Herbs and spices can stabilise the blood sugar and energise, detoxify and warm up the body. They add an abundance of flavour to your eve- ryday cooking and are full of goodness. Studies even show that spices can boost your metabolism. Here’s a round-up of YogaLife’s favourite spices to help you maintain a healthy body weight
1 BLACK PEPPER
Black pepper contains a substance called piperine, which not only gives it its pungent flavour, but also blocks the formation of new fat cells. When combined with capsaicin (the active component of chili peppers) and other substances, black pepper has been found to burn as many calories as taking a 20-minute walk. It also increases the absorption of just about all other nutrients, making it a healthy boost for virtually any meal. Spice up your plate!
Ginseng is valued for its ability to boost energy levels and the metabolism. Panax ginseng, in particular, has been linked to weight loss benefits, with one study showing obese, diabetic mice given panax ginseng extracts not only had improvements in insulin sensitivity, but also lost a significant amount of weight after 12 days.
3 CAYENNE PEPPER
Capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their heat, may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue and lowering blood fat levels, as well as fighting fat buildup by triggering protein changes in your body. Part of the benefit may be due to its heat potential, as it is a thermogenic substance that may temporarily increase thermogenesis in your body (your body burns fat to create heat, with beneficial impacts on metabolism and fat storage). Research suggests that consuming thermogenic ingredients may boost your metabolism by up to 5 per cent and increase fat burning by up to 16 per cent.
This spice may help to boost your metabolism and it also has impressive benefits for blood sugar regulation, making it an ideal seasoning for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Cinnamon has been found to significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes, as well as increase glucose metabolism by about 20 times, which would significantly improve your ability to regulate blood sugar.
The mustard plant is actually in the cruciferous family of vegetables (along with broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts). Mustard seeds have been shown to boost metabolic rate by 25 per cent, which means you’ll burn calories more efficiently. In fact, just three teaspoons of mustard seeds daily may help you burn an extra 45 calories an hour. Pile on seeds, pile off fat.
Ginger is a warming spice that has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to help soothe the intestinal tract. Research suggests that ginger may have thermogenic properties that help boost the metabolism, as well as having an appetite-suppressant effect when consumed, suggesting a potential role of ginger in weight management.
This yellow-orange spice is used in most curries. Curcumin, one of turmeric’s most thoroughly studied active ingredients, reduces the formation of fat tissue by suppressing the blood vessels needed to form it, and therefore may contribute to lower body fat and body weight gain. Curcumin may also help in the treatment of obesity-related chronic diseases, as the interactions of curcumin with several pathways in the body result in improvements in insulin resistance, hyperglycemia and other inflammatory symptoms associated with obesity and metabolic disorders.
Cardamom, an aromatic spice with a spicy-sweet flavor, is another thermogenic herb that helps boost your metabolism and may boost your body’s ability to burn fat. Cardamom is a popular herb used in Ayurveda, the ancient holistic system of medicine and natural healing from India. The little pods are added to rices, curries and even sweet dishes to boost flavour.
Cumin is useful for digestion and energy production, and may improve glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes. The spice has a long history of medicinal use, and has also been found to enhance memory and provide potent anti-stress benefits.
EXPERT TIP: “Aim for 10,000 antioxidant units a day”, says celebrity nutritionist Patrick Holford. “ORACs (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) measure the antioxidant rating of different foods.” Holford recommends turmeric, cinnamon, and black pepper. “A quarter of a teaspoon of turmeric represents 2,000 ORACs; four pieces of 70 per cent dark chocolate has 2,000 ORACs.” Yes, you heard it here first: chocolate is good for you…