This monthly health columns is by a practicing cardiologist, clinical professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity in Bingham Farms. He's an author and has appeared on national TV, including "Dr. Oz" and "The Doctors Show."
By Dr. Joel Kahn
Want to take a significant step toward improving your health and nutrition, be able to start today, and spend only $10?
As a cardiologist dealing with patients suffering from hardening of the arteries and other diseases of poor nutrition and inflammation, I suggest that you would be wise to buy the following three spice bottles and use them liberally.
1. Apple Pie Spice
In my home this bottle gets used in smoothies, on cereals, in coffee and on fruit. This powerhouse mix usually has cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. By sprinkling this tasty and sugar-free mix on your food and drink you can boost the antioxidant level of meals tremendously.
Antioxidants work to reverse the “rusting” and aging effects of stress and toxins on your arteries and other organs. In a study of more than 3,100 food items, cloves were the top antioxidants among the many herbs and spices studied.
In addition to cloves, cinnamon helps balance your blood sugar and decreases bad cholesterol; allspice lowers blood pressure and may relieve menopause symptoms; and nutmeg may prevent wrinkles, lower cholesterol, treat depression and improve memory.
2. Italian Seasoning Mix
The ingredients of my bottle of these green flakes resembles a Simon and Garfunkel tune: oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage. In the same study that ranked cloves at the top of the herb and spice antioxidant list, all the components of the Italian Mix fared well in antioxidant activity.
Oregano contains carvacrol and thymol that have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. This herb may calm the stomach, prevent food poisoning and treat our livers.
Marjoram has the same two active components of oregano and a third, ursolic acid, that act to slow the rate of Alzheimer’s disease, thin the blood to prevent heart attacks and aid digestion.
Thyme has anti-inflammatory properties and shows activity that is anti-aging and may protect DNA from transforming to cancer growth. It may also prevent clotting of blood. Basil may act as an “adaptogen” making it easier to cope with stress.
Rosemary has been known since the time of Shakespeare to improve memory, and added to grilled foods may lessen the production of chemicals that promote aging and cancer. Finally, sage may slow the buildup of plaque in arteries and has been used for centuries to improve memory.
3. Curry Powder
There are many blends of this potent Indian mix but the bottle in my kitchen contains coriander, cumin, turmeric, chili pepper, ginger, cardamom, mustard, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper and saffron. I will let you read about 10 of the components on your own but a few words of praise for turmeric. This yellow spice has been considered a healer in Indian cooking for ages. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due to its main chemical, curcumin.
There are now thousands of research studies in animals and humans showing health benefits for turmeric and curcumin in medical illness ranging from heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
Turmeric has a powerful ability to lower cholesterol. Many of my colleagues share my view that if I could take only one spice to a desert island, it would be turmeric. This mix is very tasty on salads, soups and vegetables.
So get started today. Add spices to your meals, make them colorful and zesty, and take advantage of the bounty of natural healing compounds, the original farmacy. Be sure to buy fresh spice bottles and throw away the 10-year old ones in your pantry. They lose their health benefits after a year. If you can, buy organic versions of the spices.