Cayenne powder comes from ground, dried red-hot chilli peppers. The active compound, capsaicin, is a key ingredient in several prescription and over-counter creams for arthritis and muscle pain. Adding a liberal dash of cayenne to soups, stews and stir-fries can help ease cold and flu congestion as it shrinks swollen blood vessels. It may even help trim your waistline by revving your metabolism up a notch.
This Indian spice has been used to treat maladies since ancient times. Curcumin is a key compound in turmeric, and a potent antioxidant with the potential to treat tumour growth and suppress enzymes that trigger abnormal cell changes. It’s also being studied for treating arthritis, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Get more turmeric into your diet by eating curried dishes, sipping on turmeric tea and/or taking a daily extract.
Divine in baked treats, sprinkled over cereal or in your latte, this gloriously aromatic spice also packs a powerful healing punch. It contains high amounts of manganese, a trace mineral that’s good for your heart. Research indicates cinnamon also helps regulate blood sugar – good news for diabetics – and it has strong antibacterial and antiinflammatory cred too.
Pop two fresh cinnamon quills into a resealable plastic bag and inhale the aroma whenever you need help staying focused and alert. Aside from smelling great, the scent is believed to boost brain and memory function. Can’t get too much of that!
Stored correctly, dried spices can last up to four years. Whole spices (peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, cloves) tend to last longer than ground.
For maximum freshness, store in a tightly closed container in a cool, dry place away from light and heat. Avoid dipping damp spoons into containers.
Do the ‘smell test’ to check for freshness. The aroma should waft right out of the container to greet you. If you have to stick your nose right in to get a whiff, toss it.