10 Flavors That Can Save Your Life Slideshow

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At-Sunrice Academy culinary school founder Kwan Lui reveals the medicinal powers of the spice rack

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A powerful source of antioxidants, like oregano and basil, rosemary is also believed to improve memory and cognition. It’s known to have purifying effects as well.

Improve Memory: Rosemary

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A powerful source of antioxidants, like oregano and basil, rosemary is also believed to improve memory and cognition. It’s known to have purifying effects as well.

Prevent Diabetes and Lower Blood Sugar: Cloves

Because cloves and clove oil are the best sources of anti-oxidants, according to one study, eating them can have a ton of different benefits including controlling blood sugar and reversing the tissue damage caused by diabetes. Used commonly for toothaches, clove’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can also kill the bacteria involved in tooth decay and bring down the pain from swelling. Use as a hot compress for the affected tooth.

Lower Cholesterol: Laksa Leaf

Valaer Murray

Known as Vietnamese mint, laksa leaf is thought to be a blood-thinner and help lower cholesterol. It’s an ingredient in various Southeast Asian curries and soups, like Singapore’s famous Katong laksa (pictured).

Treat a Cough: Thyme

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Oregano, basil, and rosemary are often used to treat colds, but thyme is especially helpful for coughs. Try making an herbal infusion tea.

Help an Upset Stomach: Ginger

The compounds called gingerols in ginger can relieve nausea and indigestion. Try adding it to steamed rice, making a tea by steeping ginger, or even chewing some raw ginger.

Fight Alzheimer’s: Cinnamon

Cinnamon is known to have anti-viral properties, but a recent study suggests that it can prevent Alzheimer’s and slow down the debilitating disease.

Lower Blood Pressure: Black Pepper, Cayenne (and All Chile Powder)

Because these are the “warming” spices, along with allspice, nutmeg, ginger, star anise, and cinnamon, they are believed to improve circulation by equalizing blood pressure, moving blood from the center of the body towards the skin and extremities.

Improve Digestion: Banana Leaf

The banana tree is technically an herbaceous plant, and its trunk and leaves, which are used for cooking, release an enzyme when heated that aids digestion. Try wrapping fish in a banana leaf and then steaming or even just serve hot food atop a clean banana leaf.

Heal Wounds, Burns, and Sprains: Turmeric

Another wonder spice, turmeric is been found to be a cure-all for everything from cancer prevention, bowel disease, and asthma to arthritis and tendinitis. Aside from its anti-inflammatory properties, its value as an antiseptic also makes it useful for treating wounds, burns, skin problems, and sprains.

Treating the Flu: Star Anise

Many might not realize that star anise played a starring role during the influenza pandemics of the past decade. The Chinese variety (as opposed to the Japanese variety) contains shikimic acid that is used in Tamiflu, the antiviral drug that countries stockpile for influenza outbreaks, and has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine and cooking. Note that the Japanese variety can be toxic.