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During the holidays, protect your liver thanks to advice from science

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Cinnamon, ginger, cloves and citrus peels, these spices have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties useful for protecting the heart, stomach and brain. Let’s try to understand better..

This is the time for spices, with warm and enveloping aromas that tease the senses and fill homes with perfumes. Never as in these months of late autumn and early winter has it been so easy and pleasant to add ginger, cinnamon, orange peel or cloves to dishes and herbal teas. In this way, however, we not only enrich the preparations with taste and aromas but also with precious healthy properties. Oh yes, because the spices that are used most in these months are a true elixir of health and youth. But let’s delve deeper into this topic. Before starting, however, the general advice is that even if spices, as we will see, are beneficial, it is important never to take them in excessive quantities but always in moderation within a varied and balanced diet and, if you are taking medications, ask your doctor for advice.

Ginger, properties
Ginger is the king of spices with its bright yellow color and its scent reminiscent of lemon but with spicy notes. Ginger can be used to prepare herbal teas or can be grated fresh directly onto salads, fruit salads, vegetable side dishes and fish. Ginger can also be found in dried form. Did you know that ginger herbal tea, more than any other preparation based on this spice, is able to reduce inflammation of the gastric mucosa? Not only that, this infusion also stimulates intestinal peristalsis (Zhong et al, Food Sci Nutr, 2019).
Then, both ginger herbal tea and fresh or powdered ginger are valid remedies in case of nausea and vomiting, as well as providing precious antioxidants, useful for counteracting the aging process and protecting the heart (Zhong et al, Food Sci Nutr, 2019). Very interesting is the fact that it is possible to combine ginger with other ingredients, maximizing the cardioprotective and anti-free radical action in a powerful synergy. Examples of what has been stated are hibiscus herbal tea and ginger, green or black tea and ginger but also the drink prepared with apple juice, blueberry juice, cranberry juice and ginger (Makanjuola et al, Food Sci Nutr, 2015). Finally, ginger protects the brain and studies have shown that its intake allows, over months, to enhance cognitive functionality, information processing capacity and reasoning even in middle-aged people (Saenghong et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2012).

Cinnamon, properties
Cinnamon is one of the most loved spices for its warm and sweet aroma. It can be used to make herbal teas or, in powder form, to enrich yogurt, fruit salads, biscuits, cakes and sauces. Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, even in the form of tea to drink (Khedkar et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2023). As a powdered spice, cinnamon helps keep blood sugar and cholesterol under control. Studies have shown that 3 grams of cinnamon per day for three months reduce bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol in people with diabetes (Neto et al, Rev Gaucha Enferm, 2023). Not only that, cinnamon, thanks to its anti-free radical action, improves cognitive function (Jain et al, Nutr Neurosci, 2015).

Cloves, properties
Less used in the kitchen but with interesting healthy properties that are second to none, we are talking about cloves. Cloves are added in small quantities to herbal teas or, in powder form, to biscuit and dessert preparations. All the forms in which cloves occur show the same antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumor properties. Cloves are also anesthetic, in fact in case of toothache chewing a clove on the area is of great relief (Vicidomini et al, Molecules, 2021). The herbal tea prepared with cloves protects the respiratory tract and is beneficial in case of coughs, asthma, colds and sinusitis (Vicidomini et al, Molecules, 2021).

Citrus peels, properties
Orange, mandarin or lemon peels, there is plenty of choice, to add to herbal teas, salads, fruit salads or yoghurt. Citrus peels confer antioxidant properties and show, in the long term, the ability to protect memory and the brain, improving cognitive functionality (Matsuzaki et al, Nutrients, 2022).

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Baba Voss

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