One of the first steps to eating more healthfully is a fairly simple one: stop eating out and commit to preparing all of your own meals. By forgoing restaurant food for several weeks or months, you’ll gain control over the ingredients, quality and size of your meals, and ingest quite a bit less salt and butter – two of the most over-used, insidious, and in my opinion dangerous flavor-enhancers in the restaurant business.
The second step on the healthy lifestyle highway? Spices – and plenty of them! Not only do they enhance flavor without choking arteries or escalating blood pressure, but many spices have positive, protective powers that can enhance overall health every time you eat – which is quite a tasty bonus!
Thought nothing beats the fresh taste of just-harvested herbs and spices, in most instances fresh can be substituted with good quality dried versions. Look for non-irradiated, organic herbs and spices, fresh or dried, to make the most of all those body-loving plant compounds that support health. Among the most valuable players in the Lipman family spice rack:
Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help lower blood sugar, triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Sprinkle cinnamon on steel cut oats at breakfast or over a bowl of berries for a light, post-dinner treat.
For thousands of years, ginger has been used to help tame nausea, calm upset stomachs, cool heartburn and relieve morning sickness. Think of it as nature’s gift for your gut that tastes great and also helps boosts immune function. Add ginger to lend a kick to stir fry veggies, fish and chicken dishes, or drink in the benefits with a cup of ginger tea.
Turmeric is a multi-talented spice: it’s known for reducing inflammation, can help regulate metabolism and is believed to help slow the progression of and possibly prevent Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers. Though it’s not generally recommended for pregnant women (it can trigger uterine contractions), for most people, turmeric is a health-promoting addition to meals that can have an enormous positive impact on the quality of our lives as we age. Enjoy it in curry dishes, as a marinade ingredient for chicken and fish, or brewed into turmeric tea.
Pungent and delicious, garlic does a body a world of good, with its ability to reduce LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, combat colds and ability to inhibit germ growth. What else does it do? It helps lower blood pressure, can increase HDL-cholesterol, strengthen the body’s defenses against allergies and cancer, and can even help regulate blood sugar levels. With no known downside, other than easily remedied bad breath, my advice? Add garlic to every meal!