By Hadas Kuznits

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hospital patients at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America facility in Northeast Philadelphia got a lesson yesterday on the health benefits of cooking with Indian spices.

Rakesh Sabharwal of the Henry Ford Health System, in Michigan (above), was the visiting chef.

The point of his presentation, he says, was “basically, it’s cooking Indian healthy food with spices, and the benefit of spices in our food.”

Registered dietician Amanda Agamy says the benefits of cooking with spices have been backed by studies.

“Turmeric is actually the spice that has been studied the most,” she tells KYW Newsradio.  “There have been over 1,700 lab studies on turmeric alone.  The active phytochemical in turmeric is curcumin, and we see benefits with anti-cancer.  It helps with slowing the growth of tumor cells.   It can help with encouraging death in tumor cells,” she explains.

(Dietician Amanda Agamy.  Photo by Hadas Kuznits)

(Dietician Amanda Agamy. Photo by Hadas Kuznits)


Chef Sabharwal said there’s a whole palate of spices he’d like to encourage people to incorporate into their cooking.

“Turmeric has a healing property, cumin has a healing property, cardamom has a healing property, garlic is very important in our food — which is practically in every dish we use: ginger and garlic!”

Agamy, the dietician, agrees.

“When we’re talking about garlic, we know that it helps decrease a person’s risk — specifically women’s risk — of stomach and colon cancer.  There was a study that looked at women and the amount they ate, and those who ate more garlic had a 50-percent  decreased risk in developing colon or stomach cancer.”

Chef Sabharwal says not to think of extreme spiciness.

“I’m not talking about chili hot food, or spicy food,” he says.   “I’m talking about flavorful food.  I’m not talking about chilis, I’m not talking about heat.”

Top Content On CBSPhilly

Watch & Listen LIVE