Experts say that the spices used in Indian and Asian food can help speed up the metabolic rate, suppress appetite and even stop fat cells from reappearing after weight loss. They claim a single teaspoon of cumin, eaten every day, can shift three pounds of weight and indulging in a spicy meal made with pepper and chillies has been found to burn the same amount of calories as taking a 20-minute walk.
Black pepper: Those little pods we carelessly grind to season our meals have a substance called piperine. Piperine has similar effects to capsaicin in chillies and is what gives black pepper its heat. It’s the heat which helps prevent the formation of new fat cells, especially if you decide to indulge in a mouth-searing meal featuring pepper and chilli.
Cardamom Health Benefits and Uses
‘When black pepper is combined with other spices such as capsaicin, it has been found to burn the same amount of calories as taking a 20-minute walk,’ she explained.
Cardamom: The little green highly-scented pods have been known for their digestive qualities but cardamom can also help burn fat. ‘Cardamom is thought to help increase fat burning by improving metabolism,’ she said. It is also thought to be good for digestion by reducing flatulence and general digestive discomfort.’
Dandelion: While you can pick your own dandelions to make salads, it’s best to head to a farmers market or specialist website if you’re planning on including its yellow blooms in your diet. For many people, dandelions are an irritating garden weed but traditionally, the roots and leaves of the plant have been used as medicines for bloating and digestive disorders.
‘Dandelions contain fibre so can help you feel full longer and so help control your appetite,’ Dr Glenville explained. And the much-maligned weed isn’t just good for weight loss as it has a host of other beneficial properties. ‘The leaves of the plant are very rich in vitamins, including A, C, D, and B-complex. They also have high levels of minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon,’ she said.
As it is so nutrient rich dandelion leaves can be a good herb for women who are approaching menopause or whose diet is poor. But steer clear of the root; it will make you want to eat. ‘The root can be an appetite stimulant,’ she said.
Cinnamon: Common in curries and often appearing in apple pies, this super spice is yet another secret metabolic rate booster. ‘Studies also show that cinnamon help reduces blood glucose levels and improve insulin resistance in those with Type 2 diabetes,’ she explained. Incorporate cinnamon into your diet by sprinkling a teaspoon on your porridge or into herbal tea each day. However, she has a word of warning for those on blood-thinning medication.
‘It’s not a good idea to consume large amounts of cinnamon if you have a bleeding disorder or you are taking a blood thinner, such as heparin or warfarin,’ she said,’ as cinnamon contains a substance called coumarin, which can have a blood-thinning effect.