Five Ancient Red Spices that You Need to Eat

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Five Ancient Red Spices that You Need to Eat
‘Sugar, spice, and everything nice’. Even children’s show promotes sugar and spice. But, seriously speaking, and sugar aside, spices have been giving us some ‘spice’ in life. Ancient Egyptians used herbs and spices as food preservatives. Mesopotamians even hoarded garlic and cardamom in their gardens. Indians cultivated turmeric, black pepper, and cinnamon for thousands of years for their healing effects.

These spices—whether in the form of roots, powders, seeds, or fruits, do not just add a new taste to any culinary dish. They also provide nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and vitality to our lives!

In this article, we will take a look at five different ancient red spices that you may want to add in your dishes for their many health benefits. So please be sure to continue reading and find out what these spices can do to improve your health

Five Ancient Red Spices that You Need to Eat

Here are five ancient red spices that can provide many benefits to our body, mind, and soul.

1. Saffron


Saffron is probably the world's most expensive and well known ancient spice. It is popular due to its delicate flavor and many health benefits. It may not be easy to find as compared to chili peppers or cayenne peppers, but it has been widely used for many decades. 

This red spice comes from the part of the flower called stigma (the section where it receives pollen) of purple autumn flowers known as Crocus sativus. It has been traded and used by many for at least 4,000 years now. 

Chefs and culinary experts use saffron to give color and flowery aroma to gourmet dishes such as meat and rice meals. It is very expensive because one acre of saffron plants can only yield only a few pounds of spices.

Traditional Chinese texts and writings from the Mongol dynasty say that long-term use of saffron can elevate a person’s mood. In addition to making you happy, the study stated that by simply smelling saff­ron, it is possible to reduce the levels of the stress hormone called cortisol and lessen the symptoms of anxiety.

Furthermore, several studies have proven that saffron can be used as a potential treatment for over-eating due to stress. In a group of women, researchers found out that saff­ron supplementation (for two months) resulted in a significant reduction of stress eating, thereby causing lower body weight.

So if you are prone to stress eating or anxiety, try incorporating sa­ffron to your diet and see if this amazing red spice can help you!

2. Turmeric


Turmeric has been long used for various purposes. You may not have heard of its several benefits, but studies have shown that turmeric can help manage conditions. These conditions include joint pains, digestive problems, diabetes mellitus, and certain types of cancer. 

Turmeric contains an active ingredient called curcumin, which is one of the reasons behind turmeric’s surprising health benefits. Curcumin helps stop cancer from growing and spreading to different areas of the body. It also aids in preventing the development of insulin-dependent diabetes and dangerous inflammation within the body.

3. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne peppers have been used to flavor dishes for thousands of years. But, what made them known is that they have many uses aside from cooking. Cayenne peppers help improve certain medical conditions such as indigestion, gout, flatulence, sore throat, among others. 

Researchers say that the active compound in cayenne pepper aids in cranking up our body’s thermostat by speeding up metabolism. This means that cayenne pepper can help burn extra fat and calories.

Aside from that studies show that the CAY-1 compound found in cayenne can effectively resist 16 different fungal strains while remaining non-toxic to cells.

4. Paprika


Paprika is a ground ancient red spice that is made from dried fruits and certain varieties of the Capsicum family of peppers. These include hot red peppers, sweet bell peppers, hot green peppers, and other varieties.

Paprika is extremely beneficial. They have antioxidant effects and are good sources of certain nutrients such as iron and vitamin A. In fact, a teaspoon of this ground spice contains 37% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A.

5. Annatto Seed

annatto seeds achiote seeds

Annatto seeds are commonly used as a food coloring. They come from tropical plans called achiote and are often added to Mexican and Caribbean dishes. The seeds are deep orange and almost burgundy red. Like saffron, some varieties offer orange-yellow hue.

People add annatto seeds to dishes for diabetes, fevers, diarrhea, and heartburn. Some use them as an antioxidant and as a bowel cleanser. Annatto can also be used to treat burns and infections or as insect repellants.
Five Ancient Red Spices that You Need to Eat (6)

Most underestimate the power of red spices in supporting health and promoting wellness. But, these are inexpensive ‘medicine in the kitchen.’ If you are looking to spice up and make the most basic dishes taste new and exciting, try any or all of the spices listed above. 

Indeed, these culinary herbs have impressive effects on health. However, before adding spices to your cooking, always check with your physician if it is right for you. Some people have allergies that they may not know off.

About the Authors:

Mike Zhang

Mike Zhang is the founder of the MZF Group. He graduated from the University of Toronto on the dean's list with a Masters Degree in science.  Mike was a two time National Muay Thai Champion, and a strength and conditioning coach to several learned athletes. He has over 14 years of experience as a Muay Thai Coach.

Marijune Tiamzon, RN, MHPNP

With nearly 5 years of experience in the medical field, Marijune holds a registered nurse license and a certificate as a mental health nurse practitioner. She is an adventurous young professional, and her hobbies include diving, windsurfing, and saber fencing.

As an avid writer, she is most passionate about sharing acquired knowledge in the medical field and how to apply it to improve the quality of life of our readers.