Why Spices Are Desirable

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Alaneme
Alaneme

Apart from adding colour and flavor to foods, research findings have revealed that spices, most of which come from India, have medicinal values

By Chinwe Okafor  |  Mar. 10, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

FAITH Nwoye, a student of Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Imo State, is one of the young ladies who love cooking. According to her, she derives pleasure anytime she enters the kitchen to cook. She loves to make whatever dish she has to prepare  mouth watering . She achieves this feat by adding some spices to the condiments which could either be fresh or processed.

“I go the extra mile to make sure any food I prepare appeals to human taste. Spices go a long way to give food that aroma and taste it deserves. Most times, some of my friends follow me home just to have a taste of my food and I’m always very glad when I’m praised for a job well done,” she said.

Emeka Okoro, also a male student, is in love with cooking. He achieves his aim by adding a little spice to his food in order to get the desired taste which he needs. He said: “I prepare my food all by myself and I’m always happy doing so because I enjoy the act. Sometimes, when I make mistakes, I learn from them and make sure I don’t repeat such again.Spices play an important role in my food preparation and I  considered them to be of great use.”

Some Nigerian spices
Some Nigerian spices

He is right. Spices can also add colour and flavour to foods and protect the human body against a some ailments, one of which is Alzheimer’s disease. A research carried out by a university in  China in March 2012, revealed that spices, such as capsaicin, habaneros, cayenne and jalapenos, contain capsaicinoids which give pepper  hot taste which keeps the heart healthy. They reduce the level of bad cholesterol and speed up its breakdown through excretion.

Capsaicinoids can also stifle the gene that causes arteries to narrow thus improving the flow of blood through vessels. Spices also have chemo-preventive properties. Turmeric, which is a curry spice used in many food flavorings and contains curcumin, a compound thought to have anti-cancer properties. Curcumin inhibits the development of gastrointestinal cancer and  works by inhibiting growth of proteins that cause cancer and prevents inflammation. They are also good mood-lifters because some of them contain antidepressant properties.

Medical experts say that spices and condiments offer innumerable benefits to the human health, but they should be used sparingly because their excessive use in food can cause harm to the body. Ada Alaneme, a doctor in Imo state, agrees that spices act as a stimulus to the digestive system and relieve digestive disorders some of which are of antiseptic value. She said that spices help to reduce sodium in cooking as they enhance the flavour of food. Spices have been imported from India since the ages. Among them are cardamom, clove, nutmeg and ginger which are inseparable ingredients of the Indian ‘Masala Chai.’

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