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Some holiday spices are quite good for you.

Some holiday spices are quite good for you.

Spices can do much more than make your food and beverages taste better. Some have actually been linked to positive health effects. This is worth thinking about during the holiday season, when it can be harder to stay healthy. You're already going to be consuming food with different spices, so why not choose the most beneficial ones possible?

As it happens, some of the ingredients that are most common in holiday fare may also be associated with better brain health. Here are a few examples:

  • Cinnamon: Whether you're sprinkling it on baked goods or adding it to mulled cider, cinnamon is everywhere during the holidays. Not only is it delicious, but it has also been shown to reduce inflammation and improve cognition. A study published in Nutritional Neuroscience last year found that cinnamon protected lab rats from brain damage associated with oxidative stress.
  • Cloves: These are full of antioxidants and are proven to have antimicrobial traits. In addition, a study has found that a compound in cloves is 29 percent more effective at preventing blood clots than aspirin, possibly reducing risk of stroke.
  • Nutmeg: There is some evidence that nutmeg can slow the decline associated with Alzheimer's disease. It is also a good pain reliever that can lower blood pressure.
  • Ginger: One 2012 study of middle-aged women found that taking 800 milligrams of ginger each day improved memory and concentration. Plus, ginger is an excellent remedy for nausea, and can also help to control inflammation.

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