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Recent studies suggest that when it comes to cuisine, kicking it up a notch can be as good for your health as it is tasty for your palate. Some spices, particularly hot ones, contain phytochemicals that may help ward off cell damage associated with chronic diseases.Chili Powder
Potential health perk: Relieves achy joints. Research shows that capsaicin, found in chili peppers, has an anti-inflammatory effect, which may help ease arthritic swelling and pain. Hot way to dish it: Sprinkle a few shakes of chili powder and salt on baked French fries.Cinnamon
Potential health perk: Protects against Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A 2003 study found that about half a teaspoon lowered blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Hot way to dish it: Mix half a teaspoon of cinnamon into your coffee, or jazz up whipped cream with a couple of pinches.Curry Powder
Potential health perk: Safeguards your brain. The yellow curry pigment curcumin may fight Alzheimer's by thwarting development of the disease's signature amyloid brain plaques, says a study. Hot way to dish it: Whisk 1 1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder into mayonnaise to dress up sandwiches.Garlic
Potential health perk: Improves your heart's health. Brigham Young University researchers found that garlic consumption can lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels by an average of 10 percent. Hot way to dish it: Add minced garlic and chopped cucumber to plain yogurt for a light dip or salad dressing.Wasabi
Potential health perk: Prevents ulcers. A 2004 South Korean study suggests Japanese horseradish can kill ulcer-causing Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Plant chemicals may also prevent tooth decay. Hot way to dish it: Mix a smidgen of wasabi paste with mashed avocado for a snappier guacamole.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal magazine, May 2005.