Nutrition

Christmas Spices | Surprising Health Benefits

Written by Alex Simpson


Surprising Health Benefits Of Your Favourite Christmas Spices


One of the best things about Christmas is the wonderful scents and smells that we associate with this time of year. When we think of Christmas, of course we think of food, drink, parties, and generally having fun, and whilst many typical Christmas snacks can hardly be considered healthy, many of the typical ingredients that you find contained within them, are not only healthy, but some experts believe they should be classed as superfoods.

There is just something about the spices used in Christmas foods and drinks that warm the body and the soul, and even those of you with a poor sense of smell, will instantly recognise the wonderful aromas of typical Christmas spices as they quickly fill up your kitchen and soon after the rest of your home as well. Typical Christmas spices include: Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger, to name a few, and whilst they work in synergy together to make fantastic mulled wine, mince pies, and Christmas puddings, they also happen to provide very substantial health benefits in the process. Here’s a look at how those delicious spices in your Christmas snacks could be healing your body in the process.


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Cinnamon

 

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without cinnamon, as this wonderful spice is used in so many delicious Christmas foods and snacks that it is impossible to smell this spice, and not associate it with the festive period. Not only does this wonderful spice smell and taste fantastic, it also happens to provide very substantial medicinal properties. Cinnamon has been used for medicinal purposes for literally thousands of years, and it is still a staple ingredient in many alternative medicinal practices. Some of the main health benefits of cinnamon include:

 

Rich in antioxidants – This spice is loaded full of antioxidants and polyphenols that help to prevent oxidative stress and damage within the body, and subsequently protect our cells from free radicals, which could potentially cause cancer, and other serious diseases. The antioxidant content in cinnamon is so profound in fact, that cinnamon can be used as a natural preservative.

 

Anti-inflammatory – Another key benefit of cinnamon is the fact that it functions as a powerful anti-inflammatory, which helps to lower the risk of disease and chronic joint pain.

 

Lowers LDL cholesterol – A number of clinical studies conducted over the years, have all found that cinnamon can actually lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as blood triglycerides, and increase total HDL (good) cholesterol amounts. Just 120mg per day has been found to be beneficial, and as you know, low LDL cholesterol means a healthy cardiovascular system.


cinnamon


Ginger 

 

Ginger is of course commonly used in gingerbread (shock horror) and is another staple ingredient used in many traditional Christmas recipes. Some of its main health benefits however, include:

 

Relieves muscle pain – Many bodybuilders have now started consuming ginger after their workouts, due to the fact that it contains properties which are thought to relieve muscle pain and soreness, including the dreaded DOMS. This is down to the fact that ginger provides substantial anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Anti-inflammatory – Just like cinnamon, ginger also provides anti-inflammatory benefits for the human body, which can reduce your chances of illness and disease, whilst simultaneously easing sore and stiff muscles.


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Nutmeg

 

If you’re a fan of eggnog, bread sauce, and various other foods and drinks consumed around Christmas, chances are you’ll be a fan of nutmeg. This spice has been used for centuries upon centuries, with potential benefits including:

 

Boosts immunity – Nutmeg is packed full of vitamins and trace minerals that have been found to boost the immune system. In particular, nutmeg is rich in: manganese, magnesium, potassium, and iron, and calcium.

 

Improved circulation – Another key benefit of nutmeg is the fact that it has been found to increase circulation. This in turn helps to increase energy levels and nutrient transportation around the body. The primary reason for this is the fact that nutmeg is rich in potassium.


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Cloves

 

Cloves add a wonderful depth and flavour to a variety of festive foods, although if you’ve accidentally eaten one whole, you may dispute this fact. As a natural background flavouring however, cloves are wonderful, especially in bread sauce. Health benefits of cloves include:

 

Aids in digestion – Cloves contain natural compounds that have been found to aid in digestion as they help to smooth down the GI tract lining, and speeds up the breakdown of food. This in turn also enhances nutrient absorption rates.

 

Nutrient-dense – Cloves are nutrient superfood ingredients as they are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In particular, cloves are a great source of B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin A, and zinc. These nutrients play crucial roles in countless metabolic processes within the human body.


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References

 

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye has a MSc in Sport Physiology and Nutrition, and puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. She enjoys a pun, and in her spare time loves dog walking and eating out.


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