Spices have been used for thousands of years to do everything from cure the common cold to ward off serious life-threatening illnesses. And while each spice can improve your general health, there are a few that can do wonders for your brain health, particularly when you need to get down to business and stay focused.
Here’s a roundup of five of the best spices for your cranium—and don’t be surprised that a few of your favorite gr8nola flavors use some of these!
While we don’t recommend trying out the ill-advised Cinnamon Challenge anytime soon (trust us, it’s for the best!), a little cinnamon in your diet can go a long way to making you feel alert when you need to focus. In particular, cinnamon contains sodium benzoate, which heals neurons and also prevents against neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
How to Enjoy: Sprinkle cinnamon into your yogurt and top it off with gr8nola (like our Cinnamon Chai gr8nola), or add it to fruits and vegetables like apples and sweet potatoes.
While it might be expensive to buy (it takes two football fields of crocus flowers to make a single kilogram!), saffron has a number of body-wide benefits, but when it comes to staying focused, it’s great for improving brain function and improving depressive symptoms.
How to Enjoy: A little bit of saffron goes a long way, so only use the tiniest pinch of it on your food, especially when it comes to rice dishes.
There's a reason why we chose turmeric as one of our superfood gr8nola flavors, and that’s because in addition to being an easy addition to soups, curries and golden lattes, this special spice can keep you focused and rejuvenated on a cellular level.
Just how important is turmeric in getting your mind in the zone? One study found that aromatic-turmerone, one of the key components of turmeric, encourages the actual growth of nerve cells, including brain cells.
How to Enjoy: In addition to trying our Golden Spice gr8nola (wink, wink), you can add turmeric to anything, including on your eggs or in your soups as well as in teas and on rice.
4. Black Pepper
Unlike saffron, which seemingly costs an arm and a leg to buy, black pepper is one of the most common spices in the world—and it’s also one of the most beneficial if you need a boost to stay productive. In particular, black pepper contains piperine, which can reduce depression and aid in brain function and movement.
How to Enjoy: There really aren’t a lot of dishes that don’t taste good with a little extra pepper
How to Enjoy: No matter what you’re trying to use that focus for, a little ginger in your salad dressings or seasoned on your favorite roasted veggies never hurts. You can also look for ginger in your teas and tonics.