People always talk about the change in weather when fall rolls around; but have you ever noticed that fall seems to have it’s own flavor? As summer comes to an end, citrus and watermelon move aside for cinnamon, spice, and everything nice. Notes of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves begin to pop up everywhere. While all each one of these typical fall spices gets your taste buds jumping for joy, their benefits go way beyond flavor. Spices contain powerful compounds that improve your physical health.
Inflammation gets a bad rap, but it’s actually an important physiological response that helps protect your body from infection and helps fight tissue damage. It’s only when inflammation becomes chronic, which can happen from a bad diet, lots of stress, or leaky gut (to name a few), that it becomes a problem.
Cinnamon is packed with powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation and lower the risk of diseases related to inflammation, like heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease. The antioxidants in cinnamon also protect the body from free radicals—unstable compounds that cause physical damage to your DNA that can lead to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Cinnamon may also improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
A specific compound in cinnamon, called CEppt, contains properties that can halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and the growth of the plaques on the brain connected to it.
Like cinnamon, nutmeg has antioxidant properties that fight inflammation and damage from free radicals. Nutmeg goes a step further by helping ease digestive symptoms like gas, nausea, and diarrhea. It also contains a natural compound called myristicin that can protect your brain from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
According to tradition, the reason our bodies crave nutmeg as the weather starts to cool down is because it helps warm up and can fight off colds and stomachaches, which are more common in the fall and winter.
Cloves are anti-fungal, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiseptic and loaded with antioxidants. They’re also a good source of manganese, a mineral that helps metabolize carbohydrates and fats, regulates blood sugar, and keeps blood clotting normally.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, cloves help relieve sore throats and act as an expectorant, or a compound that helps you cough up excess phlegm and mucus.
One of the most well-known effects of ginger is its ability to relieve nausea. It’s often used for seasickness, morning sickness during pregnancy, and even nausea following chemotherapy. In addition to soothing an upset stomach, ginger may help alleviate chronic indigestion.
Ginger is also a powerful pain reliever and blood regulator. In one study, ginger dramatically lowered both fasting blood sugar and A1c levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Ginger may also help prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and oral inflammatory diseases, like gingivitis and periodontitis.
Although it’s not as well-known as the previous four spices, cardamom has been used in both cooking and medicine for centuries. Cardamom is rich in antioxidants that protect against heart disease and cancer and it can lower blood pressure.
The sweet spice also has antimicrobial properties, so it can boost your immune system and help fight off unwanted bacteria and fungi, a property that is ideal during the cooler fall and winter months.