5 Nutritionist-Approved Spices to Boost Immunity

...and to make your meals taste extra delicious too! 

Flaming hot, just salt and pepper or OD-ing on garlic - we all have our pet spices that are great to jazz up any simple meal. Indian food is known to be prepared with a plethora of spices that not only add flavour but also are great for your health too. 

"Monsoon brings with it common infections like cold, viral infections, gastritis, and other ailments such as hepatitis, malaria, dengue to name a few. The high humidity levels increase microbial growth and the risk of infection. Most of these infections are food and waterborne. So, it's important to include immunity-building food in your diet," says Minal Shah, Senior Nutrition Therapist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.

Here are her pick of spices that add a zing to your meals and boost your immunity:

Turmeric

"Turmeric has Curcumin that has an anti-oxidant and anti-microbial effect that inhibits microbial growth like Helicobacter Pylori (H Pylori), Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), etc. It is also great to prevent gastric ulcers, improves immune response, and boosts anti-malarial activity among other protective and preventive functions. A teaspoon of turmeric as in milk or Latte, with honey or in hot water would be a good add on for children and elderly members of the family, especially during monsoon."

Ginger 

"Ginger helps combat chills, fever, eliminates congestion and has anti-viral properties. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic and anti-oxidant effect. It can be consumed in many forms too such as ginger tea that can ease throat pain, crushed ginger added to honey or added as is to soups or other meal preparations."

Garlic 

"Garlic is yet another spice known for anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. It is an effective immune-stimulant and can be added to vegetable preparation, gravies, chutneys, soups, etc." 

Pepper

"Pepper helps provide relief from sinusitis and nasal congestion. It has an expectorant property that helps break up the mucus and phlegm depositions in the respiratory tract. Pepper also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which is why it is often used for treating cold and cough. It can be easily added to your soups, rasam, pasta, khichdi, or used as is with honey as a tonic."

Amla and mango 

"Vitamin C helps in preventing and treating respiratory and systemic infections. So, you must ensure adequate intake through diet or supplements. It’s a water-soluble vitamin that is not stored in the body, so it has to be consumed on a regular basis for its best benefit. It may not prevent sickness but one would definitely have milder symptoms and faster recovery. Easy way to identify the sources of Vit-C would be to include red, orange and yellow coloured fruits and vegetables. Bell Peppers, mango and amla are a few edibles that are the highest source of Vitamin C. However, the vitamin C content in food may be reduced by prolonged storage, cooking and heat. So, food should be consumed in the natural form like fresh fruits and vegetables and as quickly as possible to ensure you get the most out of them."