Christmas Spices are so Healthy

Whether gingerbread, mulled wine, or hearty dishes: At Christmas time, many delicacies are refined with spices such as cinnamon, cloves, or cardamom. Not only do they smell wonderfully Christmassy – consumed in moderation, they can even be beneficial to your health.

Cinnamon

With its intense smell, cinnamon is one of the classic Christmas spices. Cinnamon is used in Ayurvedic medicine – as an anti-inflammatory for colds and intestinal infections. It is high in antioxidants and potassium and lowers LDL cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels in diabetics.

But there are different varieties: Canehl or Ceylon cinnamon is the healthier variant, also approved as a remedy and a bit sweeter than cassia cinnamon or industrial cinnamon. While Ceylon cinnamon is safe, cassia cinnamon should not be consumed in excess because it contains the flavoring substance coumarin. In high doses, coumarin can cause liver damage in sensitive people.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) therefore recommends a daily intake of no more than 0.1 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Small children weighing 15 kilograms can therefore eat about six small cinnamon stars or 100 grams of gingerbread, and adults weighing 60 kilograms and about 24 small cinnamon stars. According to the BfR, Ceylon cinnamon does not contain any coumarin.

Cardamom

Gingerbread, speculoos, and Christmas stollen would be hard to imagine without the sweet and spicy taste of cardamom. The spice is one of the ginger plants. Like cinnamon, cardamom is also high in essential oils. Therefore, it has a strong antibacterial and expectorant effect. The active ingredient gingerol contained in cardamom can also help against nausea and promotes digestion.

Ginger

The ginger root gives cookies a spicy note but also prevents or relieves colds. Ginger is also effective against immune deficiency and circulatory problems. Above all, it is the ideal remedy for nausea.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg makes up the typical gingerbread taste, but also has a strong mood-enhancing effect, stimulates digestion, and relieves pain in rheumatism, gout, and arthrosis.

Chocolate pepper

Chocolate pepper smells and tastes like dark chocolate. And like all types of pepper, it has a strong anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effect.

Star anise

Star anise comes from the tropics. The whole fruits are ground and used as a spice. Star anise is also often found in medicines for cough and cold. Its essential oils contain high doses of the anti-inflammatory and expectorant compound anethole. Star anise also promotes digestion and is said to work against tension, flatulence, and headaches.

Cloves

Cloves are true all-rounders among the Christmas spices: they refine sweets such as gingerbread and mulled wine as well as hearty game dishes. The main active ingredient in clove oil is eugenol: This blocks the pain nerves in the mouth and face and can thus relieve toothache.

Vanilla

Real vanilla is a spice obtained from the orchid genus Vanilla planifolia. The sweet taste of vanilla gives each type of cookie that certain something. However, the vanilla cannot only convince with its unmistakable taste. Its pleasant smell relaxes and evokes well-being. Often only the pulp of the vanilla bean is used, but the peel is also aromatic. The main component of the aroma is the substance vanillin, which can also be produced artificially. Synthetic vanillin is cheaper, but in terms of taste, there is no comparison with real vanilla pulp.

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