This bright orange spice is not only great for adding color to your dish, but the health benefits are immense. A member of the ginger family, this spice is harvested from the root of a curcuma longa plant. For thousands of years, Ayurvedic medicine has used turmeric for a variety of health reasons. The National Institute of Health has found that turmeric aids in helping to treat arthritis, heartburn, stomach pain, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, and loss of appetite. Turmeric is also used as a topical treatment for issues like skin inflammation, infected wounds, and ringworm.
Black pepper is not a spice that many people associate with Indian cooking. However, these little peppercorns have their most ancient roots in India. By now, they are one of the most traded spices in the world and are commonly found in many European dishes, often paired with salt. Black pepper aids in digestion, congestion, an upset stomach and can also help to stop the bleeding on a cut when applied topically.
Native to the forests in India, these green pods are commonly used not only in Indian cooking, but also in Chai—also known as Indian tea. In order to get the full benefits of this spice, the outer shell needs to be broken to expose the tiny pods inside. It can be used to counteract a number of digestive problems including, bloating, gas, heartburn and loss of appetite—it can even treat bad breath and is commonly used as an after-meal breath freshener. In preliminary studies it has also been shown to have cancer fighting effects against non-melanoma skin cancer. However, more research is needed before cardamom can be recommended for cancer prevention.