This holiday season is in full swing and that means one thing: food! From delicious sugar cookies to holiday hams, pumpkin pie to egg nog, the festive foods of the season take prime spot. Of course, what’s those foods without their delicious spices and herbs that make them so much better? And these great seasonings not only make your favorite holidays foods delicious, but also have their own health and nutritional benefits.
Rosemary is a pine-flavored, pungent herb that can be perfectly baked in bread, thrown in some mashed potatoes, or the quintessential holiday favorite, roast beef. Not just for flavoring, rosmarinic acid (RA), a compound found in rosemary, also aids in digestive problems like heartburn and internal gas in a variety of models. Additionally, RA exhibits neuroprotective effects in different models of inflammation in the nervous system. And it even carries a little bit of nutritional benefits like vitamin A.
Taking its lead in the holiday favorite gingerbread, ginger is not only great in desserts, but also works well in soups, meats, vegetables, and much more. Varieties include fresh, ground, and oil. Ginger has various gastrointestinal benefits and can be used to treat nausea, upset stomach, and motion sickness. In a recent clinical trial, ginger consumption has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and lipid profiles in patients with type 2 diabetes. An extra benefit? Ginger also provides some iron and magnesium.
There’s nothing more festive than the red and white candy cane. Chalked with peppermint, it’s the candy of season being passed out at holiday parties and even as presents. While peppermint oil is used to make the candy cane, fresh peppermint can be added to teas, salads, and even on top of a fresh bowl of fruit. Not only does it contain fiber and vitamin A, some studies even suggest that it can help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Often the sidekick to pumpkin, cinnamon can be found in many different foods and beverages. From apple cider to sweet potato pie, cinnamon is also delicious sprinkled on toast and in some yogurt. Research has suggested that cinnamon may help regulate blood sugar levels and improve fasting blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Scientists are still looking to find more conclusive evidence, but cinnamon does pack a whopping 4.1 g of fiber per tablespoon. While a tablespoon may seem like a lot, if you add a teaspoon or two to your coffee or afternoon yogurt, it’s not too hard to reach that amount. Also, cinnamon contains calcium, iron, and magnesium.