7 Heart Healthy Spices Found In Jamaica
by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
Photo: Jamaican Turmeric
These spices in Jamaica are used to enhance the flavours of our foods. While adding to the deliciousness of our favourite dishes these spices are also packed with health benefits! Non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of death in Jamaica and complications of the heart, in particular, are the leading cause of death all over the world. I am happy to share 7 everyday spices found in Jamaica that help with heart health.
- Garlic - We all know and appreciate the flavour of garlic in our food. How would you feel to know that while you enjoy your slice of garlic bread, you are actually making healthy choices? Okay, that might not be exactly how it works but garlic does lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the body. Not only that! It also lowers the possibility of plaque build up in the arteries and prevents cell damage.
This is because of the highly beneficial vitamins C and B6, manganese and selenium and the chemical antioxidant Allicin found in Garlic. Having garlic in its raw state once every few days can significantly decrease the likelihood of developing heart complications in the future.
- Thyme - Thyme to us is a significant ingredient to our rice and peas. However tasty it is, that is not the only great thing about the spice, it is also packed with essential nutrients like Calcium, Manganese, Iron and Vitamin K.
These all help to lower blood pressure, prevent tachycardia and reduce the levels of unhealthy fats found in the blood. Thyme can also be a substitute for salt which can negatively affect your entire cardiovascular system. Thyme makes soothing teas as well!
- Cloves - Cloves aren't just to flavour Christmas Hams! They also fight against heart complications. Rich in antioxidants, cloves reduce the stresses that cause cardiovascular diseases. The properties found in cloves also lower the risk of getting high cholesterol. Cloves fight against free radicals which if left in the body can eventually deteriorate the cells and lead to various ailments including heart disease.
- Rosemary - Rosemary lowers blood sugar levels by helping the body to better absorb glucose. This lessens the amount of glucose in your blood and stores it in the muscle cells instead. This is especially important for those living with Type 2 Diabetes.
The antioxidant and antibacterial properties found in Rosemary cleanse the body of free radicals which if left unattended or undetected can interact with other compounds and cause various heart concerns.
- Cinnamon - Cinnamon goes oh so well with almost everything, especially pastries! Maybe after knowing all the health benefits it has you’ll find even more ways to include it in your diet. Cinnamon is very beneficial to the cardiovascular system especially. This is due to its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which are oh so beneficial to maintaining a healthy level of cholesterol and blood pressure.
Just a 1⁄2 teaspoon a day keeps your arteries and heart tissues healthy thus, reducing the risks of many heart diseases. When paired with ginger as a tea blend, it treats heart diseases and diabetes.
I must say though, if you are taking prescribed medication, please consult your doctor before taking large amounts of cinnamon.
Photo: Jamaican Ginger
- Ginger - Jamaica’s ginger is highly regarded as one of the best in the world. Ginger is widely used as both a spice and a medicinal herb all over the world and Jamaica is no different. Although it is mainly used for nausea on the island, it also works greatly against heart ailments. Its bioactive and antioxidant components reduce the possibility of stress-related issues affecting your cardiovascular system and ultimately reduce the possibility of heart diseases.
- Turmeric - Turmeric is very important to Jamaicans because turmeric makes curry and who doesn’t love a good curry! While we do love our curried everything, the health benefits are just as exciting. Turmeric contains antioxidants which prevents fatty deposits from developing in the arteries. It’s anti-inflammatory properties work to protect the arteries from hardening over time. Not only that, it also improves circulation and regulates blood pressure.
So there you have it. Seven spices that are not just a great source of flavour, but also have a host of health benefits which makes me love them even more! I can’t wait to find even more ways to include these seven spices in my diet! What about you?
I also recommend you read, Taste of A Jamaican Christmas - 8 Christmas Spices in Jamaica
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