Let’s spice things up with this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter!
Did you know that 300 years ago, the Dutch city of New Amsterdam was traded away for nutmeg?
Why? Because in those days the control of the spice trade lead to great economic power.
But why nutmeg? The spice was prized for its health benefits, and people believed it could ward off the horrible bubonic plague.
This transaction and trade gave the Dutch total control of the nutmeg industry for more than a century. Nutmeg only grew on the Banda Islands, and the Dutch already controlled the remaining East Indies spice islands.
I know it’s hard to imagine all this when today you can go to the store and get nutmeg anytime you choose. It still remains true that
nutmeg has many health benefits.
It’s one of three spices worth adding to your cooking for improving your health. Let’s take a closer look!
Chronic inflammation stresses your immune system and messes with your metabolism. It can also lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
Nutmeg is one natural inflammation fighter.
Nutmeg contains powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals thereby reducing inflammation. Consuming antioxidants also benefits digestive and brain health.
Nutmeg can also help you get a better night’s sleep. I’ve written many times before about how many Americans experience chronic sleep issues. Nutmeg contains a chemical called trimyristin. There are studies showing that trimyristin can aid sleep and even help you sleep deeper.
Don’t use too much nutmeg, though. Using too much can cause hallucinations or even organ failure. According to the Illinois Poison Center, it only takes about two teaspoons of nutmeg to see toxic side effects. Nutmeg is best used in big batch recipes. You can also sprinkle a small amount of nutmeg on your cereal or in tea.
Researchers are still studying all the health benefits of tumeric. Turmeric comes from a root similar to ginger. It is used in food in many cultures and especially in curries.
Turmeric gets its healing reputation from one chemical: curcumin. Curcumin has powerful antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
There are studies that show curcumin preserves memory. Researchers believe this boost comes from its strong inflammation-fighting properties.
You can add turmeric to your foods even if you don’t eat curry. You can use it as a spice on salads, in soups, and on rice. I even saw a tumeric chai latte offered in a coffee house!
*** Make sure you include these other beneficial foods in your diet!**
Ah, cinnamon, one of my favorites!
A 2001 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition saw that a compound in the spice, methylhydroxychalcone (MHCP), mimicked insulin’s action. It helped process glucose and stabilized blood-sugar levels. A 2013 evaluation of several other studies found that cinnamon significantly lowered the levels of blood sugar.
Similar to cinnamon, ginger also has blood-sugar-lowering properties.
The reason spices such as cinnamon affect your blood sugar is in the enzymes. One study from the Journal of Translational Medicine showed that spices such as ginger and cinnamon affected pancreatic enzymes. That means they worked with the pancreas, the organ creating insulin, to lower blood-sugar spikes after meals.
It doesn’t take much to enjoy cinnamon’s benefits. Even less than a quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon does the trick. I’ll add cinnamon to my yogurt or coffee.
And here’s a strange fact: when I was younger I hated the taste of cinnamon. Yes, hated it. But a few years ago a friend was making cinnamon toast, and I had a piece. What a revelation. I really enjoyed the taste! Life and our taste buds are strange that way, but I’m glad my taste for cinnamon reappeared!
Until next month, keep spicing up your diet, your life and of course, your Joyinmovement!