You don’t have to settle for dull meals when you’re eating healthy and losing weight. Spices and herbs pump up the flavor of all kinds of food and turn ordinary ingredients into taste sensations. Spices and herbs are virtually calorie-free, so they’re unlimited Free Foods on your Nutrisystem plan. Even better, some of the most popular seasonings, including cinnamon and pepper, may actually help speed your progress to your weight loss goal. Here are six spices and herbs that have been shown to help with weight loss (plus fresh ideas for using them!).
Why: The sweet-tasting spice has been shown to decrease body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and fat mass, according to a review of 12 studies, published in Clinical Nutrition. “Cinnamon supplementation significantly affects obesity measures,” concludes the researchers. Cinnamon has also been found in some studies to help lower blood sugar levels. While more research is needed on the benefits of this spice, it can be a delicious part of a healthy diet when enjoyed in moderation.
Try: Cinnamon adds a spark to oatmeal, plain yogurt, cottage cheese, and coffee or tea. In combination with other spices, cinnamon also enhances the flavors of pork dishes. With Nutrisystem’s Vanilla Protein Shake Mix, you can make our Cinnamon Protein Mug Cake, a treat that’s as nourishing as it is delicious.
2. Cayenne Pepper
Why: Hot peppers of all kinds pack a spicy kick that will light up your taste buds. Eating them could also light a fire under your weight loss progress. Capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their heat, has several healthy benefits, according to a study in Bioscience Reports. The researchers found that capsaicin speeds up your metabolism, causes your body to burn more fat, and leaves you feeling like your appetite has been satisfied.
Try: Fresh chili peppers range from mildly spicy jalapenos to fiery habaneros. Cayenne peppers fall in between those two extremes. Add hot peppers to omelets, wraps and your favorite Nutrisystem meals such as our Beef, Bean and Cheese Burrito and Southwest Fiesta Melt. Sprinkle powdered cayenne pepper into soups, stews, sautéed vegetables, hummus and other dips. Cayenne pepper puts the heat in our Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds.
Why: The grated root of the ginger plant has a sweet and spicy taste that brings out the flavor of many ingredients. A review of 14 studies, published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, looked at the weight loss and metabolic effects of ginger intake on overweight and obese subjects. The researchers found that ginger intake significantly decreased body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, hip ratio, fasting glucose and insulin resistance index. However, it did not affect insulin, BMI, triglycerides, total- and LDL-cholesterol levels.
Try: Ginger tea is a warm, soothing drink. To make it, simply boil thin slices of fresh ginger root for 10 to 20 minutes (depending on how strong you like it). You can also grate fresh ginger into stir-fries, fish dishes or fruit salad. Ginger complements the sweet tastes of Orange Ginger Roasted Carrots, a vegetable dish the whole family will love. Then for dessert, treat yourself to our 4-Ingredient Ginger Cacao Bites.
Why: The warm, earthy flavor and aroma of cumin makes it an essential spice for Indian, Middle Eastern and Central American cuisines. A three month study found that overweight women who consumed yogurt with cumin at two meals, combined with nutrition counseling for weight loss, lost more weight and body fat than a control group who did not have the cumin.
Try: Stir cumin into stews, soups and stir-fries, and include it in rubs and marinades for chicken or fish. We love the way cumin adds flavor to our Baked Salsa Verde Chicken Dip recipe.
Why: Garlic not only puts the pizzazz in pizza and the zing in tomato sauce, but it may also help reduce your waist circumference. That’s what researchers found when they reviewed studies on garlic and weight loss and shared their conclusions in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research.
Try: Garlic powder is an easy way to work more delicious taste into our Classic Tuna Salad or Mushroom Bolognese. Easy Air Fryer Garlic Bread is quick and simple to prepare but doesn’t skimp on flavor.
Why: The bright yellow spice that’s used in mustard has a warm, slightly bitter flavor. It comes from a plant that’s related to ginger and it has similar weight loss benefits. In a study of overweight people, those who took turmeric extract twice daily for one month enjoyed faster weight loss and decreasing belly fat.
Try: Mustard is a Free food you can enjoy without limit. Use it on sandwiches and wraps instead of high-fat, high-calorie mayonnaise. Spread it on the Classic Hamburger or Grilled Chicken Sandwich from Nutrisystem. Our healthy recipe for Slow Cooker Moroccan Lentil Soup features turmeric along with garlic, cumin and cinnamon.
*Always speak to your doctor before making any dietary changes or before trying a new supplement.