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Friday, June 6, 2008

Look Younger! This Herb Fights Aging

Did you know you can spice up your diet to fight cancer, lower your blood pressure and even look younger?

It's long been known that certain spices, such as basil, oregano and garlic, will help you fight cancer, lower blood pressure and even maintain a healthy weight. That's not all! Regularly sprinkling rosemary on your favorite dishes will fight aging and help you to look younger, according to Suzanna Zick, a naturopathic physician and researcher with the University of Michigan Health System.

Using more herbs and spices and fewer traditional seasonings like sugar, salt and fat, can help to improve the overall health benefits--and flavor--of the foods we eat every day.

To help add a dash of "spice" to your life, Zick offers these tips for picking the best spices for your overall health.

  • Instead of salt, use herbs. Common herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley and garlic can really bring out the natural flavors in a meal. Replace salt with a tasty combination of basil and oregano on food.
  • Fight aging by eating foods seasoned with rosemary. Rosemary is one of nature's most powerful antioxidants. It's also thought to help with memory, and research is currently underway to determine rosemary's potential cancer-prevention properties.
  • Use fresh garlic for maximum benefit. Garlic appears to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. "For maximum benefit, you need to have about three medium cloves of garlic per day," says Zick.
  • Basil, oregano and rosemary can help fight colds. Since these three herbs contain strong essential oils, Zick says they potentially can fight colds and flu. "All three are powerful antioxidants as well," she notes.
  • Treat chronic coughs with thyme. "The health benefits of thyme are unique. It has been traditionally used to treat coughs, even whooping cough. Thyme is often drunk as a tea," she says.
  • Have back pain? Eat curry. Research has shown that the substance commonly found in turmeric--a common, bright red spice added to curry mixes--has known anti-inflammatory properties. The substance, curcumin, works in a very similar way to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Fight cancer: Eat more curry. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, research on curcumin has also shown it to shrink pre-cancerous lesions known as colon polyps. Zick says the amount needed for its health benefits is unclear so she suggests including a generous helping of curry or turmeric in a meal.
  • Lower your blood pressure with "warming spices." These include ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, cayenne pepper and others. These can make a person feel warm because they bring blood from the center of the body to the skin. This disperses blood throughout the body more evenly, which may decrease blood pressure, according to Zick.
  • Soothe your aching tummy with ginger. Ginger contains gingerols, which decrease oxidative products in the digestive tract that cause nausea. The key is to eat real ginger and not things flavored artificially, such as ginger ale, in order to reap the most benefits.
  • Reduce the sugar, add the spice. If you need to cut back on sugar, Zick suggests adding spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to your sweet snacks instead of sugar. For instance, if you buy unsweetened applesauce, add cinnamon to give it an extra kick.
    --From the Editors at Netscape

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