Indian spices – health benefits – Part 1

We come across a whole lot of spices in Indian cooking. These traditional Indian spices lend a  delectable and unique flavor to food.  These popular Indian spices have many health benefits in addition to being excellent immunity boosters. An Indian curry is a gravy made from traditional Indian spices in addition to stock, vegetables and meat(optional). Let us check out the benefits of some commonly used Indian spices.

       Methi: Fenugreek
Indian spices - fenugreek methi seeds

Fenugreek seeds aka methi seeds are used in the preparation of pickles, curry powders and in tempering (tadka in hindi). Fenugreek seeds are bitter and so must be used in small amounts while cooking. They impart a wonderful aroma to the food when used for tempering.

Health benefits of Methi

  • Methi seeds are an excellent source of  amino-acid 4-hydroxy isoleucine which supports healthy blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. Fiber present in Methi seeds reduces rate of glucose absorption in the intestines thereby controlling blood sugar levels. Boil a glass of water with a tablespoon of methi seeds. Allow this to cool down till warm and drink. Blood sugar levels can be controlled with regular use of methi seeds.
  • It is a good remedy for sore throat, cough and mouth ulcers. Boil 2 glasses of water with 1 tsp of methi seeds. Let this water cool till it is suitable for gargling. Gargling with methi boiled water provides relief from mouth ulcers, sore throat and cough.
  • Regular use of methi seeds in cooking improves appetite and aids digestion.
  • Use of Methi seeds increases milk production in nursing mothers and addresses the problem of insufficient lactation.

Zeera: Cumin seeds
Indian spices - cumin seeds

Cumin  seeds  or Zeera are used as whole for tempering and in powdered form to lend a unique flavor to curries, snacks, dals, dips, raitas etc.

Health benefits:

  • Cumin is excellent for flatulence,indigestion and morning sickness.
  • It is rich in iron and is good for people with anemia.
  • Cumin helps build immunity against common colds and flu.
  • Cumin has anti fungal and disinfectant properties. Cumin paste is used as treatment for skin disorders.

Dhania:Coriander

Indian spices - coriander seeds

Coriander – dhania is mostly coarsely ground or finely powdered before use, depending on the texture you desire!

Health benefits:

  • Coriander seeds lower blood sugar and bad cholestrol(LDL) levels.
  • Coriander seeds are a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium and iron.
  • Coriander is aids digestion and eliminates flatulence.
  • Coriander juice, mixed with a pinch of turmeric powder cures  blackheads  and pimples.

Laung: Clove

Indian spices - cloves

 Cloves – laung are used whole in several curries, pilafs and biryanis. Cloves are used in powdered form in combination with other spices for different types of masalas like Garam Masala. Ideally cloves must not be powdered and used alone, as clove powder loses aroma over time.

Health benefits:

  • Clove oil has analgesic or pain relieving properties. It provides relief from sore gums and tooth ache.
  • Clove oil  is  antiseptic in nature. It is used for relief from  cuts, wounds,fungal infections and bruises.
  • Cloves have digestive properties. Cloves provide relief from flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

More on Indian spices coming up in Part 2.