If your taste buds are craving a spicy kick, reach no further than the curry powder. But did you know? You’re also getting a dash of health-boosting nutrients with each sprinkle!
Curry is a blend of exotic spices, most notably turmeric, cumin, cloves, coriander, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. Some curries are also concocted with garlic, sweet basil, black pepper, bay leaves, mustard, fenugreek, and fennel. These spices have been celebrated for their anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties… and have been linked to cancer and heart disease prevention, and immune system and bone health. Let’s explore the nutrient profiles of curry’s most treasured spices.
Turmeric is loaded with curcumin, an antioxidant compound that gives the spice its yellow-orange pigment. Curcumin also lends cancer-protective, inflammation-alleviating, and immune-enhancing benefits to turmeric.
Bone health: animal studies suggest that curcumin can help accelerate bone repair, regrowth, and connectivity, and potentially help decrease bone loss by as much as 50%!
Alzheimer’s disease: turmeric can help the immune system destroy the amino acids responsible for forming the plaque that accumulates in the brain’s neural pathways and greatly contributes to diminished brain function. Check out some studies here.
Cancer: studies show that curcumin can help subdue inflammation by suppressing the production of molecules that incite inflammation. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, when rats introduced to cancer-promoting substances were also given turmeric, they were safe from colon, stomach, and skin cancers. It appears that turmeric/curcumin can inhibit the replication of in vitro tumor cells, and confers protective benefits against pancreatic cancer.
Smell the earthy scent of cumin and pow(!); you’ve just activated saliva enzymes in your mouth and set the digestive process into motion. Cumin can also help boost weight loss and fat burning!
Cumin is an “anti”-rich spice, noted for its anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It’s rich in the compound thymoquinone, which numerous studies suggest can help squelch cancers of the colon, blood, prostate, liver, lung, breast, kidney, cervix, and skin.
Cloves are loaded with iron, fiber, vitamin K, and manganese, a mineral that promotes robust bones, radiant skin, healthy blood sugar levels, and free radical protection. In fact, cloves have the highest percentage of manganese of any food on the planet!
Cloves also have a high concentration of eugenol—an oil that helps defend against environmental pollutants. Studies indicate that eugenol possesses potent anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory capabilities.
Otherwise known as cilantro seeds, coriander is full of fiber, magnesium, manganese, iron, and calcium. It’s a palliative spice for digestion, helping to relieve gas, diarrhea, and nausea. Coriander has also been linked to blood pressure control and skin health.
Coriander and cilantro are highly praised as detoxifying agents. Studies show that coriander can help neutralize oxidative damage from lead toxicity and even counteract poisoning. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that coriander had double the effectiveness of the popular salmonella antibiotic gentamicin at treating salmonella.
Looking for fresher breath or a way to help heal gum disease or soothe a scratchy, irritated throat? Cardamom is the spice of choice! Cardamom has also been shown to help lower blood pressure, and protect against the risk of cardiovascular disease and associated events such as heart attack and stroke. In a 2009 study published in the Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics researchers concluded: “…cardamom effectively reduces blood pressure, enhances fibrinolysis and improves antioxidant status, without significantly altering blood lipids and fibrinogen levels in stage 1 hypertensive individuals.”
According to a 2010 study from the Journal of Medicinal Food, cardamom can help strengthen the effectiveness of natural killer cells, encourage a healthy immune response, and defend against cancer.
Known for its powerful effects against nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness, ginger can also help alleviate inflammation-related symptoms, such as those associated with osteoarthritis. Because ginger helps to clear the lining of your digestive tract of accumulated toxins and waste, symptoms such as bloating and constipation are mitigated. Ginger also appears to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Saudi Medical Journal published a study linking 3 grams of ginger taken for 45 days to lower cholesterol.
Like ginger, cinnamon treats diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, but with some brain-boosting benefits thrown in for good measure. Studies show cinnamon can help stimulate brain activity, accelerate visual-motor response, and jumpstart memory and concentration, especially among the elderly.
Contraindications of Curry
Curry is an anti-coagulant, so check with your doctor before cooking with curry if you are currently on blood thinners. Curry can also irritate the gallbladder in those with gallbladder issues, such as gallstones.