During the holiday season we tend to overindulge on a variety of foods that are not the healthiest for our hearts. But the good news is that certain spices popular during the holiday season can also keep your heart healthy and boost your spirits. Here are several spices that are a definite win-win and guaranteed to spruce up your holiday season.
- Cloves: Clove oil is among the best natural sources containing eugenol, a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound. Studies have found administration of clove oil to reduce cholesterol, triglycerides and excessive fat in the liver and to inhibit blood clot formation, A small, unpublished study in diabetics also found that as little as 1 gram of cloves a day (~12 clove pieces) for 1 month was associated with decreases in glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides. And if you don’t like cloves, you can use it as a natural repellent for ants (who detest the scent).
- Cinnamon: Studies in diabetics have found that consuming cassia extract, capsules or raw powder (~1 teaspoon daily) produced meaningful reductions in glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Check out our recent review paper for more details.
- Nutmeg: Used in popular sauces, pies and holiday drinks (e.g., eggnog), this aromatic spice can promote a “Jekyl & Hyde” response. That is, in small amounts (pinch to 1/4 teaspoon) nutmeg has a calming effect and when added to a glass of warm milk ~2 hours before bedtime can lead to a more restful sleep. However, at high doses (~2 tablespoons), nutmeg can produce toxic effects, including heightened anxiety and hallucinations. In other words, just a “little dab will do you”…enjoy!
- Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland USA. His book: “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” focuses on natural ways to improve your heart and emotional health.