- Combine pepper with ginger to boost calorie-burning properties
- Turmeric prevents the growth of new fat cells after weight loss
- Nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville tells how spices can help diets
If you’re trying to shed the pounds before bikini season hits you might want to ditch the salads and start tucking into curries. Experts say that the spices used in Indian and Asian food can help speed up the metabolic rate, suppress appetite and even stop fat cells from reappearing after weight loss.
They claim a single teaspoon of cumin, eaten every day, can shift three pounds of weight and indulging in a spicy meal made with with pepper and chillies has been found to burn the same amount of calories as taking a 20-minute walk.
From Siberian ginseng root, which speeds up metabolism and cayenne pepper which lowers fat levels to appetite controlling dandelions and lard-busting turmeric, FEMAIL asked nutritionist and author Dr Marilyn Glenville to identify the ten spices which can help aid weight loss.
A staple in Korean and Chinese cuisine, ginseng roots can be purchased at speciality supermarkets such as Asian grocers. It can be found in capsule form in health food shops. Dr Glenville told MailOnline: ‘Panax ginseng has been shown to be helpful for weight loss in mice because it can boost energy levels and speed metabolism.
‘There are a number of different types of ginseng and the one I would recommend especially for women is Siberian ginseng which is classed as an adaptogen,’ An adaptogen is something which works according to what your body needs. ‘Ginseng provides energy when required, and helps combat stress and fatigue when you are under pressure.’
Stressful situations cause us to indulge in unhealthy foods, which in turn leads to weight gain, she said. ‘Because of the effects of stress hormone cortisol, the foods which you are driven to eat will make you pile on the weight around the middle of your body.’
‘Panax ginseng is more potent than Siberian ginseng and is often more suitable for men as it has a much stronger effect on boosting energy. In some women it is strong enough to cause palpitations and should only be used for just a few weeks,’ she explained.
Try: Make a hearty chicken soup with one ginseng root.
2. Cayenne pepper
Capsaicin, a substance found in peppers and is what gives peppers their heat. It’s also what helps fight weight gain and obesity as it decreases calorie intake and lowers blood fat levels.
Dr Glenville clarified: ‘The capsaicin’s heat may help with a process called thermogenesis where your body can convert fat into heat.’ This means you are burning more fat which adds to weight loss.
‘Including these thermogenic ingredients in your diet may boost your metabolism by up to five per cent, and increase fat burning by up to 16 per cent,’ she said.
Try: Add half a teaspoon of paprika in your mayonnaise.
Common in curries and often appearing in apple pies, this super spice is yet another secret metabolic rate booster. ‘Studies also show that cinnamon help reduce blood glucose levels and improve insulin resistance in those with Type 2 diabetes,’ she explained.
Incorporate cinnamon into your diet by sprinkling a teaspoon on your porridge or into herbal tea each day. However, she has a word of warning for those on blood-thinning medication. ‘It’s not a good idea to consume large amounts of cinnamon if you have a bleeding disorder or you are taking a blood thinner, such as heparin or warfarin,’ she said,’ as cinnamon contains a substance called courmarin, which can have a blood-thinning effect.
Try: Sprinkle a quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon in pastry fillings.
4. Black pepper
It’s the heat which helps prevent the formation of new fat cells, especially if you decide to indulge in a mouth-searing meal featuring pepper and chilli. ‘When black pepper is combined with other spices such as capsaicin, it has been found to burn the same amount of calories as taking a 20-minute walk,’ she explained.
Try: Season your food with pepper instead of salt.
While you can pick your own dandelions to make salads, it’s best to head to a farmers market or specialist website if you’re planning on including its yellow blooms in your diet. For many people, dandelions are an irritating garden weed but traditionally, the roots and leaves of the plant have been used as medicines for bloating and digestive disorders.
‘Dandelions contain fibre so can help you feel full longer and so help control your appetite,’ Dr Glenville explained. And the much-maligned weed isn’t just good for weight loss as it has a host of other beneficial properties.
‘The leaves of the plant are very rich in vitamins, including A, C, D, and B-complex. They also have high levels of minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon,’ she said. As it is so nutrient rich dandelion leaves can be a good herb for women who are approaching the menopause or whose diet is poor.
But steer clear of the root; it will make you want to eat. ‘The root can be an appetite stimulant,’ she said.
Try: Add dandelion leaves to a salad or drink dandelion tea once a day.
Super capsaicin comes to the fore once again with its metabolic boosting and fat-burning qualities. She explained: ‘Mustard is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables which are thought to have many health benefits. Other cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
‘If you are buying ready-made mustard make sure that it does not contain sugar as this is going to be counter-productive for your weight.’
Try: Skip sugar-laden ketchup and make mustard the condiment of choice. A spoonful a day is all you need.
The yellow spice which is made from a root, turmeric is what gives curry a deep yellow hue. Its active ingredient is curcumin and although the research has not shown that curcumin can actually help with weight loss, it is thought to stop the regrowth of fat after someone has lost weight,’ she said.
‘This could be helpful as many people end up putting back the weight they have lost after a diet.’
Try: Mix half a teaspoon into water for a cleansing drink or add to stir fries.
Ginger may also have the same thermogenic effects as capsaicin because it has warming effects in the body, which all adds up to more fat-burning activity. She advised: ‘Try simmering a few slices of ginger root in boiling water to make a ginger root tea which will aid digestion. Ginger in food has the same effect.’
Try: Add a few slices when steaming vegetables or fish.
