It is (un)officially pumpkin spice season. This spice mixture, consisting of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice can usually be found in many autumnal desserts and drinks. Its flavors can conjures up images of changing seasons, luxurious tastes and Thanksgiving but did you know that there are surprising health benefits associated with this taste flavor? It is important to remember that the less these are processed, the better they are for you. Let’s take a look at the health benefits of each.
Pumpkin is one of the healthiest foods grown as it’s fiber-packed and full of beneficial flavonoids and antioxidants like lutein, xanthin. Pumpkin, a member of the cucumber and squash family, is high in the minerals potassium, magnesium and a rare source of dietary copper.
Cinnamon bark is an ancient aromatic spice. It has a strong pungent flavor that some describe as peppery. Cinnamon is said to have the strongest antioxidant strength of any food found in nature. It is also known for its antiseptic, anesthetic (local), anti-inflammatory, and anti-flatulent properties.
Ginger root is known for its pungent spicy flavor. It is rich in vitamins B-5 and B-6. Ginger has been used for its ability to soothe nerves, provide anesthetic, reduce fever as well as its anti-bacterial properties.
Nutmeg is actually the seed of a fruit. When dried, it produces a spicy sweet aroma and medium pungent flavor that is complementary to many rich dessert dishes. Nutmeg is an excellent source of folate, copper, magnesium, iron, manganese, potassium, and iron.
Allspice, also know as Jamaican peppercorn has a complex flavor profile that resembles a mixture of many spices like cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, and nutmeg. It is high in minerals like manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, and selenium. It has a moderate amount of vitamins C and B-6, niacin, and folates.
Cloves are dried flower buds of an evergreen tree. It contains eugenol, which helps with the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, aiding in digestion. It is also a good source of antioxidants, vitamin A, and beta carotene.
One more unconventional health benefit that will vary with each person is the joy they get from consuming this seasonal treat. Whenever we do an activity that our brain finds pleasurable, hormones are released that reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and there are many health benefits to that. So, the good news is that you don’t need to feel guilty about indulging in your favorite fall pumpkin spiced everything. Just keep portions under control and in perspective.