Spices are a variety of natural ingredients from plants and trees in the form of fruit, seed, bud, petal, bark or stigma. Their final stage after processing can be fresh, dried, powdered or in the form of oil. They are known to have their own unique taste and aroma which enhances dishes, be it savoury or sweet.
They are widely known across the world, but most commonly used in Asian countries since ancient times for cooking, beauty, health and medicinal purposes. Indians cook their dishes with a wide range of spices and even use them to make masalas for various foods. Here are few of the top spices and their benefits.
This spice is processed from an unopened flower bud of the evergreen clove tree by sun drying them till its brown and then it is ready to use. It is used as a whole, powdered and even an essential oil. The bud size differs between ½ inch to 3 ½ inches. A common spice used in India while flavouring a dish or even to make masala powders. Clove can be used for both savoury and sweet dishes. Apart from being a spice, a compound in it called eugenol holds a lot of advantages for skin and haircare.
- Soothes a toothache and sore gums.
- Improves digestive health
- High in antioxidants, which aids in fighting a lot of diseases and infections.
- The smell of the clove oil or even sucking on clove buds helps reduce motion sickness and nausea.
- Concentrated clove oil or essential oil-infused products can be used for many skin care and haircare purposes.
- Helps clear acne.
- Fights bacteria on the skin which causes breakouts.
- It has anti-ageing properties to fight wrinkles and lines.
- Also reduces dark circles and under eye bags.
- Fights hair fall and boosts hair growth.
Called the Queen of spices, this spindle-shaped pod is filled with a fruity and floral flavour which is popularly used for many Indian sweets. The husk is wrinkled in texture and once peeled contains smalls round seeds inside, both of which adds to the taste of any food. They are found in both green and black colour, but the green shaded cardamom is most commonly used. It can also be used for savory dishes.
- They are natural mouth fresheners! Chewing on the seeds directly helps fight odour and leaves you with a fresh breath.
- Soothes a sore throat and cold.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Relieves breathing disorders.
- Is believed to have agents that help fight certain cancers.
- High in nutrients like potassium, calcium and magnesium.
- Fights skin allergies and acts as a soothing agent.
- Helps in brightening complexion and has anti-ageing properties.
- Nourishes scalp by cleansing it gently.
Nutmeg is one of the beloved spices used to enhance food in India and many other countries. A spice that is popularly known to be used for desserts, masalas and many savoury dishes. It’s an oval shaped seed brown in colour. Apart from being a taste boosting ingredient, this seed is known for its beauty and health benefits.
- Methanol in this spice helps relieve pain.
- Contains nutrients like vitamin C, iron, magnesium and dietary fibre.
- It is believed to aid people who suffer from insomnia (sleep disorder).
- Improves brain health as it contains volatile oils.
- Also aids in promoting digestion and weight loss.
- Contains properties that improve overall oral health.
- Contains anti-microbial elements that fight acne and other skin conditions.
- It is also known to have anti-ageing properties.
- Aids in clearing blackheads and clogged pores.
- Combats rashes and breakout as it has anti-inflammatory agents.
This spice is basically a part of the tree bark obtained from a particular variety of trees. Usually found in different shades of browns, the flavour and aroma also differ accordingly. The look of feel of cinnamon is rough, textured, a little crescent-shaped or even swirled up. It has a strong aroma and tastes sweetish with a tinge of spiciness.
- High in antioxidants, manganese, dietary fibre and Vitamin K.
- Helps relieve inflammation as it contains a variety of flavonoids.
- Aids in fighting bacterial and fungal infections.
- It is a good source of spice to consume for people who are diabetic as it regulates blood sugar level.
- This spice is also known to boost brain health.
- It is known for treating acne and breakouts.
- A nutrient filled exfoliator that boosts and energises your skin health.
- Aids in toning the skin and also helps remove blemishes.
- A highly nutritious hair mask that strengthens roots and cleanses the scalp of any dead skin or infections.
It is known as the costliest and one of the most flavourful spices in the world. Also called as ‘kesar’, this is obtained from the stigma of a flower known as saffron crocus. They come in many shades of red depending on where they are grown and the level of quality. Apart from adding a subtle taste to any sweet or savoury dish, it has the ability to colour the food as well. It leaves a light orangish or reddish shade when dipped in liquid (water or milk).
- Aids in cardiovascular health.
- Has the ability to help fight anxiety and depression.
- The nutrients it contains regulates hormones and is known to improve PMS symptoms.
- Saffron is also identified for being a popular aphrodisiac.
- It is high in nutrients like manganese, vitamin c, phosphorous, potassium and antioxidants.
- Consuming this spice during the pregnancy benefits the health of both mother and child.
- There are a variety of beauty products infused with kesar as its key ingredient due to its properties.
- It helps in soothing and softening the skin, leaving it evenly toned.
- The spice aids in fighting dry and dull skin by rejuvenating and leaving a radiant glow on your face.
- Known to combat acne, it also clears blemishes and marks.
- Saffron infused hair care products are good for boosting hair growth and nourishing the roots and scalp.
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Apart from spices just being a taste enhancer, they also aid in skincare and haircare due to their effective qualities. They are widely available as whole, powdered, essential oils or in the form of ingredient infused products. With these tips in mind, try the products for yourself and get the best out of them.