Another curry staple, according to Dr Glenville, dieters who incorporate cumin seeds into their healthy eating plans lose more weight than those who don’t. She said: ‘Research has shown that adding just one teaspoon a day of cumin to yogurt for three months will help you lose three more pounds than those who don’t.
‘And those taking the cumin each day lost three times as much body fat (nearly 15 per cent) as the group just taking the yogurt along without the cumin added,’ she continued.
Try: Add a teaspoon a day into your yoghurt or cooked into Bolognese sauce.
The little green highly-scented pods have been known for their digestive qualities but cardamom can also help burn fat.
‘Cardamom is thought to help increase fat burning by improving metabolism,’ she said. It also thought to be good for digestion by reducing flatulence and general digestive discomfort.’
Try: Cook three or four pods in curries or add to rice pudding.
HEALING CURRIES AND SOOTHING SHAKES: EAT YOUR WAY TO WEIGHT LOSS
Ingredients: 4 mackerel, filleted, pin bones removed, cut into three inch pieces; vegetable oil for shallow-frying
For the spice paste: Two dried red chillies; three cloves; 10 large garlic cloves; one teaspoon cumin seeds; one teaspoon coriander seeds; one teaspoon fennel seeds; eight peppercorns; one cinnamon stick; six green cardamom pods; two teaspoons ground turmeric; six Dutch red chillies; one teaspoon brown sugar or palm sugar; four tablespoons tamarind pulp; red wine vinegar for grinding the paste
Gooseberry Chutney: 200 gm gooseberries, fresh or frozen; 50 gm apples, cored and chopped; two tablespoons vegetable oil; one teaspoon punch phoran; one teaspoon ginger, chopped; one teaspoon coriander powder; quarter teaspoonred chilli powder; a pinch of garam masala; quarter teaspoon turmeric powder; 50ml red wine vinegar’ 70 gm granulated sugar; salt to taste
For the salad:Two star fruits, sliced; one teaspoon lime juice; quarter teaspoon toasted crushed cumin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan and then crushed; one tablespoon olive oil
Method: Blend all the ingredients for the spice paste together, adding enough vinegar to make a thick paste. Apply and smear the paste well on the fish fillets . Cook the fish in hot oven for 7-10 minutes or Heat a thin layer of oil in a large frying pan, add the mackerel and fry for about 2–3 minutes on each side, until just cooked through.
For chutney, heat oil in a pan. Add punch phoran – sauté until it crackles. Add the powdered spices and add vinegar and sugar followed by rest of the ingredients. Cook for 30 -40 minutes until chutney is cooked well. Cool and serve with fish.
Mix all the ingredients for the salad together and toss well. Serve with the fish.
Recipe from Atul Kochhar
MURGH MASALA PANKHARI
Pepper chicken wings
Ingredients: Two tablespoons sunflower oil; one tablespoon ginger-garlic paste; one teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper; one tablespoon ground cumin; 600g skinless chicken wings salt, to taste three tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves; 50ml coconut milk
Heat the oil in a kadhai (or heavy-based saucepan) and add the ginger-garlic paste. Stir over a high heat for about a minute. Add the pepper and cumin and then the chicken wings. Season with salt and stir to coat the chicken with the spices. Add about four tablespoons water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the lid, increase the heat and continue cooking until most of the liquid has dried up. Stir in the fresh coriander.
Chicken curry with almonds and fenugreek
Ingredients: 12 skinless chicken drumsticks 150ml natural, low-fat yoghurt Salt, to taste 60g whole almonds, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes to soften the skins 2 tablespoons sunflower oil 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek (‘kasuri methi’) 2 medium onions, finely chopped 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste 2 tablespoons tomato puree 1 teaspoon chilli powder 1 teaspoon turmeric powder 1 tablespoon garam masala Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time 35 minutes Serves 4
Method: Marinate the chicken in the yoghurt and salt while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Skin the almonds and blitz them with some water in a blender to make a coarse puree. Heat a heavy-based saucepan and add the oil. Sprinkle in the cumin seeds and fry over a medium heat for a few seconds until they start to darken.
Add the fenugreek and then the onions and stir-fry over a high heat until soft or about five minutes. Add the ginger-garlic paste. Lift the chicken out of the marinade and add it to the pan. Stir well to seal the meat on all sides for about two to three minutes.
Add the tomato puree, the rest of the yoghurt marinade and the powdered spices. Scoop in the pureed almonds and top up with 100ml water. Season with salt.
Bring to the boil, stirring all the time, and then reduce the heat and cover with a lid. Simmer for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, stirring from time to time to ensure the nut puree does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Recipe from Monisha Bharadwaj
Ingredients: 70g cashews; 350ml water; 35g dates; 8g chias seeds; 50ml water; pinch saffron; half a teaspoon cardamom; pistachios, for garnishing
Method: Soak the cashews in 350ml water for 30 minutes or longer – you can even soak them overnight. Soak the chia seeds in 50ml water for similar time. If in a rush, soak chia in hot water, mix together thoroughly and they should be ready in a few minutes. Blend the cashews, water and dates in a high-speed blender. Pour this mixture into the chia seeds and keep stirring. Now add the cardamom and saffron and mix well. You can also place small amounts of the soaked chia seeds at the bottom of each glass and pour the cashew, date, cardamom and saffron mixture over it. Garnish with chopped pistachios and a sprinkle of cardamom.
Recipe from Mira Manek
Published: 2 June 2015. By ANUCYIA VICTOR
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