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Everything You Need to Know About Spices

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Since the times of the ancient civilizations, spices were used to add flavor to meats, preserve foods, and were used as natural medication for ailments. According to the McCormick Science Institute, early documentation suggests that hunters and gatherers wrapped their meat in the leaves of bushes, accidentally discovering that by doing this enhanced the taste of the meat, as did certain nuts, seeds, berries, and even bark!

Spices became such a precious item that they became a type of currency and were used in exchanges and trade. The Bible even mentions that in 1000 BC, Queen Sheba visited King Solomon in Jerusalem and offered him "120 measures of gold, many spices, and precious stones."

Today, spices are often used for the same purpose that they did thousands of years ago.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been in use by humans for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians were fond of using it as a perfuming agent during the embalming process, and it was even mentioned in the Old Testament as an ingredient in anointing oil.

There are two main types of cinnamon:

  • Ceylon cinnamon: also known as "true" cinnamon.
  • Cassia cinnamon: the more common variety today and is what is typically be found in the grocery stores.

Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and is well known for its blood-sugar-lowering properties. Plus, cinnamon has been associated with prevention of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, since two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain.

Cilantro

People who are a fan of Indian, Thai, Mexican, African or Mediterranean foods, know of the powerful taste that cilantro has. The seeds of the plant, also known as coriander, have even been found in ancient Egyptian tombs and made its way over to the Americas in the 1600s along with everyone's favorite weed, the dandelion according to tastybite.com.

Some studies from Medical News Today suggest that increasing consumption of plant foods like cilantro may decrease the risk of obesity, overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease while promoting healthy skin and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.

Ginger

Ginger is a common spice that was once considered a luxury more than 5,000 years ago. The ancient Chinese used ginger as a tonic to treat most common illnesses. Ginger is packed with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and brain.

Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice, and is sometimes added to processed foods and cosmetics. Gingerol, which is the main bioactive compound in ginger, is responsible for much of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

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