5 Spices for a Strong Immune System

Keep cold, cough and infections at bay with these spices

Annabelle D’Costa

Weather changes bring along the flu season which means everyone around is either coughing, sneezing or has fever. The best way to avoid succumbing to this viral mayhem is ensuring that your immunity system is in shipshape. So if you don’t want to be stocking up on over-the-counter medicines and making trips to the doctor, it’s time to add immunity-boosting foods to your daily meals.

Indian recipes are known for their generous use of certain spices but it’s not just because they add flavour to your meals. With the host of health benefits that spices offer, the spice rack in your kitchen can easily double up as a medicine cabinet. These spices work as immunity boosters too so don’t forget to add them to your meals during the flu season. Here’s a look at the health benefits of spices used in Indian recipes.


Acting as a natural immunity stimulator, a dose of cinnamon can help fight viruses that cause cold and cough. In a research published by the US National Library of Medicine, researchers from Malaysian universities called cinnamon “a multifaceted medicinal plant”. The research credits cinnamon with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties. This spice also reduces the risk of colon cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

To introduce the health benefits of cinnamon into your diet, spike up your morning bowl of oats or smoothies with a pinch of cinnamon powder. Add a dash of cinnamon powder to your marinades, soups and stews. Besides, you could also infuse your teas and enhance the flavour of your curries with whole cinnamon quills. Click here to find more ways to cook with cinnamon.


Known for its pungent and distinctive taste, this spice is also known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-septic properties. Eugenol, an important compound, can help fight the effect of free radicals and other disease-causing bacteria in the body. When you’re suffering from a cold or cough, keep a few clove pods handy to chew on. Studies suggest that cloves can help provide instant relief as this spice soothes sore throats and reduces coughing fits.

Apart from being a great addition to your marinades, cloves can be added whole into several rice dishes such as pulao. You can also grind cloves to a fine powder and use it to spike up desserts. Click here for more ways to cook with cloves. Start your day right with this healthy porridge recipe starring cloves.

5 Spices for a Strong Immune System

Click here for ingredient details and step-by-step recipe. 


Apart from being one of the main ingredients which helps colour your curries and sabzis, this ‘wonder drug’ is hailed for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It is no wonder that the turmeric root is a superfood. Due to its antiseptic properties, turmeric is known to naturally treat and prevent viral infections such as cough and cold. A research published by the US National Library of Medicine suggests that turmeric’s most powerful compound, curcumin, helps stimulate the immune system. “Known to heal, turmeric is a great spice for immunity,” says Amreen Shaikh, Dietician at Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central. It’s great for your skin too!

Don’t forget to add a dash of turmeric powder into your soups, smoothies, rice and salad recipes. Click here for recipes that use turmeric. Before going to bed, sip on a glass of warm milk with half-a-teaspoon of turmeric powder to prevent the risk of catching the viral. It’s called Golden Milk for a reason. Cooking with turmeric is bound to leave stains, check out these hacks to deal with turmeric stains.

Black pepper

A common addition to most Indian dishes, black pepper could actually be the answer to all your health-related problems. From helping reduce inflammation to discouraging intestinal gas and ridding the body of toxins, this everyday spice can do it all. Moreover, pepper oil acts as an excellent natural remedy for your sinuses and nasal congestion, providing instant relief.

Studies suggest that including more black pepper - whole, crushed or powdered - in your daily meals can improve your overall health and strengthen your body’s defense forces. Click here for recipes to cook with black pepper. Get started with this Magic Healing Soup recipe by Chef Gautam Mehrishi.

5 Spices for a Strong Immune System

Click here for the ingredient details and step-by-step soup recipe. 


Part of the reason why a kadak adrak wali chai makes you feel so good is that ginger comes loaded with several immune-boosting properties. Known as the ‘king of all spices’, ginger is rich in anti-oxidants, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Not only that, ginger is also a great source of nutrients such as potassium, manganese (known to build resistance towards diseases), and vitamins A, B, C and E. Continue reading more health benefits of ginger.

Boost your immunity while you satisfy your sweet tooth cravings with this ginger avocado pudding recipe.

5 Spices for a Strong Immune System

Click here for the ingredient details and step-by-step recipe. 


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