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Spice Up Your Life

Just like the drugs we take that come from exotic rain forests, some of the spices we use every day have incredible health benefits too, so we should probably use MORE of them.

Ginger is good for nausea. Peppermint is good for a stomach ache. But spices can also help ward off serious diseases. Dr. Suzanna Zick says the right spices can "help prevent certain cancers, and even lower blood pressure, control blood sugar and improve cardiovascular health." And don't forget the exotic spice that the world is stockpiling to use against bird flu!

Garlic appears to help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. "For maximum benefit, you need to have about three medium cloves of garlic per day. Dry garlic or garlic left out too long, lose their healthy benefits," says Zick.

To fight aging, eat rosemary, which is one of nature's most powerful antioxidants, according to Zick. It's also thought to help with memory, and research is currently underway to determine rosemary's potential cancer-prevention properties.

Basil, oregano and rosemary can help fight colds. Since these three herbs contain strong essential oils, Zick says they potentially can fight against colds and flu, and "All three are powerful antioxidants as well."

Treat chronic coughs with thyme. "The health benefits of thyme are unique. It has been traditionally used to treat coughs, even whooping cough. Thyme is often drunk as a tea," she says.

Lower your blood pressure with "warming spices" like ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, pepper and cayenne pepper. They make a person feel warm because they bring blood from the center of the body to the skin. This may decrease blood pressure.

Curry fights cancer. Research on curcumin has shown that it shrinks pre-cancerous lesions known as colon polyps, although the amount needed for its health benefits is unclear.

Got back pain? Curry is good for that too. Research has shown that the substance commonly found in turmeric?a common, bright red spice added to curry mixes?has known anti-inflammatory properties. It works in a very similar way to anti-inflammatory drugs.

But the best thing to do for back pain is NOT to sit up straight. A new study that shows that it's much better to lean back at around a 90 degree angle. In fact, the strain of sitting upright for long hours is may be where chronic back problems begin.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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