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Best Spices For Healthy Cooking

Lose Weight and Become a Better Cook: 3 Nutritionist-Approved Spices

Have you ever felt like your healthy food was lacking something? Sure, grilled chicken breast and vegetables are great for you, but it can also leave a lot lacking in the taste department. If you're finding that your food is sitting on the side of bland a little more than you'd like, then you need to find the best spices. But the best in spices is as relative as the best in gas mileage — everyone says their spices are the best. That's why we got the help of culinary nutritionist Keisha Luke.

1. Garlic

We know! Garlic can be the worst thing that ever happened to our breath, but it's something that everyone should eat. According to Luke, "Whether ground into a powder or minced cloves, garlic is a great spice that packs a big punch," said Luke. "Known for its antioxidant properties, as well as anti-inflammatory properties, garlic helps to boost and maintain a healthy immune system. It is also a great digestive aid, not to mention cold and flu remedy."

Want more reasons? A 2016 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that this spice could be the key to improved heart health and other ailments. Study author Matthew J. Budoff, MD, stated that "Garlic extract can help slow the progression of atherosclerosis and reverse the early stages of heart disease."

2. Thyme

If you aren't using thyme on your protein rubs or even on your veggie dishes, you are seriously missing out. Beyond just the smell and flavor, it can add such a unique zing to any meal, especially those ones you've grown bored with! According to Luke: "Whether it is in seasoning meat, seafood, or a combination of beans, legumes and/or veggies, thyme is one of my favorite, most versatile herbs that I love to use in many of my dishes for its distinctive aromatic, medicinal characteristics," Luke said. "With its powerful antiseptic [and] antibacterial properties, a little of this herb goes a long way."

Science may not tell us that this spice is a can't-miss for flavor, but it does back it as a great addition to your healthy diet plan. A recent study published in the Journal of Lipid Research found that thyme is a great resource in fighting inflammation. In the study, people who included thyme oil in their diet saw a reduction of inflammation by almost 75 percent!

3. Turmeric

If you haven't heard about the many benefits of turmeric, you must not have an internet connection! Consider this spice your go-to for just about anything that isn't going right with your body, including stomach pain, inflammation, improved brain function, ease chronic pain, and even help against depression! According to Luke, "This versatile yellow powder is the basis of many dishes because of its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which lend itself to assist in healing the gut and providing a serious kick in flavor for any dish you can make."

Research published in British Medical Journal revealed that curcumin, a key element of turmeric, delays liver damage that usually leads to cirrhosis, a leading cause of liver failure and scarring.

Regardless what spice you do reach for, it's important to make sure the one you pick is not laden with fillers and additives. Look for spices that tout a suite of carefully selected ingredients designed to match your healthy diet (including: gluten gree, vegan, dairy free, no MSG, low sodium, no soy, no nuts, and no GMOs). Many grocery store brands won't list their full contents and can't fulfill on many dietary restrictions, so consider smaller, specialty labels that work to include fit and healthy options.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim
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