4 Christmas spices for the winter season

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The scent of classic Christmas spices like cinnamon and vanilla in the air puts us in a festive mood. But, according to scientific research, these aromas not only create a Christmas spirit, they’re also good for our health.

Effect of the spices

In India and Africa, many of the spices we enjoy at Christmas have been said to possess healing powers for thousands of years. Certain spices – like cinnamon, for example – are of particular benefit with digestive problems.

What the science says

What effect can these spices really have? Scientific research has found some exciting insights. Isabelle Graf, Nutritionist MSc at Bern University of Applied Sciences, presents four popular spices.

Vanilla makes us happy

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Vanilla is one of the key ingredients in many baked treats at Christmas – like vanilla Kipferl biscuits.

Softens negative feelings

Feel free to use vanilla generously in your Christmas biscuits, as the scent is relaxing and creates feelings of happiness. According to a US study, the mere scent of vanilla releases happiness hormones in the body which tempers our perception of negative feelings such as depression or stress.

  • is relaxing
  • releases happiness hormones
  • tempers our perception of negative feelings

Fir trees for relaxation

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Rub a twig of fir between your fingers and you’ll smell its fresh scent instantly.

Fir trees ease stress

A fir tree brings much more than the joy of Christmas into the house. A Japanese research group has shown that the scent of pine combined with exercise relieves stress and puts people in a good mood. So wait no longer: leave your Christmas stress behind and head for a forest of firs.

  • alleviates stress
  • creates a good mood

The all-rounder: cinnamon

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Whether for cinnamon sugar on pancakes or the finishing touch to a dish, no kitchen is complete without cinnamon.

Raises concentration levels and is versatile

Cinnamon has been said to boost digestion and stimulate appetite since the Middle Ages. Recent studies show that cinnamon also has a positive effect on blood sugar in type 2 diabetics. In addition, simply inhaling the scent of cinnamon seems to raise concentration levels and improve memory skills.

  • boosts digestion and stimulates appetite
  • has a positive effect on blood sugar levels
  • improves memory

Clever cocoa

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As beans or powder: not only children’s hearts beat faster for cocoa.

Boosts memory

Christmas without chocolate? Don’t be too strict with yourself. Recent studies show that regular cocoa consumption can also raise concentration levels and improve memory skills. 

  • improves concentration
  • has a positive impact on memory

Expert tip for Christmas

Nutritionist Isabelle Graf advises: get plenty of outdoor exercise, inhale spicy scents to your heart's content, and enjoy all your delicious Christmas treats with a good conscience.


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