Curry - the ultimate superfood

Caroline Cassidy

Indian food found its way into the hearts of the British more than 200 years ago and is currently the nation's favourite dish. While the average take-away is notoriously high in calories and fat, homemade curries can be surprisingly good for you.

curry for good health
curry for good health

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In fact, curry has long been known to cure a variety of ills. The key to the curry's health-giving properties are the spices, many of which have been used in Ayurveda, an Indian system of medicine dating back to 3000BC.

Research has shown that spices such as turmeric, nigella seeds, chilli, cloves, ginger, cumin and fennel can help prevent and help a wide range of health conditions, including Crohn's disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, psoriasis and even cancer.

Colds and flu
According to Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, a spicy dish works wonders in helping to "get rid of germs from the system and clear the airways". Spices such as clove, cinnamon, chilli, cumin and nutmeg are known to put to an end to the growth of bacteria and viruses, while turmeric can inhibit certain types of flu.

Tummy upsets
While most of us turn to peppermint for tummy troubles, fennel seeds, ginger and ajwain are also known for their tummy soothing abilities.

Basil contains certain compounds that have a similar pain-killing effect to ibuprofen and aspirin, while both fennel seeds and nigella seeds have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Add tamarind extract to your dish to help the natural pain-kilers take effect more quickly.

From hay fever to asthma and eczema, allergies make many lives a misery. But nigella seeds may provide a natural alternative to prescribed antihistamines.

According to research by scientists at the Humboldt University School of Medicine in Berlin, patients treated with oil extracted from the seeds saw a significant improvement in the symptoms of rhinitis (hay fever), bronchial asthma and atopic eczema.

Stress can not only make us feel depressed but can cause physical symptoms such as aches and pains, loss of appetite and sleeping problems.

Get yourself back on track with a spicy dish containing coriander, which is proven to have an anti-anxiety effect, saffron to fight off those feelings of depression and nutmeg to calm and relax your mind, body and soul.

With all these spices commonly used in curries, you could do worse than reach for the recipe book next time you feel low - this Indian marvel really is the ultimate superfood.