Eating healthy does not have to be boring. Expand your palette by using herbs and spices to add rich flavor to your food without adding extra calories. Spices not only add flavor to food, they can also help regulate blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and boost your metabolism to burn more fat. Here are some popular spices you can add to your diet:
Turmeric contains curcumin, a very potent anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps reduce fat and boost metabolism. The antioxidant property of turmeric can help decrease insulin resistance, blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and other metabolic conditions resulting from obesity. Turmeric is yellow in color and bold in flavor. It is popular in Indian cuisine and curries, often being used as a flavoring agent in meat and vegetable marinades.
Randomized control trials have shown that cinnamon can help to lower hemoglobin A1C levels in people with diabetes when taken in doses of one gram or more per day. It works by supporting glucose uptake and a healthy metabolism. The warming, spicy flavor of cinnamon makes it a good complement to winter foods such as stews and hot beverages. It also makes a nice addition to a dry rub or fresh vegetable dish. Cinnamon is typically included as an ingredient in mixes such as curry powder, garam masala, Jamaican jerk blends, and pumpkin spice mix.
Ginger contains curcumin, beta-carotene, and capsaicin, all which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Ginger has been shown to decrease pain and improve mobility for people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Ginger is also frequently used to alleviate symptoms of nausea and indigestion. Ginger is commonly used in stir-fries, but its spicy, zesty taste is also delicious in tea. When buying fresh ginger, look for a root with smooth, firm skin, with no wrinkles, and a spicy aroma. Try fresh or dried ginger to spice up any fish recipe.
Black pepper is thermogenic, which means it helps boost metabolism. Piperine, the active substance in black pepper, helps pull glucose from blood into cells to improve blood sugar control. A teaspoon of pepper has only 8 calories which makes it a great lower calorie substitute for marinades and sauces. Putting a dash of pepper with a squeeze of lemon juice on grilled vegetables or chicken breast, for example, saves you roughly 60 calories compared to 2 tablespoons of Italian dressing. Use lemon juice and pepper instead of tartar sauce to flavor grilled fish, and you'll save around 55 calories.
From its name, you might think that chili powder is simply ground up chili pepper, similar to cayenne pepper. But this assumption is very wrong. Chili powder is a blend of spices, popular in Tex-Mex, Indian, Chinese, and Thai cuisines. Most chili powders contain cayenne pepper, along with cumin, garlic powder, salt, and oregano. Because different chili powders have different compositions, the heat level may vary. Cayenne pepper is pure ground, dried chilies and can be up to eight times spicier than chili powder. Like our , cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a natural stimulant that has been shown to have fat-burning properties. Single meal studies have found that capsaicin helps some people increase metabolism and feelings of fullness while decreasing hunger cues.