You should always have these condiments on hand for flavour and health

Spices are transformative. They are the key to flavourful recipes and are often the differentiating factor that gives a dish a sense of place and origin. The same protein, grain, and vegetable simply prepared with different spices will result in completely different food experiences. In addition to being flavour bombs, spices have incredible health benefits that have been touted since the time of ancient civilisations. And thanks to modern science, many of these spices now also have the evidence-based research to back this up.

Spices deliver the complete package, boosting both flavour and nutrition (without any downside). A well-stocked pantry of spices will be slightly different for everyone depending on personal flavour preferences and cultural backgrounds, but we’ve narrowed down our top five spices to keep on hand that are versatile across cuisines and also have the most significant benefits in terms of health, so you can create winning recipes any day of the week.


Cinnamon is one of the most familiar and commonly utilised spices and can be used in both sweet and savoury cooking.

Health benefits

There are numerous studies demonstrating cinnamon’s blood glucose-lowering effects, including this 2020 study that showed just 500 milligrams of cinnamon (about ¼ teaspoon) three times per day can lower fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels in people with prediabetes. Cinnamon’s bioactive compounds collectively have antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, and antifungal activities. There is even some preliminary evidence that cinnamon may help lower total cholesterol and triglycerides.


A member of the ginger family, turmeric is an essential ingredient in Pakistani cuisine, but can be utilised in any home kitchen.

Health benefits

Turmeric’s health benefits are numerous and its active compound curcumin is one of the most widely studied phytochemicals due to its powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. Some studies show curcumin may inhibit the growth of tumor cells as well as reduce inflammatory markers in the body. Turmeric is also being researched for its gut and brain health benefits and may also help lower total cholesterol and triglycerides. Additionally, there is some evidence that curcumin may play a role in managing symptoms of depression as well as be integrated into therapeutic treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.


Ginger can be consumed as a fresh root or dried and ground, used as a spice.

Health benefits

Ginger contains an active compound called gingerol, which contains phytonutrients that acts as an antioxidant along with antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. Both scientific and anecdotal evidence shows that ginger can help alleviate nausea and vomiting, specifically related to those symptoms during pregnancy and chemotherapy.

Ginger consumption may also help alleviate pain associated with rheumatism. Specific amounts in studies vary, but conclude that generally less than one teaspoon of ground ginger per day will provide effective relief.


Fennel seeds, the seeds of the fennel plant, have a licorice or anise aroma and flavour, and can be consumed whole on their own or used in cooking.

Health benefits

The active compound anethole is what gives fennel its pronounced anise aroma and flavour as well as its health benefits. Anethole has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties as well as aids in digestion. Just one tablespoon of fennel seeds delivers two grams of fibre and is an excellent source of manganese (an important mineral for a variety of bodily functions, including metabolism, calcium absorption, blood sugar regulation, brain and nerve function). Fennel seeds also contain calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.


Paprika is found in three varieties: sweet, hot, and smoked (linked to the variety of red pepper used before drying and grinding) and all can be just the right addition to take your dish to the next level.

Health benefits

Paprika contains the active compound capsaicin, recognised for a number of health benefits due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Keep in mind, the hotter the paprika, the more capsaicin it will contain. Paprika also contains a surprisingly concentrated amount of vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin B6, as well as a variety of phytochemicals. Just one tablespoon of paprika provides nearly 20 per cent of your daily requirement for vitamin A.