The health benefits of spices and herbs


The Post Fry’s Curry Cook-Off competition is happening in Durban and Gauteng over the upcoming months so to get your creative juices flowing we will be talking about all things curry (in the kitchen) in the lead up to it. There is no denying that the spices and herbs, infused in the curries that we enjoy, are delicious but did you know some of their health benefits? They have been found in our kitchen pantries for centuries but they have just as many uses when found in the medicine cabinet.

Have a look at our list of herbs and spices and their health benefits:

1. Ginger
The origins of the use of ginger can be traced back thousands of years to south-eastern Asia, India and China where it was widely used in cooking and for medicinal purposes. The plant is indigenous to China and is now also cultivated in India, Japan, Indonesia, Australia and parts of Africa. The pungent smell one gets from taking a whiff of ginger stem from the chemical compounds such as gingerols and shogaols. These compounds have been found to reduce nausea and aid the digestive system. Other studies have found ginger to have strong anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial to those who suffer from arthritis.


2. Cloves
The clove is the dried, unopened pink flower bud of the clove tree. Cloves are used as flavouring in stews and curries, as well as spiced alcoholic beverages while also finding their way into perfumes, toothpaste, soaps and even cigarettes! Cloves contain eugenol which is a local anesthetic and has historically been used in the dentistry industry. Cloves have been found to have antimicrobial effects which promote strong teeth and gums by fighting plaque.


3. Rosemary
This evergreen herb originates from the Mediterranean, and is a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B6. The herb, especially the leaf contains antibacterial and antioxidant rosmarinic acid, which have been found to improve memory, relieve muscle pain, and stimulate hair growth. Studies have also shown that rosemary has antioxidant properties that could potentially inhibit the growth of cancerous cells in the body.


4. Turmeric
Turmeric is a spice, known for its stark yellow colour and mild aromatic fragrance. Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine both have been known to use the spice because of its healing properties. Turmeric contains curcumin which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a strong antioxidant. Studies have suggested that curcumin may help prevent or treat a number of types of cancers such as prostate, skin, and colon cancer.

What spices and herbs do you use in your favourite curries? Let us know and enter our #CurryCookOff competition here to stand a chance of winning a trip for two to Cape Town!

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