They define taste, describe different gastronomic cultures, and add a unique touch that makes each recipe special. We are talking about all the wonderful spices that possess a world of aromas and colors and will help your diet become more varied and exotic.
Spices, which are usually leaves from bushes or small plants, have been used for many centuries. In the beginning, they were used to preserve foods and also as a form of money, since they were exchanged for other goods. In the 15th century, spices were divided into 2 large groups: the ones that modify the flavor or appearance of foods and the ones that stimulate people’s palate.
Among the first are: cinnamon, saffron, vanilla, oregano, basil, fennel, rosemary, thyme, ginger, paprika, mint, cumin, and coriander. On the other hand, among the ones that produce a stimulating physiological reaction are: common pepper, cayenne pepper, different kinds of chilies, nutmeg, and cloves. None of these spices provide specific nutrients or calories to the body.
However, new studies are showing that spices could be preventive health agents. A research team from the Superior Council of Scientific Investigations of Spain has recently proved in a study called “The Seven Spices” that cinnamon, aniseed, ginger, mint, nutmeg, licorice, and vanilla have a high antioxidant power.
Also in Spain, the University of Barcelona presented a study about the positive effect of spices over “appetite and the sympathetic nervous system.” The Kinas College of London has published another study, which concluded that the consumption of Thai aromatic curry may prevent and even relieve the symptoms of cancer. British experts have proved that “galangal” or red ginger can destroy carcinogenic cells and thus protect the body from agents that cause this disease.
In Indonesia, this type of ginger—which, by the way, they also consider as an aphrodisiac—is already being used by physicians as an alternative medical treatment against stomach cancer.
The greatest judges of international cooking have recognized that India and Mexico are two “spice paradises.” In India, the main spices are curry and “mirchi”—a type of red pepper that made Shakira, the Colombian singer, cry during her recent visit to Bombay. On the other hand, Mexico possesses a huge variety of chilli powders.
Do not hesitate to open your mind and palate to the new, different tastes of spices. But before buying them, make sure they don’t contain hazardous additives or colorings, such as “Yellow 5,” which is a highly allergenic substance.
Many of the countries that export aromatic herbs belong to the group of so-called developing countries. To protect these countries, as well as their final consumers, an international group was founded with the main goal of controlling the manufacturing process of spices, in order to make sure that the final product is the fine delicacy that makes a significant difference in the flavors of dishes around the world.
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