Using winter spices as medicine

Spices are fragrant and delicious, and they are right at the heart of so many great winter dishes. But there are some fabulous healthy side-effects to spices that make winter better. Here is an inside look to how tantalising your taste buds also benefits your body:

Cinnamon – you love it on pancakes, in chai tea and many stews and soups, but cinnamon is more than its comforting flavour. Cinnamon keeps your brain sharp, may impact bad cholesterol and helps to bring relief from arthritis.

Garlic – there are so many dishes that couldn’t happen without some crushed garlic, but this flavoursome bulb may also boost your immune system and help to improve circulation. Which means warmer feet.

Ginger is a vital part of so many curries, stir-fries and as an accompaniment to sushi, but this is truly a super-spice! Ginger improves circulation, and helps with digestive issues – it’s also a natural antiseptic and antioxidant.

Cloves may make you think of Christmas cake, but they’re used in apple pies, chicken dishes and curries. Cloves improve blood circulation, help to clear your respiratory passages, and keep your digestive system healthy – add a clove to ‘gas-causing’ foods such as beans or cauliflower and: no gas!

Cardamom is a fragrant part of some curries, teas and desserts, but it is also good for your respiratory tract, keep you feeling energetic! Enjoy it in tea, pop a pod of it when cooking rice, or add it to baked squash or pumpkin soup.

Black pepper may seem ordinary, but you’d miss it if you didn’t have it! Beside the flavour it brings to food, black pepper boosts appetite, improves your digestion and may help to with chest congestion.

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Cumin seeds: rare used in boerewors, burgers and are ground up into powder for using on roasted butternut and in many other dishes. Cumin is a great taste-bud stimulator and is good for helping you get through a cold.

Lastly, cayenne pepper is rich in vitamin C and helps relieve congestion. So, cook up something spicy for everyone tonight – it will taste good and leave them feeling good!

Joanne Hart for