Since time immemorial, humans have used spices to better their food—and their bodies. Our ancestors knew which spices would settle an upset stomach, relieve inflammation, and more. Now a spate of studies has finally proved that whether you've got achy muscles, a cold that just won't quit, or a case of the blues, reaching for a natural healer may be just what the doctor ordered.
Good For You: Cinnamon may lower your diabetes risk. By triggering enzymes that stimulate insulin receptors and inhibiting enzymes that deactivate them, it can improve cells' ability to absorb glucose from the blood. Taking less than a half teaspoon daily for 40 days can decrease blood sugar by 25 percent. Cinnamon has also been found to reduce triglycerides and harmful cholesterol.
Tastes Great, Too: Most of us associate cinnamon with baking, but it also pairs well with savory dishes like lamb chops and tomato soup, says Lior Lev Sercarz, owner of New York City boutique La Boîte Biscuits & Spices.