Updated 5th June 2024

How to eat more spices: 8 tips and 3 recipes

Share this article

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

For centuries, spices have held an honored place in cultures throughout the world. At one point, spices were so valuable that they served as currency. 

The global spices and seasonings market, which was valued at $19.3 billion in 2023, is anticipated to grow to $29.6 billion by 2032.

The benefits of spices

Today, scientists are investigating spices’ potential health benefits. Among other avenues, they’re exploring spices' anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

Below are some of the reasons that we should all spice up our lives. 

Keep in mind that while spices can be beneficial, they’re not magic — it’s best to enjoy them as part of a balanced, varied diet. 

Also, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about spices’ health effects. Scientists need to conduct larger and longer studies to confirm these potential benefits.

Diversify your plant intake

Spices are derived from plants and contain a diverse range of healthy compounds. They’re each a form of vegetable or fruit that can be stored for years when dried. 

This means that each spice counts toward your target of 30 plants per week

Enhance flavors

Spices have two main jobs: to preserve other ingredients and enhance the taste of your food. Adding a spice or two can make even the blandest dish delicious.

Boost your antioxidants

Spices are rich in antioxidants and protective polyphenols.

Take turmeric, for example. This vibrant yellow spice contains curcumin, a compound known for its potent antioxidant properties. 

Studies have shown that curcumin can neutralize harmful free radicals that can contribute to chronic diseases.

Then, there are cloves, which contain eugenol, another powerful antioxidant compound.

Support your immune system

Spices like ginger and turmeric contain compounds that may help reduce inflammation. 

Also, some spices appear to modulate the gut microbiome, which plays a crucial role in supporting immune health. 

Plus, certain spices might support heart health by reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol levels, or controlling blood pressure.

Help with blood sugar control 

Some research suggests that cinnamon may help regulate blood sugar levels, particularly in people with diabetes or insulin resistance.

Meanwhile, chili peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which may have several health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. 

Some studies, mostly in animals, suggest that capsaicin might help reduce blood sugar levels.

One study in humans found that consuming chili peppers in meals led to lower blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.

Other research suggests that capsaicin might improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in adults with overweight and obesity.

However, it’s important to note that more research is needed to fully unpack the relationship between eating chilis and keeping blood sugar in check. 

How to add more spices to your diet

If you haven’t used spices much, the wide range available might seem a little daunting. Here are some simple tips to get you started.

1. Experiment: There are hundreds of spices out there, each with a unique flavor. Try starting out by infusing some olive oil with garlic or chili flakes.

2. Create blends: Mix different spices together to make your own blend. This can be a fun way to experiment with different flavors and create something unique.

3. Add spices to your staples: Why not spice up your breakfast? Add cinnamon or turmeric to your morning oatmeal or smoothie. Some spices can be quite strong, so start with a small amount and adjust as you go.

4. Use spices in baking: Spices can add warmth and depth to sweet treats. Experiment with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves in cakes, cookies, muffins, and bread.

5. Use marinades and rubs: Spices like paprika, cumin, and cilantro can make a great addition to marinades for meat, fish, tofu, or tempeh. You can combine spices with ingredients like olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs to create delicious flavors.

6. Spice up your snacks: Add spices to popcorn, nuts, or seeds for a tasty snack. Why not roast some chickpeas in the oven or air fryer with smoked paprika and garlic powder?

7. Try teas and infusions: Spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves can be steeped to make beverages more aromatic.

8. Make your own condiments: Try your hand at a curry paste or salsa using a variety of spices. These condiments can complement a wide range of dishes.

A quick note on storage: To maintain spices’ flavor and freshness, store them in a cool, dark place and use them within a year. 

Join the community

Be the first to know about ZOE’s breakthrough research, content from the world’s leading scientists, and more.

Spice-fueled recipes

Each recipe below offers a delightful blend of flavors and aromas. Give them a try, and let us know which you enjoyed the most.

Roasted cauliflower curry

This curry makes a brilliant lunch or dinner. Plus, it's adaptable, so you can add or substitute other vegetables as seasons and tastes change.

Ingredients: Cauliflower, olive oil, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, onion, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, chopped tomatoes, garam masala, cumin, dried cilantro, and fresh cilantro (optional).

Recipe link: Searching for Spice

Tofu tikka masala

This vegetarian tikka masala is one of the most delightful Indian dishes you’ll ever taste.

Ingredients: Tofu, yogurt, garlic, lemon, olive oil, salt, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, turmeric, garam masala, paprika, ginger, nutmeg, red chili powder, red dried chilies, serrano pepper, tomato paste, tomatoes, salt, coconut milk, butter or a vegan alternative, lemon, brown rice or bulgur wheat, and fenugreek leaves (optional).

Recipe link: Rainbow Plant Life

Turmeric latte

This comforting drink has a blend of aromatic spices.

Ingredients:

Milk, turmeric, cinnamon, ground ginger, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and black pepper.

Recipe link: BBC Good Food

Summary

Spices can enhance the flavor of your meals, and they’re an easy way to fit more plants into your diet. 

Although we need more conclusive research, spices seem to offer a range of health benefits when they’re part of a diverse, plant-rich diet.

Because spices are so varied, it’s a good idea to experiment until you find combinations you love.

And you don’t have to be a whizz in the kitchen — start by adding one or two spices to dishes you already enjoy.

Sources

Share this article

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Print this page
  • Email this page