With the cold weather here, it’s a great time to give your food a kick by adding some spice. Spices have been used in traditional medicine for years. New studies support their benefits for athletes. Spices can make you feel good as they increase serotonin levels. Some spices contain the main compound called capsaicin which has a thermogenic effect that is known to cause the body to burn calories for 20 minutes after a meal. Spices can increase blood circulation, have anti-inflammatory properties, lower blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol.
Here are my top three favorite spices for athletes:
- Ginger is a spice that is used worldwide. It’s used in cooking, condiments, and herbal remedies. Chinese traditional medicine has been using ginger for over 2,500 years to treat digestion, nausea, bleeding disorders, and inflammation.
- Ginger can be used before a sports event to eliminate some of those pre-race jitters or after swimming to help dizziness and nauseous. Athletes can use ginger during their recovery to help prevent inflammation, swelling and sore muscles.
Here are some easy ways to add ginger to your dietary routine:
Ginger Tea: Cut 1-2 pieces of ginger root and add to 1-2 boiling water
Smoothies: Add 1-2 pieces to your smoothies
Ginger Rice: Add half a teaspoon of finely chopped ginger rice cooker or while boiling rice
- Cayenne pepper is the fruit of the cayenne shrub that originated in Central and South America. Cayenne pepper is usually used in cooking to spice and give your food some heat. Cayenne pepper has capsaicin so it enhances our metabolism and fat burning. Cayenne pepper is used to increase blood circulation, stimulate digestion and better cardiovascular function.
- Cayenne pepper can be beneficial to athletes after a race to aid digestion. It is perfect to use to heal an upset stomach after a race. It slows intestinal gas and helps stop stomach pain.
Here are some easy ways to add cayenne pepper to your dietary routine:
Warm lemon water: one slice of lemon, boiling water and a dash of cayenne pepper
Roast veggies: Sprinkle cayenne pepper on your roasted veggies
Eggs: Add a dash of cayenne pepper to your eggs
- Turmeric is a plant native to southern Asia and it’s in the same botanical family as ginger. Similar to ginger, its tuberous shoots from the plant are used in foods and health supplements. Turmeric can be found in the grocery stores as a powder or root. Turmeric is yellow in color, it has a distinct flavor but is not spicy.
- Turmeric has grown in popularity with athletes as it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It is known to help relieve swelling, reduce muscle soreness after a workout or injury. It is perfect for athletes to incorporate this spice in their snacks and meals to help with workout recovery.
Here are some easy ways to add turmeric to your dietary routine:
Potatoes: Add a pinch or two of turmeric to your potatoes. They will look a nice golden color.
Smoothies: Add 1-2 pieces or a dash to your smoothies
Golden turmeric milk: Add a dash of turmeric to warm cashew milk
Written by Siren Luminary Julie Sparkes, RHN
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