Staying healthy is a great idea in theory, but it’s not always so easy to actually carry out. Do I really want to just ignore that slice of cake? Do I have to go for a run? The truth is, sometimes you need an easier way out. These spices provide an extra boost of vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients to your meals that can make your daily routine a bit healthier, even if you do decide to skip that Saturday morning yoga class.

1. Cumin


Photo by Hannah Lin

Not only does cumin taste amazing rubbed on meat, but eating it might actually help you live longer. Studies have shown that cumin can act as a power anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. In addition, the magnesium contained in cumin can help lower that high blood pressure that finals inevitably bring.

2. Turmeric" src="" alt="Spices" width="670" height="451" />

Photo by Steven Jackson via

Well known for giving curry it’s distinctive yellow color, turmeric contains a powerful compound called curcumin that has a variety of beneficial health effects. Curcumin has actually been shown to play a role in preventing the spread of cancer and lowering your risk of heart disease.

3. Cinnamon


Photo Courtesy of

Next time you’re enjoying some spiked warm cider, make sure to toss some cinnamon in there. Not only will it improve the taste, but consuming about 1/2 a tablespoon of cinnamon a day has been shown to lower blood sugar and low-density lipid levels, which can cause heart disease. Animal studies have actually shown that cinnamon can even have a beneficial effect on neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

4. Rosemary


Photo by Hannah Lin

While you probably know it best for its intoxicating Italian aroma, it has been proven that rosemary’s antibacterial properties actually play a role in fighting harmful bacteria within your body. If you’re looking to get the most out of your meat, cook with rosemary.

5. Ginger


Photo by Hanna Lin

While people recognize ginger for its ability to combat nausea, many don’t know about the other health benefits that it has to offer. Ginger can improve the absorption of nutrients into your bloodstream, and may play a role in combatting colon cancer.

6. Sage" src="" alt="Spices" width="634" height="472" />

Photo by snowmentality via

Since the dawn of medicine, sage has been used as a medicinal herb to treat a variety of conditions. It has been shown to have a calming effect if its smoke is inhaled, or if steeped in tea. In addition, sage can lower blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of health disease.

7. Chili Pepper" src="" alt="Spices" width="670" height="443" />

Photo by Sonny Abesamis via

Chili pepper contains a potent chemical called capsaicin which has dozens of beneficial health effects. Capsaicin has been demonstrated to amp up metabolism and improve short-term weight loss (although the jury’s still out on whether it has long-term weight loss effects.) In addition, cultures that frequently use chili pepper in their food demonstrate lower rates of strokes and heart attacks. Coincidence? (I don’t know. Probably.)

8. Garlic" src="" alt="Spices" width="627" height="417" />

Photo by Mo Riza via

If you really need another excuse to use more garlic in your cooking, this is it. Garlic has been shown to have crazy health effects, from reducing the symptoms of the common cold to preventing the growth of tumors. It has even been shown to improve athletic ability (if you’re looking to get that 5k time down). 

9. Saffron" src="" alt="Spices" width="670" height="444" />

Photo by Steven Jackson via

Although probably most well-known for its ridiculous price tag, saffron plays a role in improving the workings of various bodily systems. Since it contains a great amount of potassium, it can improve cell health and regulate digestion.


Graphic by Spoon University

Need some ideas to help you work these spices into your diet?