Spice up your game

Good news for curry and coffee lovers – you can boost your energy levels, burn fat and kill off exercise-related pain just by adding these six spicy supplements to your diet


More after the break

The September 2010 Journal of Pain (honest) revealed that a daily ginger supplement reduces exercise-induced pain by 25 per cent. The study, carried out by the McCormick Science Institute (MSI), trialled people taking raw ginger capsules or placebo pills for 11 days and found that the ginger-takers recorded fewer aches and pains after workouts.

Add… grated ginger to spice up rice



Scientists at the University of Tasmania in Australia found that capsaicin, the chemical that makes chillies hot, may help the liver clear insulin – a hormone that tells your body to store fat – after a meal. In fact, the spice rack could be your best piece of fat-busting kit. “Hot spices have a thermogenic, or fat-burning, effect, thus raising metabolism,” says Ann Louise Gittleman, author of The Fat Flush Plan.

Add… chilli powder to beans on a jacket potato



In trials of spice supplements by US doctor Keith Scott, author of Medicinal Seasonings: The Healing Power of Spices, 80 per cent of sportsmen taking a thyme-based antioxidant mix recorded a decrease in exercise-related joint, muscle, ligament and tendon pain. A review of over 3,100 different foods – in the Nutrition Journal, January 2010 – found thyme to have one of the highest antioxidant contents of all the foods studied.

Add… thyme leaves to an Italian pasta dish



Researchers from the US Department of Agriculture have shown that just one teaspoon of cinnamon taken with food can help boost metabolism fourfold. “This spice makes fat cells much more responsive to insulin, the hormone that regulates sugar metabolism,” Ann Louise Gittleman explains.    

Add… a cinnamon sprinkling to your next low-fat latte



Hot spices such as cumin – the primary active compound in curry powders – were on the menu for the England national team, along with mustard and Tabasco sauce, at the World Cup in South Africa. Contrary to some opinions, spicy food can provide some stability for the stomach when eating overseas and ensure the only runs a player experiences are on the pitch. Cumin has also been found to help with digestion and can destroy meat-borne bacteria.

Add… to curries, to casseroles or as a dry rub on meats



Ginseng has been regarded as a natural strengthening and rejuvenating herb by Chinese medicine practitioners for centuries. But studies carried out by Korean scientists and reported in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness in 2005 confirm that the herb, taken in supplement form, fends off exhaustion and boosts energy levels, when trialled among endurance athletes.

Add… threads of ginseng root to a stir fry

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