As scientists learn more about the positive effects of diet on brain health, spices and herbs are in the spotlight.
Which herbs and spices? Cinnamon, rosemary, oregano, turmeric and ginger, to name a few.
One prominent reason for the health benefits of herbs and spices is their antioxidant potency. Oxidative stress has been identified not only as one of the key risk factors for brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, but many other chronic diseases of the brain and body. Oxidative stress arises from the pollutants and toxins in our environment, and also as a natural by-product of breathing oxygen. As we age our bodies are under increasing stress from “free radicals” – our very DNA is under attack. Antioxidants from our food is the best way to combat them. We need more and more as we get older, and low-caloric, nutrient-intense sources are desirable.
Also, because herbs and spices add such wonderful flavors to food, they help us to cut back on excess salt, saturated fats, and sugar (all very bad for the brain).
Brain Healthy Spices on the Tables in Senior Living Residences’ Assisted Living Communities:
Cinnamon Makes Life Sweeter:
In a 2011 study, the first to actually test cinnamon’s direct effect on the brain, researchers concluded that cinnamon could yield potential benefits against Alzheimer’s disease. We started putting cinnamon on our dining room tables back then, as a way to reduce the use of sugar in our meals and desserts. Promising research continues to conclude that cinnamon contributes directly to brain health. It is a potent antioxidant, a natural anti-inflammatory and is effective in regulating blood sugar and reducing cholesterol, providing additional benefits for the brain. Most people enjoy its natural sweetness. Saigon Cassia is the most potent and flavorful type of cinnamon.
Recommended daily dose: 1/2 to 1 TSP. Sprinkle on sweet potato, applesauce, cereal, yogurt, toast and ice cream. Mix into coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Use as a flavor enhancer in sauces, soups, and marinades for meat, poultry and fish.
Variety Really is the “Spice of Life”:
My company’s private label Spice of Life is a blend of 18 different fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. It is nutrient rich and contains potent antioxidants, a boost to brain and body health. It was created as a tasty satisfying alternative to salt (salt is VERY bad for brain health.) You can find a salt alternative at your local grocery store, such as Trader Joe’s “21 Seasoning Salute”.
Suggested use: Sprinkle on top of salads and on side dishes such as potatoes, rice, beans and vegetables. Use as a flavor enhancer in egg dishes and in sauces, soups, stews, and marinades for meat, poultry and fish.