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15 Most Widely Used Spices In Indian Kitchens And Their Health Effects

Widely Used Spices In Indian Kitchens

Hailed all over the world as an essential cooking ingredient, Spices hold the secret to good health due to their immense medicinal values.

Ancient India has contributed a lot to the new world. Some of the examples include Ayurveda, Astronomy, Astrology, etc. The same can be said with regards to Indian spices.

Each and every Indian spice that is used to whip up a delightful meal has an inherent health benefit associated with it, which has been documented in many traditional manuscripts.

Indian spices are known for their nutritional value and to imbibe aroma and flavor that tickles the taste buds. Some of the Indian spices packed with a bunch of health benefits are as follows:

1. Turmeric

Turmeric

Turmeric, also known as Haldi is one of the most versatile spices in India. It is a panacea in traditional Indian cooking. Turmeric belongs to the ginger family and is cultivated in many countries around the globe. For instance, Madagascar, Indonesia, China, Thailand, Peru, and India, etc.

India is the largest producer, exporter and consumer of this magical spice. One of the main reasons for this is, the large amounts of curcumin found in the turmeric grown in Indian.

It is a powerful antioxidant, immunity booster and has the qualities of being anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. Apart from this, it can also be used as a tool to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and depression.

Since ages, turmeric has been an essential ingredient to treat ailments, wounds, infections and to deal with high cholesterol. Besides being beneficial to health, turmeric also infuses a beautiful color and flavor to traditional dishes.

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2. Red Chilli Powder

Red Chilli Powder

Chillies were first introduced in Goa by the Portuguese. It then slowly expanded in the South and then spread towards the North. Chilli peppers are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals but are often supposed to be consumed in limited quantities according to Ayurveda due to its contribution towards increasing the Pitta dosha.

Red chilli is known for containing capsaicin, which is a compound that helps burn fat and increase metabolism. Capsaicin is also effective in dealing with food cravings and tiredness.

Red chilli is also very rich in Potassium which helps in relaxing blood vessels and perpetuates healthy blood pressure levels. It includes vitamin C which helps to boost our immunity and produce collagen, a protein significant in the nourishment of our hair and skin.

Red chilli powder is mainly used in every Indian household to lend warmth and colour to the dishes. It also gives a rich spicy flavor and zing to the food making it aromatic, lively and flavorful. 

3. Coriander

Coriander

Coriander is cultivated in many states of India including Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu. Coriander is also known as Dhaniya in India. This spice is the most powerful and beneficial spice to exist and used all over the world.

Coriander is usually available in fresh, dried, powdered and also in seeds form. Coriander holds healing qualities, however there’s a way to use it as a medicine.

According to Ayurveda, in order to get all the benefits from coriander seeds the coriander seeds are supposed to be atleast a year old. Coriander seeds are also used by patients suffering from Thyroid disorder.

As a matter of fact, Dhaniya is a naturally cooling herb and is easy to digest. It is quite beneficial to patients with Asthma. It is also a Tridosha-Nashak meaning it is good for all the three doshas (Vatta, Pitta, Kapha) but is not to be consumed beyond a certain limit. Dhaniya also helps keep infections away due to its antimicrobial qualities.

4. Cloves

Cloves

Cloves were first introduced in India during the 1800s and is one of the four major spices peppers, nutmeg and cinnamon being the other. It adds an immaculate flavor and also holds vast medicinal values.

Clove is an excellent element in order to maintain a glowing, smooth skin. Moreover, its buds are fragrant and help in getting rid of bad breath. As per the Ayurveda, it is believed that cloves are effective for improving metabolism, circulation, digestion and for dealing with bloating, nausea and digestive disorders.

Most of the oral hygiene products use clove oil as a key ingredient to promote dental health and to prevent bad breath. Cloves add a strong spicy flavour to any dish and balances the sweetness due to its natural bitterness and astringency. 

