[Updated February 22, 2019]
I really can’t say enough good things about spices. Not only can the right spice nearly instantly transform a basic dish into something much more flavorful, but they can be added to almost everything — from rubs on meat to cooked vegetables to salad dressings. Plus, many of my preferred spices for taste are also good spices for your bone health.
Here’s a look at what’s in my bone-supporting spice rack:
Cinnamon. Studies of this warm, fragrant spice show that it reduces bone breakdown and may help prevent osteoporotic bone loss . Sprinkle it on apples or frozen bananas, add it to tea or coffee, put some in your yogurt — it works well in savory dishes as well as sweet, so don’t hesitate to try it on meat or in soups. Don’t be surprised if the secret spice in your grandma’s prized
Cloves. Tiny clove buds pack a powerful nutrient punch — they contain vitamin K, manganese, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are essential bone nutrients. Also cloves are high in phenolic compounds which have been shown to enhance bone mineral content and bone quality. Ground cloves are great in baked goods and stir fry, or you can put whole cloves in hot apple cider on a cold winter day.
Garlic. There’s almost nothing this spice can’t do — it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. And it’s packed with key bone nutrients — from vitamins A, B6, C, and K to phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium, and iron. In animal studies, garlic oil was found to prevent bone loss following ovary removal. Studies of garlic (both raw and in supplements) have found it to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and even help prevent toxicity from lead poisoning. It’s a staple in many soups, dips, or sauces — or you can roast it and eat it as-is. Many people even enjoy it raw!
Ginger. This spice, widely used in Asian cooking, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions too, as well as significant amounts of potassium, magnesium, selenium, and phosphorus — all good for bone health. In addition, ginger is high in sulfur which aid in systemic detoxification. Make ginger into a tea, salad dressing or slice it thinly and cook it in stir fry or with fish.
Turmeric. A favorite of Indian and South Asian cuisine, this spice helps protect the body from oxidative stress that leads to cell damage, bone loss, and disease. It has a number of compounds that offer immune system benefits — the best known is curcumin , but there are others too. Use it in curries, toss with rice, or add it to cooked vegetables.
What are some of your favorite ways to use these spices? Why not shoot us a quick comment on how you spice things up.
Oh yes, and if you want to take a quick trip around the world learning about spices and how they are used, check out the information-packed new book entitled Spice: Understand the Science of Spice, Create Exciting New Blends by Dr. Stuart Farrimond.
Spices for bone health — easy reference chart:
Kamakar, Set, al. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum Linn) extract rich in eugenol and eugenol derivatives shows bone-preserving efficacy. Nat Prod Res. 2012;26(6):500-9. doi: 10.1080/14786419.2010.511216. Epub 2011 Jun 28.
Mukherjee M., et al., Effects of garlic oil on postmenopausal osteoporosis using ovariectomized rats: comparison with the effects of lovastatin and 17beta-estradiol. Phytother Res. 2004, May 18(5):389-94.
Riva, A et al., Effects of a curcumin – based supplementation in asymptomatic subjects with low bone density: a preliminary 24 week supplement study. Eur Rev for Med and Pharm Sci 2017,21:1684-1689