When you think of holiday flavors, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger likely come to mind. Not only do these spices add flavor to desserts, sides, teas and main dishes, they’re also good for your health.
Many common spices provide a concentrated dose of antioxidants and have other benefits, including the following:
Adding cinnamon to drinks and dishes can also help you cut down on your overall sugar intake — not an easy feat when you’re bombarded by holiday goodies.
“Cinnamon adds a little bit of natural sweetness, so you can cut down on the sugar,” she says.
Ginger is another sweeter spice that can serve as a partial sugar replacement. It also has gastrointestinal benefits, says Dr. Parr.
“A lot of people have GI issues like nausea or acid reflux around the holidays because of all the different types of food that they’re not used to eating. Ginger can cut down on some of this,” she says.
Cloves have antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties.
“Around the holidays when upper respiratory infections are more common, it’s a good idea to add cloves to the cooking,” says Dr. Parr.
Nutmeg also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it may help improve cardiovascular health. However, Dr. Parr advises moderation, as consuming more than 2 teaspoons can be harmful to adults, and the threshold is even lower for children, with toxicity occurring at doses as small as 1 to 2 mg/kg.
This content appeared in San Diego Health, a publication in partnership between Scripps and San Diego Magazine that celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.