Where Do Spices Come From?
Spices add to the flavour of life. It is the contribution of these ingredients that gets our taste buds in the right mood for food. They have been storehouses of health benefits and have helped use boost our immunity with essential nutrients. These ingredients are one of the reasons we keep craving for food. These ingredients are our very own spices. These spices are an integral part of the Indian cuisines for various reasons. While some of these spices come from the Indian subcontinent, the others have their origin in different parts of the world.
Here is a list of a few world-renowned spices that have found a home for themselves in the Indian household:
1. Haldi (Turmeric): Turmeric is known by different names across the world. It is widely reported that the word Turmeric might have originated from the Latin word ‘Terra Meritta’ which means sacred soil. The use and benefits of Turmeric had been observed in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, dating back nearly 4000 years to the Vedic culture in India. It is known to help with breathing problems, joint pain, fatigue, digestive issue and much more to name a few. Turmeric also reduces the process of ageing and can be used for treating acne, wounds and stretch marks.
2. Laal mirch (Red Chillies): Red Chillies are paramount to any Indian dish. Falling under the category of Capsicum fruit, this spice has been part of the human diets since about 7500 BC. The origin of these chilli peppers gets traced to North-eastern Mexico approximately 6000 years ago. This spice has a range of benefits including Vitamins like Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin K1. Apart from this, red chillies also help maintain blood pressure, prevents heart ailments and may assist in fat burn.
3. Methi (Fenugreek): This multi-purpose herb is used in many ways. Its fresh leaves are used in sabzis, dried leaves (kasuri methi) is used as a garnish, and seeds are often used in the tadka can be used as a vegetable, a spice, a flavouring agent and/or even a supplement. This plant was brought into cultivation in the Near East. Burnt seeds of fenugreek have been known to be recovered from Tell Halal, Iraq, and rotten seeds from the tomb of Tutankhamen. Cato the Elder lists Fenugreek with clover and vetch as crops grown to feed cattle.
Fenugreek comes with quite a few nutritional advantages. These seeds are known to be a rich source of protein, dietary fibre, B vitamins and dietary minerals mainly manganese and iron. 100g of Fenugreek are known to provide 1,350 Kilojoules of food energy and contain 9% water and 58% carbohydrates, 23% protein and 6% fat. Methi can also have a good effect on blood lipid levels. Fenugreek seeds are highly recommended to people with diabetes. The seeds contain fibre and other chemicals that may slow digestion and the body’s absorption of carbohydrates and sugar.
4. Jeera (Cumin): This spice has originated from the Eastern Mediterranean regions called the Levant. Cumin was a significant spice for the ‘Minoans’ in ancient Crete. In ancient Greek people kept Cumin on the dining table in a particular container (same way salt and pepper are kept today). This practice still continues in Morocco.
One teaspoon of whole Cumin is said to contain 7.88 calories, 0.37g of protein, 0.47g of fat and 0.93g of carbohydrates. The same quantity also contains 19.6mg of calcium, 1.39 mg of Iron and 7.69 mg of Magnesium. In addition to this, it also contains antioxidants which may be associated with certain benefits. The health benefits that cumin is known to provide are weight loss, reduced cholesterol, helps in reducing blood sugar, promotes digestion, fights stress by working as an antioxidant and also reduces memory loss.
5. Kaali mirch (Black Pepper): Black pepper is produced from the still-green, unripe drupe of the pepper plant. This spice has been known to be a part of the Indian kitchen since 2000BC. It was essential during the Chera dynasty, what would today be known as ‘Kerala’. There are certain perquisites you gain by adding black pepper to your food. They are known to be potent sources of antioxidants, boost nutrient absorption, promote digestion and prevent diarrhoea. Furthermore, piperine - the active ingredient in black pepper - can fight free radicals and ease out digestion, absorbing beneficial compounds.
Apart from all the goodness and mouth-watering flavours and aromas spices provide, there is an extra boon that they carry along with them. For example - the spice Turmeric, can be consumed with hot milk (haldi doodh) in order to manage the symptoms of a sore throat. It is also used to treat cuts, wounds and other inflammatory related issues and is a powerful antioxidant.
With these spices and herbs, there is always more ways than one to #SpiceUpYourHealth. Try Tata Sampann spices to make sure you use pure spices with natural oils to get the best of taste and good health that these spices have to offer.
- Turmeric, the Golden Spice [NCBI]
- Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health
- Prehispanic Use of Chili Peppers in Chiapas, Mexico
- A review of the effects of Capsicum annuum L. and its constituent, capsaicin, in metabolic syndrome [NCBI]
- Fenugreek [Spice Board of India]
- Fenugreek a multipurpose crop: Potentialities and improvements [NCBI]
- Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) as a potential source of antioxidants [Research Gate]
- Pepper [Spices Board of India]
- Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties of Piper Species: A Perspective from Screening to Molecular Mechanisms [NCBI]
- Star Anise (Illicium Verum): Chemical Compounds, Antiviral Properties, and Clinical Relevance [NCBI]
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