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The Best Spices for Your Health

Lower your cholesterol, boost your immune system and add mega flavor to your favorite dishes with these good-for-you spices.

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Cinnamon sticks and cinnamon powder on woodamphaiwan/Shutterstock

Cinnamon

When you’re craving a little sweetness, skip the added sugar and add a dash of cinnamon. This favorite spice is linked with reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels; it can also lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Try sprinkling it over your oatmeal, yogurt parfait or Cincinnati chili.

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Ginger on the boards grated and slicedpiotrszczepanekfotoart/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Ginger

If you tend to have a sensitive stomach, make ginger your new best friend. This tropical plant has been shown to help relieve nausea for morning sickness, post-surgery discomfort and even when undergoing chemotherapy. Try sipping this ginger and lemon tea to ease tummy troubles.

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Turmeric powder and fresh turmeric on wooden background.tarapong srichaiyos/Shutterstock

Turmeric

We can’t get enough of this vibrant yellow spice. Turmeric is popping up everywhere from your daily latte to hydrating face masks, and for good reason. It contains a compound called curcumin that can lower inflammation and improve brain health.

Learn all the ways turmeric can benefit your health.

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close up of black peppercorn in wooden teaspoonDrbouz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Black Pepper

Black pepper is one of those spices we forget about because it’s so common, but this humble spice packs some serious benefits. It’s rich in antioxidants and protects our cells from free radical damage. Every home chef needs this essential spice in their pantry.

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Small bowl with Garlic SpiceHandmadePictures/Shutterstock

Garlic

Not only will cooking with garlic make your entire house smell like a cozy Italian restaurant, but it could also improve your heart health. Garlic has been found to lower cholesterol, as well as make our blood vessels more flexible.

Get started with these recipes for garlic lovers.

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Whole inshell nut, cracked and nutmeg powder in a wooden bowl and spoon on old blue rustic background close-up. indian spice. rostovtsevayulia/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Nutmeg

Next time you’re buying spices, stock up on nutmeg to get your pumpkin spice fix while keeping your mouth healthy. Nutmeg has antibacterial properties to help prevent plaque buildup and cavities.

Use these money-saving tips when buying herbs and spices.

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chili pepper luchezar/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Cayenne

Spice up your life and ease pain by adding cayenne to your dishes. Cayenne contains the compound capsaicin which helps turn down the pain signals to your brain. Before you dash out to the store, check out these tips that will change the way you buy spices.

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Top view of wooden spoon full of dried oregano FotografiaBasica/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Oregano

Add hearty flavor and ward off winter germs with a generous dash of oregano in your cooking. Oregano is known to have antibacterial properties and can prevent the dreaded stomach flu. Keep a pot of oregano-rich tomato sauce simmering on the stove for a comforting weekend dinner.

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Ground cumin in a spoon and whole cumin on the wooden background.morisfoto/Shutterstock

Cumin

Cumin adds a delightful, nutty taste to many of your favorite dishes and can promote healthy digestion. It’s especially helpful for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In addition to its health benefits, cumin is a staple in these flavorful, make-your-own spice blends.

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close up of ground paprika in the glass dish on the table with few pepper seeds and garlic pieces aroundsee other similar images:Drbouz/Getty Images

Paprika

Paprika can add spicy flavor and bright color to dishes like fish, tomato sauce or chicken thighs. It’s loaded with healthy vitamins and has been linked to improved eyesight. Its antioxidants can protect your eyes and help to prevent cataracts.

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Wooden Spoon in SaffronElvira Koneva/Shutterstock

Saffron

If you’re feeling fancy, go ahead and spring for the most expensive spice you can buy: saffron. This golden spice is perfect for rice dishes like paella and is worth the cost for its rich flavor and health benefits. Saffron has been found to boost immune function and improve insomnia. Fewer colds and more sleep? Yes, please!

Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.