How does Santa get so big, but avoid Type 2 diabetes? Mrs. Claus might be slipping Santa some cinnamon year-round. Plus, Santa might be good in two sacks, not just the one filled with toys thanks to nutmeg.
And the spice that keeps Santa from getting motion-sickness while he flies from house to house delivering presents is ginger (gingerbread cookies anyway). The flavors and aromas of traditional holiday cooking certainly make us feel all warm and cozy inside, but many have actual health benefits as well!
* Nutmeg may be able to spice up your sex life. Animal studies suggest nutmeg has some aphrodisiac properties that could improve male sexual disorders.
And before you step under the mistletoe, you may want to eat a tasty nutmeg treat as the spice has also been shown to fight cavities. But don’t eat too much–nutmeg can be toxic in large amounts–so it’s best to limit your intake to a maximum of a few tablespoons a day. Add a dash to sauteed greens to give them a little something extra.
* Cinnamon has been a mainstay of alternative herbal medicine for centuries, and now scientific evidence suggests it may help control blood glucose levels.
Several studies have shown this effect, and a small double-blind clinical trial of type 2 diabetics in the UK found that participants who consumed 2g of cinnamon (less than 1 tsp.) daily for 12 weeks had a significantly lower HbA1c (a blood marker that reflects blood glucose levels over the past few months) than those who consumed a placebo.
While more studies are needed to confirm the benefits of cinnamon; other potential roles for this spice include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Sprinkle some into your yogurt for a tasty snack.
* Ginger is well-known for easing nausea. The upset tummy taming spice is particularly good at helping morning sickness in pregnant women and other forms of nausea, such as those induced by motion sickness or cancer treatments.
It has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties and to have the potential to help lower blood pressure.
Additionally, a small study suggests ginger compresses applied externally may help relieve painful bones and joints associated with osteoarthritis. Plus, for the fitness buffs, “even just 2g (or 1/14 of an oz.) of raw or cooked ginger a day might reduce your post-workout muscle pain.” Try making your own homemade ginger ale.