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From Haldi to Ajwain: Health Benefits of 4 Traditional Indian Spices, Nutritionist Shares Wellness Secrets | health news


The various spice combinations used in Indian cuisine are well known for giving each dish a unique flavor profile as well as providing numerous health benefits recognized by traditional Indian medicine. The taste, aroma and overall appeal of Indian food is greatly influenced by the spices used in it, ranging from the intense heat of chilies to the aromatic sweetness of cinnamon.

India has an ancient tradition of using a variety of spices in its culinary preparations. Besides the taste in today’s age, we have forgotten its medicinal uses which are deeply rooted in Ayurveda and philosophy of holistic living. Suman Agarwal, founder and nutritionist, Suman by Selfcare sheds some light on what these spices have to offer to our well-being:

1. Salt: Essential to life, salt (primarily sodium chloride) is crucial in cooking and plays a vital role in food preservation, especially for evergreen food items present in every Indian household like pickles aka achar. This allows the flavors of the other ingredients to shine through. From a health perspective, we need salt to maintain blood pressure and blood volume, nerve conduction, and added iodine helps the thyroid gland function smoothly. However, excessive salt intake can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.

2. Khada Masala: Often referred to as whole masala, khada masala is often made by lightly roasting and grinding Indian spices such as green and black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, nutmeg, black pepper, cumin and coriander seeds. Spices These spices, when roasted, release their aromatic oils before being ground or added to food.

Each spice of Khada Masala has health benefits; Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and sugar-lowering properties and can help improve insulin sensitivity and, therefore, symptoms like PCOS, while cloves have anti-cancer properties and are good for oral health. Finally, nutmeg is especially helpful in inducing better sleep.

3. Turmeric (Curcumin): Turmeric contains the active compound curcumin, now famous for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties often featured outside India in ‘turmeric lattes’ aka our old cough and cold remedy ‘haldi dudh’. It is an ingredient present in every Indian household and is used daily in Indian cooking not only for its taste but also for its health benefits.

Curcumin may reduce the risk of heart disease due to its anti-inflammatory properties and has been studied for its potential in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. However, curcumin has low bioavailability, meaning that consuming it with black pepper, which contains piperine, can significantly increase its absorption.

4. Ajwain: Ajwain greatly helps with digestive problems due to the phenolic compound called thymol, which improves digestive enzymes. Brewed in water to make herbal tea, it improves digestion, relieves acidity and reduces bloating, especially helpful after pregnancy.