That spices give an extra touch to recipes is a well-known fact, even taken for granted. However, not everyone knows that they also have health properties.
Recently, the World Health Organisation has confirmed that aromatic plants contain health properties that were already known to our ancestors. Alfons Schuhbeck, founder of the culinary science ‘Spice for Life’, Michelin starred chef and celebrity in Germany (he is a consultant to football team Bayern Munich and Angela Merkel, who asked him to develop a health policy to counter diabetes), has supported this. He became known in Italy this summer when he ran a restaurant in a famous wellness and thalassotherapy centre.
"The herbs aid the digestion and assimilation of food because they drain and detoxify," says the chef. "Only a small amount is needed as a condiment to take advantage of their benefits." One example is basil, which is rich in calcium and magnesium and helps fight depression and memory degeneration. Thanks to vitamin A and C, it also prevents ageing. Nutmeg has an antibacterial effect that protects the digestive system, while chilli improves the immune system and blood circulation, lowering cholesterol levels. Moreover, it fights fever and inflammation.
In order to enhance memory, the chef recommends seasoning food with rosemary, which boasts the presence of many B vitamins and which neutralises free radicals. However, one of Schuhbeck’s favourite spices is ginger, which combats colds and protects the stomach lining, reduces the level of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood and helps the cardiovascular system.