The digestive properties of herbs are without doubt one of the main reasons they have been used in medicine since ancient times. And their taste and aroma usually fits very well into their purpose and use in different meals.
The big question is: Can herbs and spices help us fight overweight? Can they accelerate our metabolism and assist us in our weight loss efforts?
We do think they can, if we use them according to purpose, instead of as a panacea to indulge in unhealthy diets, and more as an aid to an existing practical knowledge of correct eating habits.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis): Thermogenic (Increases body heat). It is rich in a type of poly-phenols called catechins which have anti-inflammatory properties and stimulate the body to burn calories and decrease body fat. Lower blood pressure and lower LDL "bad" cholesterol are two among many other bonuses derived from drinking green tea regularly. In ayurveda medicine is custormary to sweeten your tea with honey, but wait until the tea has cooled off a bit. Some of honey's great properties get lost when exposed to high temperatures.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): Boosts the metabolism and reduces hunger. It is excellent for digestion, reducing mucus and improving fat metabolism. Fennel detoxifies the system and lowers «bad» cholesterol. You can use most of the fennel plant to boost weight-loss. Chewing the seeds is a perfect snack, something that will curtail your normal appetite for simple carbohydrates. Eat the leaves and make a leaf or seed tea. Fennel helps the liver and pancreas in the metabolism of fats and sugars.
Cayenne pepper (Capsicum annuum): Improves the circulatory and digestive systems. Capsaicin, a main ingredient in cayenne pepper is a thermogenic chemical compound. It improves metabolic functions and helps decrease hunger. Due to the effect on the carbohydrates breakdown after a meal, cayenne may also be used to regulate blood sugar levels.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum): Strong effect on blood glucose levels. This again affects how fat is used and stored. This is one great reason to use cinnamon in meals high in carbohydrates, e.g. sugar and flour, because it reduces the glycemic index of these foods by up to 30%. In studies run at The Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, cinnamon derivatives improved sugar metabolism in the body an amazing 20 times over the normal values.
Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus): Improves liver function by rising bile production, making it an excellent digestive aid. It lowers blood sugar levels naturally, reducing insulin resistance (IR). This helps level the insulin glucagon ratio, so we use more fat for energy. It stimulates the uterus, so pregnant women should be careful with it.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Known mostly as an excellent medicine for motion sickness and gastrointestinal troubles, it also aids metabolism by improving digestive processes. It is known to balance appetite regulation, reducing hunger. A natural thermogenic and intestine anti-inflammatory, it inhibits low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the liver.
Spices like rosemary, thyme, coriander, caraway, cumin, peppermint, marjoram, cardamom and anise are widely used in cooking. They are great digestive aids, rich in mineral, vitamins and have prodigious antioxidant properties, among many other balancing functions in the body.
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