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From Haldi To Ajwain: Health Benefits Of 4 Traditional Indian Spices, Nutritionist Shares Wellness Secrets

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The diverse spice combinations used in Indian cuisine are well known for giving each dish a unique flavour profile as well as a host of health advantages that have long been acknowledged by traditional Indian medicine. The taste, aroma, and overall attractiveness of Indian food are greatly influenced by the spices used in it, which range from the pungent heat of chilli peppers to the aromatic sweetness of cinnamon.  

India has an ancient tradition of using a variety of spices in culinary preparations. Besides taste in today’s era, we have forgotten its medicinal usages which are deeply rooted in the philosophy of Ayurveda and holistic living. Suman Agarwal, Founder & Nutritionist, SelfcarebySuman sheds some light on what these spices offer to our wellbeing: 

1. Salt: An essential for life, salt (primarily sodium chloride) is crucial in cooking and plays an extremely important role in food preservation, especially for evergreen food items present in every Indian household like achars a.k.a pickles. It allows the flavours of the other ingredients to shine. From a health perspective, salt is needed for maintaining our blood pressure and blood volume, nerve conduction and the added iodine helps the thyroid gland function smoothly. However, excessive salt intake can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.

2. Khada Masala: Often referred to as whole spices, Khada Masala is often made by slightly roasting and grinding a blend of quintessential Indian spices such as green and black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, nutmeg, black pepper, cumin, and coriander seeds, among other spices. These spices, when roasted, release their aromatic oils before being grounded or added to dishes. 

Each spice in the Khada Masala has its health benefits; cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and snoops sugar reducing properties and can help better insulin sensitivity and therefore, PCOS-like symptoms, on the other hand, clove is said to have anti-cancerous properties and is good for oral hygiene. Lastly, nutmeg is particularly good to help in inducing sound sleep. 

3. Turmeric (Curcumin): Turmeric contains the active compound curcumin, which is now famous for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties often featured outside India in ‘turmeric lattes’ a.k.a our age-old cough cold remedy ‘haldi doodh’. It is an ingredient present in every Indian household and used daily in Indian cooking not only for its flavour but also for its health benefits. 

Curcumin due to its anti-inflammatory properties can reduce the risk of heart disease and has been studied for its potential in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. However, curcumin has low bioavailability, which means consuming it with black pepper, which contains piperine, can significantly enhance its absorption.

4. Ajwain: Ajwain aids in digestive issues greatly, due to the phenolic compound called thymol, which enhances digestive enzymes. When boiled in water to make an herbal tea it improves digestion, can relieve acidity and significantly reduces bloating, especially helpful post-pregnancy.

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