Top Spices for Health Benefits


By Val Allen, Naturopath –

I was recently invited by the West Australian to write an article outlining my top five spices for maximum, beneficial impact on improving health. This is my published article together with my recipe for ‘Spicy Chimmicurri Marinade/Sauce’.



    This is the most outstanding spice for providing a vast array of nutritional benefits and it is my super-hero super food. It has a long history for improving digestion, liver and bowel clearance and clears gas and cholesterol deposits, so it’s soothing effect is well recognised.
    Turmeric is a potent antioxident for strengthening the elasticity of arteries and veins and improves peripheral circulation to hands, feet and brain. Recent studies have shown that it is potentially the best natural aid to preventing dementia. New studies are proving it’s worth as an anti-cancer agent.As it provides powerful anti-inflammatory properties, Turmeric is now widely used to reduce arthritic pain and inflammation, so this one spice is possibly the best anti-aging, healing weapon available. It does need heating in oil with black pepper to activate the above properties.
    Long recognised as an important spice in Mediterranean diets, garlic has potent antiseptic, antibacterial and cholesterol-clearing properties which enables it to stabilise blood pressure for many and improve life expectancy.
    Many benefit by using garlic to clear upper respiratory congestion and it has proven benefits in reducing the symptoms of colds, flu, sinusitis and bronchitis. It can easily be incorporated into most meals and even fussy children enjoy garlic bread.
    Rosemary is a strong anti-oxidant, liver-protective, antimicrobial herb with a calming effect on digestion and stimulates poor appetites and low moods. It stimulates circulation and has proven to be helpful in relieving headaches, and supports memory retention. For this reason it is used for Remembrance Ceremonies and in ancient times brides wore garlands of it so that they would not forget their family. It can be used well in casseroles and soups and benefits the digestion of fattier meats such as lamb.
    Most people would recognise ginger for it’s calming effect on digestion and it has a long history on settling travel nausea, morning sickness indigestion, colic and flatulence. Ginger is a warming herb that can relieve bronchitis and fevers as it assists in clearing mucus. By stimulating circulation, ginger helps relieve menstrual pain and soothes cramping.
    This is such an easy spice to regularly include as a tea or simply add to Asian dishes or desserts or eat as a preserved ginger treat.
  1. THYME
    Thyme has a disinfectant effect on upper respiratory areas, so it is beneficial in mouth and throat tissues to reduce bacterial and fungal issues by supporting the immune system and soothing inflammation. It assists digestion and combines well with eggs or chicken, so it should be include in immune- boosting chicken soup if people are suffering from flues or colds.



2 tablespoons turmeric
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
1 long red chilli, seeded &chopped
1⁄4 cup grated fresh ginger
5 large cloves garlic finely chopped (25g) 100ml extra virgin olive oil
1cup parsley
1⁄4 cup thyme leaves
1⁄4 cup rosemary leaves
1teaspoon sea salt
60ml apple cider vinegar


Sauté turmeric, pepper, garlic & chilli in 50ml olive oil over medium heat, stirring for 4 minutes till fragrant. Put into blender with remaining 50ml olive oil and all other remaining ingredients and pulse to either a chunky, rustic sauce or blend till smooth.
Chimmichurri can either be used as a sauce to accompany meat, chicken or fish or used as a marinade. Rub 3 tablespoons of chimmichurri into a roasting piece of meat or onto chicken in a non-reactive dish, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours before cooking.

Store any remaining chimmichurri in a jar in refrigerator covered with a thin layer of oil to preserve bright green colour. It will keep for 4 weeks.