Spices are important – they can make or break a dish. Case in point: Every time you try to recreate your favorite restaurant meal you can blame your fail on using the wrong type or amount of seasonings. But nailing a flavorful recipe isn’t the only benefit of spices. Turns out they’re also great for the immune system. Here are seven doctor approved spices you should make any excuse to use, especially during the winter season.

1. Cloves
Cloves contain high amounts of manganese and are a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and magnesium. While each of these elements play their roles in supporting the immune system, the most beneficial component is within the oil, which contains an anti-inflammatory substance called eugenol.

2. Parsley
Parsley is one of, if not the world’s most popular herb, but perhaps we’re naturally attracted to more than just the fresh, spicy taste. Studies have shown that this green herb can fight cancer and heart disease, inhibit tumor formation, neutralize carcinogens, combat indigestion and curb bad breath.

3. Coriander
This spice hidden in the back of your rack deserves more credit and usage than it gets. Aside from adding Indian charm to a dish, it’s a natural disinfectant, is detoxifying and can reduce high cholesterol. And it has all sorts of anti properties: anti microbial, anti-septic, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-convulsant, anti-histaminic. Phew!

4. Allspice
Got a stomach ache or some cold symptoms? Have some allspice. It’s best known for treating digestive problems, though it can also rid the body of bacterial and fungal infections as well as coughs, chills, bronchitis and allergies. Plus, it’s been known to reduce pain, improve circulation and fend off depression.

5. Cinnamon
Cinnamon is likely the spice you replenish most often because its sweet, earthy flavor is delicious in so many dishes. Who knew that it has so many health benefits as well?! It can lower blood sugar and cholesterol (great for type 2 diabetics), kill off bacteria, ward off bad breath-causing germs, stop the growth of bacteria, fungi and yeast, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Yum!

6. Rosemary
Italian dishes sure are satisfying, but overindulging can lead to a few more pounds than you bargained for. Thank goodness the prominent spice used in Italian meals is rosemary, which has some pretty impressive qualities. While your stomach is busy digesting a big pasta dish, rosemary is checking the body for cancerous gene mutations and saving the blood vessels from damage that could lead to heart attack.

7. Oregano
Add oregano to the list of bacteria fighting spices. In fact, a USDA study found that it has the highest antioxidant activity of most fresh herbs! And if you are looking for some more potent medicinal advantages, take oregano oil in liquid or pill form. The oil is a great remedy for skin infections, joint and muscle stiffness, and respiratory weakness.

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