Now that the festive season is upon us, we will no doubt be cooking delicious food or at least eating more of it. Food without herbs and spices would be like Christmas without the Christmas tree – inconceivable! They are full of flavour and are linked to many impressive health benefits. Herbs come from the leafy green part of the plant, whilst spices are the made from the roots, stem, bulb, bark or seeds. This article contains five gloriously fragrant spices and herbs that will instantly conjure up and capture the Christmas spirit! Read on for our 5 Glorious Christmas Spices, Herbs and their Health Benefits!
These small flower buds are one of the main ingredients used in gingerbread baked goodies, a natural Christmas staple. Cloves are great for oral health. They have the ability to reduce the bacteria which causes gum disease, helping to create a balanced oral microbiome. These little marvels can reduce gum swelling thanks to their potent anti-inflammatory properties, namely due to a component called Eugenol, often used by dentists as an anti-inflammatory and anaesthetic.
Cinnamon is everywhere at this time of year – in our food and even our decorations! There are two types of cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon possesses the health benefits and by that virtue is the more expensive whereas the cassia variety is cheaper and found in most food products that claim to contain cinnamon. Ceylon can help lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity, making insulin more efficient at moving glucose into cells. This the perfect spice to have at hand over Christmas as it will help level out your blood sugar levels after all those festive sugary treats – but be sure to choose Ceylon!
Whether you are rubbing rosemary into the main meal on boxing day or baking some delicious rosemary roasted potatoes for a Christmas party, the benefits of this Mediterranean herb stretch well beyond its taste and addictive fragrance. As research suggests, one reason to be reaching for rosemary this year is its role in preventing the production of dangerous plague in the brain, a contributor to memory loss and, ultimately, cognitive decline. Rosemary also contains Carnosic acid, which has shown potential to support your brain and memory and ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
A popular spice used in Christmas baking, it turns out that nutmeg is a powerful herbal sedative. A popular herbal remedy for sleep consists of warmed milk mixed with nutmeg. Not only can it help induce sleep, but it can also relax your tired muscles and nerves. If you are too excited to sleep in the lead up to Christmas, make yourself a nutmeg elixir and enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep!
There is always ‘thyme’ for this herb at Christmas to help flavour delicious stuffing and homely nut roasts. Thyme is rich in vitamin C and is essential for the proper functioning of your immune system. Vitamin C intake will encourage the production of white blood cells; their job being to help shield your body against infection. Secondly, vitamin C helps these white blood cells function more effectively, and protect them from damage.
Open up the magical world of your herb and spice cupboard this Christmas and set your creative juices alight with these enchanting, fragrant flavours. What are your favourite festive herbs and spices; which ones have notably boosted your health and wellbeing? What recipes are you looking forward to conjure up in your kitchen this Xmas? Let us know in the comments below, join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram. (This winter, get herbal, get spicy and Keep YOUR Fit ON!)