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Posts Tagged ‘clove’

Click, gurgle, hiss . . . and breathe in the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Enjoying a cup of fresh, hot coffee is one of my favorite parts of my morning routine. For years, I’ve taken my coffee with a bit of cream and no sugar–though it’s often accompanied by a bite of organic dark chocolate. For the antioxidant benefits, of course.

Lately, I’ve been adding a bit of spice to my coffee. It started with cinnamon. One of my favorite local coffee shops serves a lovely cinnamon and honey coffee drink, so cinnamon was a natural choice. Then, I saw a bottle of pumpkin pie spice sitting on the counter (it is getting to be the season for everything pumpkin) and a new favorite was born.

pumpkin pie spice and a very special mug from Japan***      © 2012, Juniper Stokes

***A note on the mug: In general, the Japanese love their characters, and this aspect of the culture gradually rubbed off on me during my years in Tokyo. I don’t really know the whole story of this banana guy, but I do know that the writing on his face reads “fu fu shi” in katakana (a Japanese phonetic script). Unfortunately, I don’t know what “fu fu shi” means. The box this awesome little mug came in features a picture of this guy smiling with some sort of wistful tear, while another picture features him sitting in a large easy chair, in a bathrobe, with a fluffy cat. Strange and genius. I love it.

And back to the spices: Adding spice to your coffee, whether you take it black, white, or sweet, is a great way not only to enhance flavor, but also to sneak in a morning health boost. The following spices are some of my favorites (most are found in pumpkin pie spice), and all have some surprising health benefits:

Cardamom

Cardamom has been known to improve digestion and help the body detox naturally. It contains potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and manganese.  In ayurveda, cardamom is thought to help balance all three doshas, or types of body constitutions, though it is especially good for kaphas, the more earthy and grounded dosha.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is total powerhouse spice with a long list of benefits. It’s relaxing and calms anxiety, and it’s helpful for indigestion and nausea. It has antibacterial properties that fight bacteria in the mouth to help relieve bad breath. As far as detoxing goes, nutmeg is thought to be especially beneficial for the liver and kidneys. Nutmeg has also been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. Nutmeg contains Vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Cloves

Cloves are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant, and they may help provide relief from a variety of ailments related to these areas. They are also good for nausea, and may benefit the heart. They are also thought to encourage mental focus and creativity. Cloves are a source of Vitamin K and manganese.

Ginger

Ginger is another great warming spice. It’s well known for soothing all sorts of digestive issues, including nausea and gas. It also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties, and is known to boost the immune system. Ginger is another spice that may help the heart, as well. Ground ginger is a great source of manganese.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is another powerhouse spice. It has the ability to lower LDL cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and provide arthritis relief. Cinnamon has antibacterial properties and has been shown to help with fungal infections (such as candida). It has been connected to improvements in memory and cognitive functioning, and it’s packed with nutrients, including fiber, calcium, iron, and manganese.

cinnamon, from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Even if coffee isn’t your thing, there are plenty of ways to sneak these health-boosting spices into your morning. Try adding them to oatmeal, yogurt, or a morning protein shake.

Safety–More is not always better. Some of these spices can have negative effects if taken in large quantities. A little daily flavoring is all you need to enjoy their benefits.

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