The exotic is becoming more familiar as food channels and YouTube cooking videos fill our screens. Once unheard-of ingredients and spices are now showing up in new recipes and amping up the favors in old favorites. Not only do these new flavors promise to delight your palate, they are also touted as healing superfoods. So how do you incorporate these fantastic new spices into your everyday fare? We’ve got three must-have spices for your pantry and a delicious recipe for each one.

Turmeric

The beautiful golden yellow color of this spice is what gives curry its rich, warm color. Turmeric’s healthy reputation is earned due to its high levels of the active ingredient curcumin. Curcumin gives turmeric its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Additionally, this tasty spice improves brain health and lowers your risk of brain diseases by boosting brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. Curcumin is also proved to be beneficial for improved cardiovascular health, relief from arthritis pain and cancer prevention.

It is important to note that curcumin is not easily absorbed by the body so to get the full effect, you might consider adding turmeric to your daily supplements. To increase the absorption of curcumin in dishes with turmeric add black pepper. This common spice contains piperine, a substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%.

Try this zesty Quick Curry Chicken Salad!

Ginger

This spice is most likely familiar to you as the key ingredient in holiday treats and ginger ale. Gingerol is the compound in ginger that gives the spice its medicinal properties. Like turmeric ginger contains powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. You’ve probably used ginger in its soda or tea form to reduce nausea but this versatile root has many other health benefits. It can reduce muscle pain after exercise and joint pain and stiffness. Early studies also show a link between ginger consumption and the lowering of fasting blood sugar for type 2 diabetics. It can also be helpful for those who suffer from sluggish digestion. Ginger has been shown to speed up the emptying of the stomach. Ginger consumption has even been linked to lowering LDL cholesterol levels.

Ginger is incredibly versatile and can be used fresh, in powder form or as an oil or juice.

Try this easy, anti-inflammatory Roasted Salmon with Sweet Ginger Glaze.

Cardamom

Of the spices listed, cardamom might be the one you are less familiar with. It is used in both sweet and savory dishes and has an intense, mint-like flavor.  Like turmeric and ginger, cardamom is also an antioxidant. Its antioxidant properties, along with its diuretic effect may be beneficial to those with high blood pressure. Studies link cardamom to the reduction of stomach ulcers. If you chew cardamom after a meal, the pods may help prevent cavities by reducing harmful bacteria in the mouth. A little goes a long way as this spice packs a big punch but one that leaves the taste buds zinging.

Try this yummy recipe for Spice Baked Apples. Enjoy!

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