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Do you love a good curry on Saturday nights? Who doesn't! The rich, aromatic spices are not just for sprucing up that curry. Turns out they have anti cancer properties. So, go on help yourself with a second serving. Let's take a look at a few spices in detail

Turmeric

For long Indian cuisine has been known for its vibrant colours, aroma and the plethora of spices. Be it a simple vegetarian dish like Dal Makhni or the king of chicken curries there is always a spice mix that is unique to Indian cuisine. The most important of all the spices is the humble turmeric. Indian saffron, haldi are other names for this yellow spice. It looks very much like ginger. Turmeric is now commonly available as powder in most supermarkets and grocery stores.

Curcumin is the ingredient in turmeric that renders anti-cancer properties to tumeric. Okay, so let's come to the point. Are there actual research findings to support that curcumin actually does have anti cancer properties? Well yes and no. Curcumin in turmeric does in fact prevent the spread and help kill cancer cells. However using turmeric in large quantities for cancer treatment need to be first consulted with a doctor. This could be a reason why turmeric needs to be extensively studied for its anti cancer properties. Any such positive finding could be a pleasant and powerful alternative to chemotherapy someday. That would be a win-win on the path to cancer recovery minus the side-effects of chemotherapy.

Research findings

Improved memory and mood was found as a result of including curcumin in the diet. This research was conducted by researchers at UCLA. Curcumin present in tumeric is not easily absorbed into our body by the gut cells. An easily absorbable type of curcumin supplement was studied in this research.

Turmeric is a crucial element in Indian cuisine. There is no substitute for it. Researchers believe that this is why Alzheimers disease rates are low in India. Cognitive perormance in the elderly was also better in India. So how exactly does turmeric do the trick? Turmeric is known for its anti inflammatory properties. Inflammation in the brain is a common factor in both depression as well as Alzheimers. So researchers believe that curcumin present in turmeric is responsible for this effect. In the study people who took curcumin experienced wonderful improvements in memory and attention abilities. However those on the placebo had no such improvements.

Ginger

Ginger - is that humble rhizome that is a god sent for all the sad tummy days. It has long been used to spice up teas and even help with weight loss. Ginger contains an active ingredient known as Gingerol. This Gingerol is what gives ginger its almost magical medicinal properties. Ginger can be consumed fresh, dried or even powdered. Ginger oil is also available today. It is a very common ingredient in Asian cooking.

Research findings

Chilis can make any boring dish go from eww to aah. However, previous research has found that capsaicin present in chilis can cause cancer, specifically stomach cancer. Fret not dear spice lovers. There is good news! Ginger is our new friend.

Research shows that 6-gingerol present in ginger can be the answer to our prayers. Interestingly, capsaicin and 6-gingerol both bind to the same cellular receptor - the one that is linked to tumor growth. Further research is underway on how ingredients present in ginger and chili interact with each other.

Garlic

It is often avoided by many as they cause bad breath or halitosis. Garlic contains allicin that has wonderful almost unbelievable medicinal properties. Did you know that garlic was used by surgeons in World War I as an antiseptic?! Garlic has many such medicinal properties. It controls blood sugar, improves digestion and even can lower LDL cholesterol. For those of you who are unsure of what LDL is, simply put LDL is the 'bad' cholesterol.If bad breath is what worries you, munching on an apple can help take away your garlic-breath.

Research findings

The researchers at UCLA have found a link between garlic and the formation of plaques in people with metabolic syndrome. Okay, so what is a metabolic syndrome you ask? A metabolic syndrome is typically characterised by obesity, hypertension and other cardiac problems. Aged garlic extract was used in this study to slow the progression of atherosclerosis and heart disease by reducing the accumulation of soft plaque. Formation of new plaque was also stopped by the used of this extract! Read more about foods that speed up metabolism

Black pepper

It is nicknamed as black gold. It has found its irreplaceable place next to the salt shakers all across the world. There is almost nothing that this spice can cheer up. From a sad omelette to a healthy salad, the black pepper has left its unparalleled mark in the culinary world. Pass me the pepper is what you'll be saying once you hear of its medicinal properties. Why do you think a good soup can cheer up any person down with flu? That's Mr. Pepper at work.

Black pepper improves digestion, helps with weight loss, has anti bacterial properties and can even provide relief for the congestion associated with a flu or a cold. If all this isn't enough, black pepper has been making women's life easier by taking a new avatar in a can as pepper spray. All jokes aside, include more of black pepper in your diet to stay active, healthy and strong.

Research findings

We've all heard that fried meat, grilled meat etc are responsible for cancer. Before you begin to worry about your barbecue nights out, you've got to read this. Black pepper can reduce carcinogenic compounds in grilled meats. It is found that most meat, including beef, pork, chicken and even fish, can form carcinogenic compounds at high temperatures. Most cooks swear that marinating meat with spices, helps to tenderize it and also increase the flavour. So, adding pepper to the marinade not only adds flavour but also helps remove harmful compounds like HCAs. HCAs start forming at around 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything higher and the concentration becomes greater. Slow low flame cooking might not be as tasty as the grilled version, but it is definitely a lot healthier. When it comes to marinating time, it is suggested that less is definitely more. The more the time taken for marinating the less healthy it is. So some key take-aways for your next barbecue is

  • Use herbs and spices to marinate your meat.
  • Add a generous amount of marinade to flavour your meat.
  • Do not blacken or burn your meat a lot to get that smokey flavour.
  • Do not marinate your meat for a long time.

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