Something which we may do without even realising it when we are trying to lose weight is significantly reducing our herb and spice intake. When we think of losing weight, we automatically prepare blander food, as we associate this as being healthier.
Even if the food we are eating is healthier in terms of containing less refined carbohydrates or less sugar, we still generally use herbs and spices less to prepare these meals. This is, in fact, a common misconception, as there are natural herbs for weight loss which can aid your efforts for getting a slimmer version of yourself.
It is true that too much salt, or sodium chloride, can increase your chances of high blood pressure, kidney stones and heart disease . However, not all the spices and herbs which we cook with have this effect on us.
Although we naturally lean towards plainer and blander food and snacks, we should rather be trying to incorporate certain spices and herbs into our meal plan. We also have a much higher chance of sticking to our eating plan if we enjoy the way that our food tastes.
The following herbs and spices could help you in your journey with weight loss:
- Cayenne pepper
- Black pepper
Cayenne pepper is a spicy pepper which falls into the Capsicum family. This shiny red pepper can be turned into a powder by grinding it and can then be used as a spice to add flavour to your cooking. Cayenne pepper is actually more spicy than the average chili powder and has a few advantages for your health.
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which is the pepper’s active ingredient. This particular compound causes your body temperature to rise and increases your metabolism .
Essentially, cayenne pepper stimulates your metabolism and therefore increases the rate at which you are burning those calories. The capsaicin in the cayenne pepper could also help you to feel fuller for longer. It causes less of a particular hunger hormone, ghrelin, to be produced so that you won’t feel as hungry as soon as normal.
Apart from cayenne pepper’s weight loss benefits, it also contributes to a healthier immune system. Cayenne pepper can aid in the prevention of colds and flu . The capsaicin in cayenne pepper also causes your blood to thin slightly. This means you are less susceptible to both heart attacks and strokes.
Turmeric is an orange-yellow root which comes from Curcuma longa, a plant which belongs to the ginger family. The roots are crushed and turned into the powdered bold yellow spice which we most commonly see used in curry powders.
Turmeric’s main active ingredient is called curcumin. Turmeric was traditionally used as an anti-inflammatory and can still be used medicinally today .
Similar to the way that cayenne pepper raises your body temperature, turmeric also causes your body heat to rise. This increase in body temperature encourages the rate at which we metabolise, or break down, calories to increase. With our metabolism working faster, we burn calories more quickly.
The curcumin which is in turmeric has an added benefit of contributing to your heart health. In essence, curcumin is beneficial for the membrane that surrounds the heart, which controls blood pressure. This means that curcumin lowers your chances of heart problems.
Turmeric can be used to add flavour to curries and soups, as well as stews and scrambled eggs. It can even be added to your smoothies and morning oats. Golden milk, an originally Indian drink, can provide you with your dose of turmeric too.
Golden milk is easy to make at home and can be done by boiling a mixture of milk (dairy or dairy-free), turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and honey .
However you choose to get your turmeric intake, just ensure you are including it in your diet!
When we think of ginger, we might think of it being used as a part of home remedy along with honey and lemon to soothe a sore throat. Ginger has been used for many years for this purpose, as well as to help with nausea and inflammation. This root has many uses, one of which may be to contribute to our weight loss.
It is the root of the Zingiber officinale plant that we commonly know as ginger. Ginger is an antioxidant which, along with Cayenne pepper, contains capsaicin.
In addition to the previously stated benefits for your health from capsaicin, ginger also suppresses your appetite. Ginger can stabilise our blood sugars, meaning our blood sugar levels don’t rise quickly and then later drop steeply, which makes us feel like we need to eat more .
Ginger also provides us with energy, which is beneficial in encouraging us to exercise and burn calories.
Ginger can be added to teas and smoothies. It can also be included in curries and stir fries, or used in home-made healthier salad dressings.
Next on our list of natural herbs for weight loss is almost a universal favorite, cinnamon. This spice is acquired from the Cinnamonum family of trees – it is concentrated in their bark and can be found in grocery stores as pieces of bark, sticks, or in a powdered form.
Cinnamon also aids in the control of our blood sugar levels, ensuring we do not feel like we should eat more because of a blood sugar spike or drop due to eating a high-carb or high-sugar food. Cinnamon can lower our insulin levels after we eat a snack or meal .
Cinnamon can also be beneficial to us in terms of controlling cravings. It makes us feel fuller for longer and combats sugar cravings due to it’s flavour compounds.
On top of the weight loss benefits, cinnamon also contains compounds which lower the risk of heat diseases and strokes. These compounds also reduce stress, which, if you’ve read “6 Top Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight (Some You can Control)”, you would know that stress can actually slow your weight loss progress and prevent you from losing weight.
Cinnamon adds great flavour to smoothies and your morning bowl of oats. Cinnamon is great sprinkled on top of yoghurt and fruit or can even be added to your morning coffee.
Oregano is a herb which comes from the plant, Origanum vulgare, which is a member of the mint family. This herb is actually an antimicrobial compound and thus aids in helping our immune systems to fight infections and illnesses .
The active compound in oregano is called carvacrol. Oregano oil has greater concentrations of this compound than the dried herb, although both forms contain it. Carvacrol plays a part in removing of visceral fat, which is the hidden fat in our bodies which surround our stomach and organs .
Over and above that, oregano can enhance digestion and minimise bloating. It has diuretic properties, meaning that it helps with the removal of water and sodium from your body and ultimately reduces blood pressure .
Oregano is most commonly used on pizzas, but this may not be the best option to consume often during your weight loss plan. Rather, season your meat and chicken with oregano. Fresh oregano can be included in salads.
Black pepper originates from a Piperaceae vine, where the small fruit is dried to become peppercorns. These peppercorns can be sold whole to be decanted into grinders, or can be crushed into a powder for a finer pepper.
Piperine is the name of the active compound in the common table spice, black pepper. Apart from piperine being responsible for pepper’s flavour, it is also capable of contributing to weight loss. This compound can help in your weight loss journey by interfering with fat cell synthesis .
This lowers the amount of fat that can form and contributes to the breakdown of fat cells too. This will have an even more pronounced effect when paired with exercise, which burns calories and targets fat stores when enough calories are burnt.
In addition, black pepper includes antioxidant compounds which can lower both blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels. It also has the ability to decrease inflammation.
Pepper can be utilized in a variety of ways, such as to season meat or can be added to healthier salad dressings and sauces. In fact, pepper can be sprinkled over just about every meal, so get grinding!
Rosemary comes from the plant called Salvia rosmarinus. This herb has long, skinny leaves which are dried to create the rosemary we use at home.
Rosemary’s active ingredient is called carnosic acid. This antioxidant compound promotes weight loss by lowering blood glucose levels. This keeps the feeling of hunger at bay for longer .
Carnosic acid stops fat cells from forming in the body. It inhibits the synthesis of fat cells which would be going to the body’s fat stores. Rosemary has the added benefit of being an anti-inflammatory and improving your blood circulation.
Rosemary can be used to season meat and chicken, as well as to add flavour to egg dishes. Rosemary combined with garlic and olive oil make a great dressing to drizzle over salads too.
By using these natural herbs for weight loss in your healthy meal prep, you will be helping yourself lose weight. Turmeric, cinnamon and ginger can be added to smoothies or teas and coffees. Cayenne pepper, black pepper, oregano and rosemary can be used to season meat or add flavour to egg dishes.
Although all the above spices and herbs can aid in weight loss, they will not be effective unless a healthy diet is followed and regular exercise is done. Stay active and eat flavourful, healthy foods!