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Anti-inflammatory spices can add new flavors to your daily menu and help you stay in good physical and mental shape. And in the long run, they can help ward off today’s major diseases, from digestive distress and depression to weight problems, diabetes, and heart disease.
Appealing as such benefits are, the thought of incorporating unfamiliar spices into your diet can be overwhelming. But mixing a couple of spice blends—and keeping them in your kitchen—makes it easy to experience different tastes while enhancing your health.
“What matters most is variety and consistency rather than the quantity of one ingredient,” says Stefania Patinella, chef, integrative health coach, and coauthor of The Anti-inflammatory Family Cookbook.
A study led by researchers at the University of California San Diego looked at diets and microbiome samples of more than 11,000 people. Scientists found that those who eat a greater variety of plant species have more diverse, healthier microbiomes. This holds true regardless of the type of diet—with or without meat or fish.
Spice blends are a realistic way to add diversity to your diet—Patinella’s Basic Anti-Inflammatory Blend and Sweet Anti-Inflammatory Blend (recipes below) contain 10 different plant foods. And, she says, they’re strategically formulated. All the spices deliver documented anti-inflammatory health benefits. The combinations follow cultural traditions and add interesting flavors. And the ingredients are widely available.
How to Use Spice Blends
“You don’t have to change your regular meals,” says Patinella. Once you’ve made the blends, it’s easy to grab one from your shelf and turn an everyday food into something special.
Let’s say you like oatmeal in the morning. It’s more interesting with the sweet spice blend. Or add the savory blend to eggs, vegetables, or grain dishes. The possibilities are endless.
Basic Anti-Inflammatory Blend
Makes 2½ Tbs.
Use this blend to season roasted veggies, beans, grains, and soups, or as a rub for meat or fish.
2 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp. ginger powder
Combine spices in a jar and mix well.
Sweet Anti-Inflammatory Blend
Makes 2½ Tbs.
This blend adds flavor to naturally sweet foods such as granola, chocolate fondue, or any sweet dish. And it turns comfort foods and drinks, such as oatmeal, hot cocoa, or any herbal tea, into special treats—without added calories.
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground clove
1/2 tsp. ground star anise