Sugar and Spice

I’ve known a few girls who took exception to that whole “sugar and spice and everything nice” thing. I mean, I get the whole empty calories thing leaving a little to be desired, but spices are really something special. If variety is the spice of life, I’d love to talk to you about expanding the spice cabinet beyond salt and pepper (not to knock pepper, one of my standbys–one component of pepper, called piperine, has been shown to kill cancerous cells in culture).

For starters, there is cinnamon (which I mentioned briefly in my muesli post). Cinnamon is awesome in general–on toast, in cereal, with vanilla ice cream, with anything chocolate. And it has been connected to increasing the life span of C. elegans (the nematode worm) and decreasing hydrogen peroxide related reactive oxygen species (or, in non-science speak: cinnamon has considerable antioxidant effects). Now, I know that might sound underwhelming, but nematodes are an important model species for aging and lifespan, since many aging pathways are conserved between humans and worms (believe it or not).

Cloves typically crop up in holiday cooking, apple pies, and citrus. A particular component of cloves has been shown to offer protection against hyperglycemia and any reactive oxygen species. Hyperglycemia is a well-known symptom of diabetes, but it can also be triggered by intense stress in non-diabetics. With finals coming up, it might make sense to pull out some whole cloves and making some simple apple cider for those early morning cram sessions.

On a savory note, there are scallions. Scallions are a great addition to your cooking–they add a hint of onion taste, and without making you cry! These, too, are known to offer health benefits–in one study, scallion extract was shown to have anti-tumor properties and increased the survival rate of test mice.

Your curry habit may also have a healthy bent, too. Turmeric has been correlated with increased pulmonary function in smokers and nonsmokers in an observational study. While causation can’t be established with an observational study, it does call for more research into the topic.

So, revel in that sugar and spice thing–we’re sweet, sassy, and healthy to boot.


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