supporting the benefits of spices in the overall maintenance of a healthy heart which is the most important organ for every beat of life and protection from diseases of the heart.
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