The right herbs, spices can add health benefits to your diet

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Herbs and spices like oregano and cumin can provide vital health benefits. (KABC)

The right herbs and spices can do so much more than just make food tastier.

Dr. Melina Jampolis says people in this country should learn more about their potential health benefits.

She says globally spices have been highly valued for thousands of years, but in America we seem relegated to salt and pepper.

She wants us to wake up our senses to smell, taste and appreciate so many others.

Rosemary for example, has been studied to block UV sun damage.

"Just by adding rosemary to the meat directly or to a marinade, you decrease the production of the cancer-causing compounds by 70 percent," Jampolis said.

Then there's the antimicrobial benefits of oregano.

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates used oregano for gut ailments and now UCLA has come out with research that says of all the spices oregano is the most potent prebiotic.

You may have heard cinnamon is helpful in blood sugar regulation. Turmeric combined with a touch of black pepper fights inflammation in more ways than we realize.

Jampolis sites a recent study of curcumin, the active part of turmeric.

"They showed 50 different potential enzymes, genes, proteins that curcumin could interact with and potentially play a beneficial role."

For those who are going through menopause or are premenopausal, Jampolis suggests three spices to help fight belly fat.

In her book "Spice Up Slim Down," Jampolis features recipes with cayenne pepper, cumin and ginger as this trifecta of spice can help fight the ill effects of hormone loss and fat increase.
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