Benefits of spice
Great in mulled wine and Christmas cake but in 2000 scientists at the US Agricultural Research Service found it revitalised the ability of cells to deal with excess blood sugar.
Ham was traditionally studded with the dried flower buds at Christmas as cooking with spices helped kill bacteria. In the Renaissance, cloves were thought to ward off epidemics and people wore clove pomanders. They contain the active component eugenol, which has made them the subject of many health studies most notably into digestive tract cancers and joint inflammation.
Enjoyed in Christmas gingerbread, this root was used by the ancient Greeks as an after dinner digestive and by the Egyptians to ease travel sickness on voyages. In modern medicine it has been used to alleviate motion and morning sickness, and nausea brought on by chemotherapy. In 2006, the University of Michigan announced that ginger could help with the treatment of ovarian cancer.