Spices not only add flavor and complexity to festive holiday dishes, but can also help reduce inflammation and provide a boost in managing blood sugar and metabolic levels. Here are four highly beneficial spices to incorporate into your holiday meals throughout the holiday season and beyond.

In one study completed by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, scientists were amazed to find that volunteers who had eaten apple pie did not experience the expected large rise in their blood sugar levels. This was attributed to the cinnamon in the pie, which boosts the stabilizing effects of insulin on blood sugar. At the same time, these antioxidants inhibit insulin resistance. They achieve this by activating enzymes that stimulate insulin receptors, making the cells more sensitive to insulin, increasing insulin's ability to lower blood sugar. Other benefits of this festive spice include boosting cognitive processing in the brain, improving memory, and supporting attention span.

Chili Peppers
The most abundant phytonutrient found in the spicy constituents of peppers is capsaicin. Capsaicin exerts strong anti-inflammatory effects and has been shown to aid in weight control. When consumed, capsaicin suppresses the appetite, raises metabolic rate temporarily, and inhibits spikes in blood sugar for about 30 minutes after it is ingested, thereby reducing the risk of an insulin response.

The hallmark of fragrant, spicy and golden curries, turmeric has been involved in many studies that indicate that this delicious spice possesses significant potential in preventing and treating cancer. The active constituents in turmeric have tremendous activity in the body, protecting several organ systems including the brain and heart. Extremely high in anti-inflammatory antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, this spice (like cinnamon) also has powerful blood sugar-stabilizing effects and can halt the changes caused by excessive alcohol consumption that lead to liver damage.

Black Pepper
Adding black pepper to your food is one of the easiest and most economical ways enhance your health. Black pepper contains a substance called piperine, which has demonstrated the ability to increase the bioavilabilty of nutrients in food and supplements. This spice also has the ability to intensify the benefits of other inflammation fighting spices such as turmeric by increasing its bioavilability.

So be sure to spice up your holiday dishes with one or more of these healthy options your taste buds (and body) will thank you!