by Taylor McLamb

If you’re hesitating about incorporating spices into your meal, we recommend watching the viral video of Oprah Winfrey reacting to bland chicken from her 2006 talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. Winfrey winces as she tastes Pillsbury bake-off winner Anna Ginsberg’s baked chicken and spinach stuffing, awkwardly smiling at the camera as she asks, “Did we add salt and pepper? I think we need salt and pepper.” To help prevent an Oprah situation, adding a little flavor to your food can go a long way. You don’t have to be an award- winning chef to transform an otherwise tasteless dish into a flavorful experience.

Hannah M. Stahmer, a registered dietician at the University of Florida, said one of the powerful things about spices is the scent and how it can provoke a memory of a time and place.“Cooking with different spices helps me to embrace the origin of the food I am making and helps me explore foods of different cultures,” said Stahmer.

Spices are accessible at your local grocery store, making them a versatile and easy tool to kick your meals up a notch. Plus, the health benefits of what certain spices can bring to your mind and body make experimenting with spices a win-win health and taste combo. Stahmer said that she feels good about using spices because most spices are powerful anti-oxidants that may help prevent cell damage due to the environment, aging and illness. “With the rise of auto-immune related diseases, it’s nice to know that some of the spices that make food taste and smell delicious may also help protect us from cell damage.”

Don’t know where to start? Here is a list of tasty spices with incredible health remedies:

1. Himalayan Pink Salt

If you’re up-to-date with all things trending, then you definitely know that Himalayan salt is the new must-add to every culinary dish. Not only can you use it to add a little extra flavor to your dish, Himalayan salt can also be used as a slab to serve food, it can be thrown in your bath for detox, or purify your air in the form of a rock. With its eye- catching pink hue, this salt can help increase hydration, help to reduce acid reflux and even improve your circulation!

2. Cilantro

Adding some cilantro to your dish will sure make it burst with flavor. Sprinkling it on some tacos or adding it to guacamole will always “wow,” but the most amazing part is the added benefits you get from this common spice. This spice can quickly become essential as it can help reduce skin inflammation, regulate your blood pressure and even treat mouth ulcers.

3. Allspice

If you dig around in your shelf you might come across allspice, which is mostly used during the holidays for a number of dishes. It is native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean islands, but it can benefit your health in many ways. If you are subjected to gastrointestinal problems, sprinkling some allspice on your culinary dishes can help to relieve gas, abdominal pain and even indigestion.

4. Cayenne Pepper

If you’re a fan of spicy food, cayenne pepper is perfect for you. Sprinkle some on your eggs in the morning to start your day off with a kick, or add it to flavor tacos and chili. Not only is it delicious, but cayenne has been known to aid in cutting short cold symptoms (add some to your tea in the morning), it can prevent ulcers and relieve pain.

5. Cinnamon

If you have a sweet tooth, cinnamon is perfect because it allows you to sweeten up your dishes without adding sugar. Add it to your oatmeal in the morning, sprinkle some in your smoothies or even mix it into your favorite black bean dish. According to a study done at the American Heart Association’s Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology/ Peripheral Vascular Disease 2017 Scientific Sessions, cinnamon was linked to healthier blood levels of fat, sugar and insulin.

6. Turmeric

Don’t be scared away from turmeric’s bright orange hue, this spice has become a trendy super-food for a reason. Turmeric contains curcumin, which according to a review in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal and anticancer activities. Add it to your tofu stir-fry, sprinkle some on popcorn or add it to curry dishes and salad dressings. According to The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, you can also add it to milk to help with protein digestion.

7. Ginger

Ginger is usually thought of for primarily Asian cuisine, but it’s also delicious incorporated in fresh tea, smoothies, soups and baked goods. Ginger has also been used for hundreds of years due to its astounding health benefits. Ginger has been known to help with digestion, nausea, cold and flu relief, cardiovascular health and inflammation.