Christmas spices and their effects
Christmas spices give biscuits, stollen and mulled wine just the right flavour. That's why they are indispensable, especially during the Christmas season. However, they not only provide the necessary flavour, but also have a positive effect on health.
Spices are generally dried plant products whose ingredients can season and enhance food. The spices are usually obtained by grinding or drying the corresponding plants or parts of plants. The effectiveness is due to the ingredients, especially the essential oils. On average, spices contain around 2 - 5 % essential oils.Essential oils have various positive properties. They can therefore play an important role in the prevention of diseases.
We have listed some popular Christmas spices and their positive effects below:Christmas spice star anise
Star anise is a star-shaped fruit of the magnolia tree, which originally comes from East Asia. The slightly liquorice-like flavour is suitable for gingerbread, punch or spicy teas. The essential oils it contains have a relaxing, anti-inflammatory and mucolytic effect. The effects are due to the main ingredient, anethole.
Sternanis is therefore often used to treat coughs and colds. It also has an antispasmodic effect on the gastrointestinal tract and promotes digestion.
The Christmas spice vanilla
Vanilla comes from Mexico and belongs to the orchid family. The delicious sweetness of vanilla is very popular, especially the real bourbon vanilla has an intense flavour and is one of the most expensive varieties. The flavour that is released by enzymes is vanillin. During the Christmas season, it is hard to imagine vanilla crescents and biscuits without vanilla.In addition to its reputed aphrodisiac effect, vanilla is anti-inflammatory and mood-enhancing. In the kitchen, the pod, the pulp or the vanilla sugar is used.
Cinnamon, the classic Christmas spice
Cinnamon is the oldest known spice, which is made from the dried bark of the cinnamon tree. The spicy flavour adds the finishing touch to cinnamon stars and mulled wine in particular. Cinnamon is used whole as a cinnamon stick or ground as a powder.Cinnamon has antiviral properties, stimulates digestion and circulation and is said to lower blood sugar. It also has a warming and metabolism-stimulating effect.
There are several types of cinnamon: the expensive Ceylon cinnamon and the lower-quality Cassia cinnamon and Padang cinnamon, which are also often sold in shops. Cassia cinnamon has a higher content of essential oils and coumarin, which gives this variety a more intense flavour.
As high consumption of the coumarin it contains can lead to kidney and liver disease, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has set maximum levels for foods containing cinnamon. However, low-coumarin Ceylon cinnamon can be used in the home.Cloves as a Christmas spice
Cloves also belong to the Christmas spice family. They are the dried flower buds of the clove tree and belong to the myrtle family. They are native to Indonesia.
As cloves have a very intense and pungent flavour, they should only be cooked with the food and then removed. Their flavour is perfect in gingerbread and mulled wine.
The main active ingredient in cloves is eugenol. Cloves promote digestion, have an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant and antispasmodic effect. They are therefore often used for toothache..
Ginger as a Christmas spice
Ginger is not only very popular at Christmas time, but also all year round. The sweet and spicy root is used to flavour many dishes, especially in Asia. It is also used in various curries and fresh tea. During the Christmas season, ginger gives gingerbread and printen a very special flavour.
The pungent, spicy flavour is created by pungent substances, including gingerols. These have antioxidant properties and therefore help with colds. Ginger also stimulates the circulation and helps with gastrointestinal problems.
Christmas spice cardamom
Cardamom is a dried fruit capsule with flavoured seeds that originally comes from India and Sri Lanka. It is the most expensive spice after vanilla and saffron. The seeds carry the aroma and sweet flavour. The sweet flavour is therefore ideal for biscuits, gingerbread and stollen.It is best to grind the seeds fresh, as the flavour evaporates quickly. The many essential oils in cardamom have an antibacterial, antispasmodic and expectorant effect; they also have a positive effect on digestion.
Christmas spice nutmeg
Muscat, native to Indonesia, is obtained from the seeds of the nutmeg fruit. The strong and nutty flavour gives many dishes its very special taste. However, only small amounts of the spice should be consumed, as very high amounts are toxic to the body. As the flavour is very intense, even a small amount of the spice is sufficient. Nutmeg has an aphrodisiac, antibacterial, calming and antispasmodic effect. It can therefore help with gastrointestinal complaints.
Christmas spices are therefore not only aromatic and delicious, they also have a positive effect on our health.
You can find delicious Christmas recipes on our homepage. Fancy protein powder with a gingerbread flavour? See below :)