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5 Spices that Boost Heart Health


By Lynn C. Allison  From Newsmax

Take a pass on the salt shaker and add special spices to your favorite foods to enhance the flavor while boosting your cardiovascular health, says HuffPost.

“Spices are high in antioxidants, and antioxidants fight free radicals that can wreak havoc in our bodies,” says Dr. Elizabeth Klodas, a preventive cardiologist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “For heart health specifically, antioxidants help reduce the impact of elevated cholesterol levels.”

Spicing up your foods also lowers the need for salt and sugar, says Dr. Nieca Goldberg, clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. “Salt can raise blood pressure and worsen heart failure symptoms. Sugar can lead to weight gain and worsen glucose levels, which can strain your heart,” she said.

Five spices proven to boost heart health:

• Cinnamon. Klodas says that cinnamon has been shown to help control blood sugar levels, especially in those with diabetes. Cinnamon also helps lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. When 60 adults in a small study ate ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon every day for 40 days, their “bad” LDL cholesterol went down, says WebMD. Other research has found that similar amounts consumed daily for 18 weeks lowered LDL and total cholesterol while raising “good” HDL cholesterol. Cinnamon is a great spice for baking or simply adding to oatmeal or coffee.

• Cumin. Cumin, often used in Indian and Mexican dishes, is a powerful anti-inflammatory spice and may help with weight loss. It works well in bean dishes, stews and as a flavor enhancer for rice or quinoa.

• Garlic. Klodas says that garlic has been shown to improve the flexibility of blood vessels and to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. She adds that eating garlic may also help reduce blood pressure. While adding fresh garlic to your favorite dishes is the preferred way to reap its health benefits, you can also buy aged garlic extract (AGE) or use a powder if that’s more convenient.

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• Ginger. Ginger is a versatile spice that lends its peppery and pungent flavor to teas, smoothies and cooked dishes. Like garlic, it is best used fresh, but is available in dried and powdered versions as well. The active compound in ginger that helps lower oxidative stress in the body is gingerol, says HuffPost. Oxidative stress can promote atherosclerosis and heart disease.

• Paprika. Michelle Routhenstein, a preventive cardiology dietitian and registered dietitian nutritionist, says that paprika, which comes from grinding up dried red peppers, is a heart-healthy spice because of its rich vitamin A content. “You can select sweet, smoked or hot paprika depending on the dish and your flavor preference,” she says. Sweet paprika pairs well with hummus, tofu, and eggs. Smoked paprika helps balance the flavors of bean and rice dishes. Hot paprika is spicier and is a good addition to soups, stews, and braised dishes.

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