5. Cardamom

Cardamom

Cardamom also known as Elaichi is that one spice we can’t tolerate while eating biryani but also a spice, each plate of biryani and cup of delicious kheer is incomplete without.

Cardamom helps in enhancing the aroma of traditional Indian dishes and gives a delightful flavor to them. This exquisite spice first got cultivated in the Southern Region of India.

Cardamom is also a tridoshik spice which helps in balancing the three doshas (Vatta, Pitta, Kapha).  It is a great remedy for problems related to the lungs and stomach. When added in tea, cardamom helps in flushing out the toxins out of your body and is an excellent weapon against indigestion, gas and constipation. 

6. Cumin Seeds

Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds, popularly known as Jeera is used in most of the Indian dishes along with the combination of other spices. During the summer season, cumin water (Jaljeera) is also widely available and a go to drink to chill with. Cumin seeds work wonders for digestion.

The essential oils in cumin seeds have a calming effect and are very helpful in battling with severe anxiety, depression and insomnia. Jeera is also a great solution to loosening up mucus and phlegm in the respiratory tracts and make it easy to eliminate.

It helps in controlling any sort of inflammation caused due to allergies. Iron is an important element in our diet and cumin seeds are a perfect source of the same hence the more you include these in your diet the more you’re preventing the risk of iron deficiencies such as anemia.

Jeera also helps in the overall upliftment of your immune system. Jeera water is an amazing remedy to decrease blood sugar levels and avoid diabetes. 

7. Fenugreek seeds

Fenugreek seeds

Fenugreek seeds or Methi seeds are a great Ayurvedic remedy available in every Indian household. Methi seeds help to restrain diabetes, maintain cholesterol and blood pressure.

They also are a scalp cleanser and very helpful to treat acne. People with Vatta and Kapha constitution or prakriti can benefit a lot from this spice as they need additional heat in their body to have good health. These seeds are also anti-acid and can help prevent acidity as well. 

8. Dry Ginger

Dry Ginger

Dry Ginger also known as Saunth is an exceptional spice with many nutrients helping to aid digestion, trigger weight loss, cure headaches, etc. Ginger has always been one of the key ingredients in Ayurveda and traditional Indian cooking.

Saunth is usually taken in forms of Churan or Kadha. Moreover, it is both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Hence, a natural medicine for seasonal cold and cough. Ginger is also beneficial to prevent bloating.

It also helps in morning sickness, nausea and a great tool for weight management. Saunth is also helpful to increase metabolism in a human being. 

9. Amchur

Amchur

Amchur is Dry Mango powder. Mangoes being a seasonal fruit are always fresh only in the summers. However, people have come up with innovative ways to consume this treat throughout the year.

Some of these ways are; to freeze them and use the peel when needed to make Aamras, to make pickles and store them, and to powder them and make Amchur. Amchur is used in various dishes and often used as a seasoner just like lemon juice or lime.

It is a great remedy to enhance bowel movements, fight constipation and boost digestion. Regular consumption of Amchur also ensures overall maintenance of your digestive tract and health. It is also low in carbohydrates which makes it ideal to add in weight loss programmes.

Using amchur in your food also helps in gaining clarity in your vision and prevents eye disorders or cataracts. This spice is a powerhouse of vitamin C and will always protect you from life-threatening diseases like cancer. 

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10. Black Pepper

 Black Pepper

Black pepper, also known as the king of all spices, is an all-rounder. It promotes removal of toxins, heals and vitalizes the organs. It is also widely used as an antidote to insect bites. Black pepper is one of the three important ingredients in the Ayurvedic medicine Trikatu.

This spice is a bit pungent to taste and lighter to digest, it helps battle intestinal worms, cardiovascular disease and amps up the perception of taste. It is also very beneficial in balancing the Kapha and Vatta dosha.

People suffering from Asthma and respiratory disorders can count on this wonderful spice for treatment. Black pepper stops the formation of fat cells and is also used to induce periods in women with Amenorrhoea.

