Top Fall Spices for Cancer Prevention (and how to use them)
bright spices

Spices, Spices, Spices

Research is looking at the potent phytochemicals in spices and their role in cancer prevention. Most studies use far higher amounts then you would eat, but spices can transform an entire dish with the power of a pinch or a teaspoon.

Try these five spices in your cooking to add flavor to your cancer-protective meals.

turmeric in bowl


One of the most studied spices for its anticancer activity, turmeric gets its yellow color from the well-studied compound curcumin.

In lab studies, curcumin reduces inflammation and limits cancer cell growth. Studies are also looking at how curcumin – in high amounts -- may help cancer survivors.

Orange Cauliflower in bowl

How to Use Turmeric

Turmeric is mild-flavored and will turn any dish a bright yellow. Typically found in Indian curry blends, you can add it to eggs, vegetables and rice dishes.

Try turmeric in our Turkey Curry or mix it up with this Hot Ginger and Turmeric Cider.

garlic bulb


Research links eating high amounts of garlic to lower risk of colorectal cancer – that may be due to its sulfur-containing compounds. One of these compounds most studied for cancer protection is allicin.

Before cooking, chop or crush fresh garlic and allow it to sit for 10 minutes to allow allicin to form.

garlic salmon

How to Use Garlic

Though not a spice per se, garlic is a prized culinary seasoning. A little garlic punches up the flavor of beans, vegetables, meats, stews, and sauces.

You’ll love this easy homemade snack mix Garlic Pumpkin Seeds or this Garlic Salmon with Black Bean Sauce.

ginger whole and ground


Ginger root contains many active compounds, including gingerol in the fresh root.

When heated or dried, gingerols are transformed into other compounds studied for their health benefits. Many of ginger’s compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

ginger biscotti

How to Use Ginger

Ginger is a fragrant, pungent root, delicious in soup, tea, stir-fries and baked goods. You can usually find fresh ginger in the produce section; dried ginger lasts for about 3 years.

Try ginger in this Ginger Spice Biscotti or this savory starter Carrot Ginger Soup.

allspice close up


Allspice comes from the dried berries of a South American tree. Despite the name, it’s not a combination of spices.

Allspice is packed with flavonoid, phenolic acid and catechin phytochemicals. Some cell studies suggest concentrated amounts of allspice may help suppress cancer growth.

glazed sweet potato

How to Use Allspice

Allspice tastes like a blend of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg – which is how it got its name.

It pairs perfectly with winter root vegetables, breads and sweet treats. Try allspice in these Cider-Glazed Sweet Potatoes and our Apple Spice Bread.

cinnamon sticks tied


Cinnamon comes from the dried bark of trees in the cinnamomun family. You can find it as curled bark sticks or in powdered form. Lab studies have focused on its active compound cinnamaldehyde for its anticancer properties.

cinnamon cocoa

How to Use Cinnamon

Most often used in baking, this versatile spice works well in both sweet and savory dishes. Try using the cinnamon sticks to infuse flavor in stews or beverages. The powdered form adds flavor – and fragrance – to a myriad of dishes.

Try cinnamon in these savory Butternut Squash Enchiladas or pair it with chili powder for this Hot Chocolate.

spices on table

More on Spices

For more on spices and cancer prevention check out these great AICR resources:

Signup for eNews
       Please leave this field empty

More From This Issue

    Make an Impact

    Your gift provides resources for cancer patients and survivors and helps fund cancer research.

    Give Now »

    Published on November 6, 2015

    facebook twitter pinterest aicr blog