Peppermint isn't the only herb with a lot to offer."Seasonings can help with everything from insulin regulation to indigestion," says Wendy Bazilian, R.D., author of The The SuperFoods Rx Diet. Seek out these seasonal spices for great flavor and benefits.
Peppermint for Bloating
Feeling bloated from all those rich holiday meals? Have a candy cane. Yes, really. A new study in the journal Pain confirms what naturopaths have long suspected: Peppermint can ease the intestinal distress. Researchers discovered that the mint activates an "anti-pain" mechanism that soothes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. It doesn't take much to feel the benefit, just a small piece will do. For a sugar-free option, sip a cup of peppermint tea or try peppermint capsules sold in health-food stores.
Sage for Your Mind
Health Perk: A study in the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior says this herb helps boost memory.
Use It In: Holiday stuffings, soups, and pastas.
Cinnamon for Blood Sugar
Health Perk: One teaspoon daily can lower blood sugar levels, possibly helping to prevent or control diabetes, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found.
Use It In: Fall squash soups, fruit chutney, and French toast.
Thyme for Better Breathing
Health Perk: The antioxidants in thyme may alleviate respiratory ailments like bronchitis, according to studies, and keep you breathing easy even when you're not sick.
Use It In: Roasted poultry and meats, and seafood.
Nutmeg for Swelling
Health Perk: This spice may have anti-inflammatory properties, notes a study in the Journal of Neuroimmunology.
Use It In: Baked goods and eggnog.
Anise for Digestion
Health Perk: "Use this to help with stomach issues -- it relaxes the gastrointestinal muscles," Bazilian says. Use It In: Poached fruit and pastries.
Cloves for Anitaging
Health Perk: "Cloves have one of the highest antioxidant rankings of any spice," Bazilian says.
Use it In: Winter fruit salads, mulled wine or cider, and spicy curries.
Get the freshest spices possible by grinding them yourself.