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Herbs and spices not only punch up food's appeal, they also can boost your immune system to help your body fight disease.

1. Tumeric. India, a country which tends to use tumeric more frequently, has one of the lowest risk of colorectal cancer in the world, and a 4.4 times lower rate of Alzheimer's than American adults aged 70-79. Turmeric adds a warm, earthy aroma and flavor to poultry, seafood and vegetables dishes.

2. Cinnamon. Studies have shown cinnamon provides antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. And more recent research suggests it may have blood glucose-lowering effects for people with diabetes. Cinnamon is commonly used in baked goods, breakfast cereals, and beverages, but is also a delicious addition to baked beans and Middle Eastern recipes.

3. Basil. Basil leaves contain several health-promoting essential oils, including eugenol, which has shown anti-inflammatory properties similar to medicines such as ibuprofen. Several studies also reveal basil's anti-bacterial properties, which limit the growth of strains of bacteria that threaten food safety. Fresh or dried basil is a flavorful addition to tomato and pasta dishes, stir-fries, soups and salads.

4. Pepper. Hot peppers are a concentrated source of capsaicin, which studies suggest has cancer-protective, anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects. Add pepper to stir-fries, stews and egg dishes for an added kick of flavor and health rewards.

5. Mint. Several randomized controlled trials have found peppermint may treat digestive disorders by relaxing the smooth muscles surrounding the intestines. Peppermint contains rosmarinic acid, which exhibits several actions that are beneficial in the treatment of asthma, such as lowering inflammation. With its cooling flavor, mint is a refreshing addition to salads, smoothies, and hot beverages.

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