Food & Drink/ Health & Wellness

The Hidden Health Benefits of Spices

Excerpted from Peace & Parsnips: Adventurous Vegan Cooking for Everyone © Lee Watson, 2016. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. 

In addition to making your meals taste a lot more interesting and complex, spices can positively impact your health. From digestive aids to anti-inflammatory all-stars, here is the breakdown of the health benefits of 22 commonly used spices.

Ajwain seeds

Antifungal, antibacterial, rich in fiber and antioxidants. Used in traditional medicine to treat indigestion, coughs, and asthma.


Soothing, warming, increases digestive power, anti-inflammatory, anti-flatulent, high in vitamins and minerals (like vitamin C and iron).

Anise seed/star anise

Tonic, stimulant, antiseptic qualities, high in copper and iron, high levels of the B vitamins, decent for vitamins C and A, used to treat bronchitis, indigestion and asthma.


Antiflatulent, lowers blood pressure, antibacterial, aids digestion, soothing.

Bay leaf

Contains compounds that are said to fight cancer, and also boasts antiseptic, antioxidant, and digestive qualities. Fresh leaves are a brilliant source of vitamins C and A, and are also high in minerals and folic acid. Bay leaves soothe the stomach, making them helpful when treating ulcers. Very high in iron.

Black pepper

Anti-inflammatory, calming, anti-flatulent, stimulates digestion, great source of the B vitamins, good for vitamins C and A.


Powerful antioxidant qualities, promotes smooth circulation of blood, lowers bad cholesterol, decent levels of vitamins A and K. Capers have been used to treat rheumatic pain and stimulate the appetite.

Caraway seed

Speeds up digestion, high in dietary fiber, absorbs toxins, contains several powerful antioxidants, good for iron and zinc, used in remedies for IBS.


Digestive, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, calming, diuretic, general tonic, high in potassium, ridiculously high in manganese (helps clean out free radicals).


Capsaicin (an alkaloid compound) is what gives chilies their distinct flavor and spiciness. It has been shown to reduce cholesterol and to fight cancer and diabetes. Chilies have high levels of vitamin C and decent levels of minerals.


Warming and soothing, antiseptic and with anesthetic qualities, helps against arterial diseases and strokes.


Warming and soothing, antiseptic, anesthetic, kills stomach parasites. Clove oil is great for arthritis and aching muscles.

Coriander seeds

Calming, digestive stimulant, very high in iron, generally high levels of minerals and vitamins. Coriander seeds can even help to combat bad breath!


High in dietary fiber, anti-flatulent, aids digestion, very good source of iron, high in copper (good for the red blood cells) and calcium, high in carotenes and the B vitamins, helps colds and indigestion.

Fennel seeds

Great stores of vitamins A, E and C, and the B vitamins. Good levels of dietary fiber and a famed anti-flatulent!

Fenugreek seeds

Helps get the bowels going, full of fiber, great for stabilizing blood sugar levels, laxative, given to mothers to aid milk production, helps coughs and bronchitis.


Soothes the nerves, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, gastric stimulant (increasing appetite and stimulating digestion).

Mustard seeds

High in niacin, riboflavin and thiamine, lowers cholesterol, plenty of good fats, helps with muscle pain and rheumatism, also has excellent levels of vitamin E (protecting our cells).


Anti-fungal, aids digestion, calming, antidepressant, jam-packed with antioxidants.


High levels of vitamin A, good for the eyes, heart and skin, decent levels of vitamin E to protect the nerves and organs.


Contains chemicals that help fight stress, cancer and infection, boosts the immune system, therapeutic, antidepressant, helps the heart and digestion. Basically, it’s a superhero!


Powerful antioxidant, high levels of thiamine, vitamins C and A, iron and fiber, can be used as a laxative or digestive aid.

About the Book:

Plant-based recipes from a fun-loving, world-wandering chef you’ll want to follow everywhere!

Chef Lee Watson was once, in his own words, “the mightiest nose-to-tail carnivore of them all.” But four years ago, he went completely vegan—and today, he’s an easygoing evangelist for peaceful, plant-full eating!

Now, Peace & Parsnips captures 200 of Lee’s extraordinarily creative recipes, all “rooted” in his love of life and his many travels—from the streets of Mexico and the food bazaars of Turkey to the French countryside, the shores of Spain, the spice markets of India and beyond! Twelve chapters burst with gorgeous photos (200 in all!), tempting us with Lee’s mouthwatering recipes—all meat-free, dairy-free and egg-free, and many gluten-free—that are brimming with goodness. Get set to savor:

  • Breakfast: Plantain Breakfast Burrito with Pico de Gallo
  • Smoothies, Juices & Hot Drinks: Healthy Hot Chocolate
  • Soups: Zen Noodle Broth
  • Salads: Fennel, Walnut & Celeriac Salad with Caesar-ish Dressing
  • Sides: Turkish-Style Spinach with Creamy Tofu Ricotta
  • Nibbles, Dips & Small Plates: Shiitake Tempura with Wasabi Mayo
  • Big Plates: Parsnip & Walnut Rumbledethumps with Baked Beans
  • Curries: Roasted Almond & Kohlrabi Koftas with Tomato & Ginger Masala
  • Burgers & More: Portobello Pecan Burgers with Roasted Pumpkin Wedges
  • Baked & Stuffed: Mexican “Pastor” Pie
  • Sweet Treats: Raw Blueberry & Macadamia Cheesecake; Dark Chocolate & Beet Brownies
  • Sauces, Dressings, Toppers & other Extras: Smoky Chipotle & Cauliflower Cheese Sauce; Tofu & Herb Feta!

Lee’s thoughtful, enthusiastic advice makes it easier than you think (and great fun) to create unforgettable meals from an inspiring array of seasonal fruits, fresh vegetables and easy-to-find staples. This is food that explodes with flavor, color and texture—and will delight and nourish everyone.

Buy the Book
Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Workman

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