In case of hair loss caused by scalp ringworm, black pepper onion and salt can be applied to treat it. The same can be used to cure headaches. Pepper is also used to deal with tooth pain. 

11. Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Mustard seeds, commonly known as Rai or Sarso is one of the most ancient spices. Mustard seeds are also of three different variants; black, white and yellow. Mustard is mainly appreciated and used for its relieving flatulence and odour.

This ingredient is a must in most of the masalas, Sambar powder and even pickles. Mustard seeds also include a significant element called Rutin. This element is usually added to Vitamin C capsules in order to increase their impact.

A compound called Arabinogalactan is also found in these powerful seeds, which is proven to be beneficial to get rid of flus, infections, extreme liver conditions, and cold.

These seeds also contain antimicrobial and antioxidant qualities and the oil made with these seeds contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 which are excellent to deal with inflammation caused in a person’s scalp. Antifungal properties found in mustard can treat skin conditions as well. 

12. Nutmeg

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is widely known as Jaiphal. It is a seed that is usually grinded and made in a powder form, which is then used as a spice. The outer skin of the seeds is commonly known as Mace or Javitri and is also used as a spice.

Nutmeg has antidepressant properties. Hence, it helps in getting rid of stress and anxiety and depression to some extent. Since centuries, nutmeg has been used for babies to get relief from diarrhea and gas.

Due to its absorbing qualities, nutmeg works wonders in clearing throat, asthma, cough and irritable bowel syndrome as well. It is known as a cardiac tonic. Nutmeg is also used to maintain a healthy sexual health.

Naturally, nutmeg is anti-toxic and a detoxifier. It is an excellent seed to induce a perfect sleep cycle. 

13. Asafoetida

Asafoetida

Asafoetida or Hing is a spice used in almost all Indian dishes. The name Hing in Sanskrit,  means effective in a thousand ways. Hing is naturally a blood thinning agent.

It is also very good for the heart. High blood pressure patients can benefit a lot from this spice. Hing also helps in reducing bloating and restoring normal moments of the Vatta.

This spice also helps in problems like abdominal tumor, abdominal colic pain, constipation, worm infection, etc. Asafoetida is also helpful in the case of Hernia. 

14. Bay Leaf

Bay Leaf

Bay leaf is commonly known as Tej Patta. Tej patta is often used for its aroma and infusing a mint-like flavor in dishes that predominantly have a gravy base to them.

Bay leaves are a good source of both Vitamin A and C. Patients suffering from diabetes can benefit from consumption of this spice for it is helpful in maintaining blood glucose levels and secreting insulin due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Tej patta is also excellent to get rid of excess sodium and bad cholesterol in the body and hence, is good for the heart and managing blood pressure. In case of stomach ulcers, tej patta lessens the free radical damage created in the stomach cells due to it being gastroprotective.

Tej patta is also a carminative and is therefore a great addition to food if you want to stay away from bloating caused due to indigestion and accumulation of fluids in the body.

15. Ajwain

Ajwain

Ajwain (Bishop’s weed) also known as carom seeds is a very popular spice in every Indian household. Ajwain prevents toxins from forming in the digestive canal. It also restricts malabsorption and indigestion.

It also cures flatulence and works magic against constipation. Ajwain is also a great source of nutrients such as fibre, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins. They’re used in a variety of Ayurvedic medicines to treat various conditions such as mental disorders, respiratory problems and digestive problems.

Ajwain is also helpful in improving one’s appetite. These seeds include Thymol and Carvacrol, both compounds make Ajwain antifungal and antibacterial. Ajwain is also helpful to treat Arthritis. 

To conclude, all these sacred spices have been around since ages and are a powerful amalgamation of health benefits. Spices are the heart of every Indian household and make each and every dish relishing, unique and healthy. Due to their health beneficial properties, having spices is like having a pharmacy in your own kitchen. 

With such a vast list of benefits, including spices in your everyday cooking can help you stay healthy and lead a disease free life.

Also Read – Indian Spices to Boost your Immunity during Pandemic

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