Benefits of Indian Spices & Herbs

Ginger

Used for centuries in Indian and other Asian cuisines, ginger root also has a long history as a home remedy for digestive problems. A 2008 study published in the “European Journal Gastroenterology and Hepatology” found a scientific basis for ginger’s benefits to the G.I. tract, showing that it helps move food more quickly from the stomach into the small intestine for absorption. Steep a slice of peeled ginger root in a cup of hot water when you have an upset stomach. Ginger also appears to assist with inflammation, according to a report in “Arthritis Today.” Participants in a study at the University of Miami showed a 40 percent improvement in osteoarthritis pain after taking ginger extract.

Turmeric

A relative of ginger, turmeric gives curry dishes a bright yellow color – earning it the nickname “Indian saffron.” Ancient Indian and Chinese healers used turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties, treating everything from menstrual pain to toothaches. Modern scientists, however, are interested in the benefits of curcumin, the active agent in turmeric, as a powerful antioxidant. The American Cancer Society notes that a number of studies have found curcumin kills cancer cells in vitro and reduces the size of tumors in animals. Research on humans with cancer is still preliminary, as researchers try to find safe, effective dosages of curcumin to produce similar effects. Make a turmeric-flavored side dish by cooking the spice into rice, then serving the rice with a stir-fry.

Cardamom

Cardamom grows wild in India, Ceylon and Malaysia, and has been used by healers in those regions much like ginger, as a digestive aid. A 2008 study published in the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” confirmed cardamom’s use for gastrointestinal ailments such as diarrhea, colic and constipation, and also its benefits for lowering blood pressure in laboratory animals. Cardamom adds flavor to everything from sweet potatoes and squash to pastries. Combined with cinnamon, cloves and ginger, cardamom makes a delicious and good-for-you chai tea.

Coriander

India is one of the world’s main producers of coriander, a spice that has been in use for at least 7,000 years, according to “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.” The fresh leaves of this spice are called cilantro; the dried seeds are sold ground or whole in supermarkets. Like other Indian spices, coriander gains its fame for its anti-inflammatory properties and aid to digestion. But one study, published in the “Journal of Environmental Biology” in 2008, found that coriander seeds also lowered LDL, or “bad” cholesterol in rats, while also raising HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels. A 2011 study published in the “Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences” concluded the antioxidants in coriander seeds help relieve oxidative stress in diabetes patients – leading researchers to recommend coriander as part of the dietary therapy for this condition.

Turmeric/Curcumin

This is the king of spices when it comes to dealing with cancer diseases, besides it adding a zesty colour to our food on the platter. Turmeric contains the powerful polyphenol Curcumin that has been clinically proven to retard the growth of cancer cells causing prostrate cancer, melanoma, breast cancer, brain tumour, pancreatic cancer and leukemia amongst a host of others. Curcumin promotes ‘Apoptosis’- (programmed cell death/cell suicide) that safely eliminates cancer breeding cells without posing a threat to the development of other healthy cells. In cases of conventional radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the surrounding cells too become a target in addition to the cancer cells. Therefore, the side-effects are imminent.

 

Fennel

Armed with phyto-nutrients and antioxidants, cancer cells have nothing but to accept defeat when the spice is fennel. ‘Anethole’, a major constituent of fennel resists and restricts the adhesive and invasive activities of cancer cells. It suppresses the enzymatic regulated activities behind cancer cell multiplication. A tomato-fennel soup with garlic or fresh salads with fennel bulbs make for an ideal entree prior to an elaborate course meal. Roasted fennel with parmesan can be another star pick.

 

Saffron

A natural carotenoid dicarboxylic acid called ‘Crocetin’ is the primary cancer-fighting element that saffron contains. It not only inhibits the progression of the disease but also decreases the size of the tumour by half, guaranteeing a complete goodbye to cancer. Though it is the most expensive spice in the world for it is derived from around 250,000 flower stigmas (saffron crocus) that make just about half a kilo, a few saffron threads come loaded with benefits you won’t regret paying for. Saffron threads can be used in various ways:

Cumin

Yes, it aids digestion and probably that is why we like chewing a handful of cumin seeds at the end of every meal. However, its health benefits go beyond. A portent herb with anti-oxidant characteristics, cumin seeds contain a compound called ‘Thymoquinone’ that checks proliferation of cells responsible for prostate cancer. So, instead of loading your usual snack options with calories and oil, add this seasoning to your bread, fried beans or sauce and make the dish rich in flavour and high on health. You can rediscover the magic of cumin in your regular bowl of tadka dal and rice too!

(Content Credit- healthyeating and timesofindia)

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