As 2020 looms large on the horizon, it is time to consider what simple things you can do to improve your health as time marches onward.
Whether you are trying to count calories, be conscious of carbohydrates, adjust your diet for medical reasons, or just trying to eat more fresh healthy food, using spices judiciously, frequently, and purposefully, will do more than just make your food taste good - it can have truly great benefits to your health and well-being.
By definition, a spice is the flavorful dried fruit, flower, seed, leaves, bark, root, or resin from plants. Generally speaking, plants adopted a pleasing flavor profile to encourage propagation through animals who would eat the plant and spread the seeds, pollen, or cuttings. Spices have been used since antiquity for both medicinal and culinary use.
Although spices are not officially regarded as medicinal in western medicine, they have traditionally been linked with improving health in many cultures throughout the world. Turmeric, with its vibrant yellow color and abundance of the compound 'curcumin' is known widely as an anti-inflammatory agent. Peppercorns "piper nigrum" and chile peppers (capsicums) are also known to reduce inflammation and
improve the lot of those who suffer from arthritis. The active ingredient in cinnamon (cinnamomum) is also found to help control blood sugar, act as an antioxidant, improve digestion, among other benefits. Cumin is naturally high in iron, and rosemary is full of antioxidants and is reported to improve memory.
Medicinally speaking - WebMD has a good list of spices and herbs that "are reported" to have health benefits. https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/over-50-nutrition-17/spices-and-herbs-health-benefits
The easiest way to improve the flavor of a dish is to add spices. You cannot create a dish that is bad for you by using too much spice - you may not like the flavor of the combination, but it won't hurt you. One big myth in the cooking world is that spices were used in the "old days" to mask bad food. Nothing can be further from the truth. Spices are valuable. According to Pliny the Elder, a Roman pound (327 grams) of cinnamon cost up to 1500 denarii, the wage of fifty months' labor. Spices were never used to mask food, but to improve the flavor and show the wealth of the host.
Over time, cooks have found pairings that work well with different
foods. There are many lists, all of which vary according to personal tastes and preferences. These charts cover most of the common main focus for spices and what flavors tend to pair well.
Spice allergies are extremely rare. There are some spices that are distantly related to tree nuts, and some uncommon allergies may be lightly triggered by certain spices. Know your own tolerances and check plant relationships if necessary.