Herbs and spices play a significant role in the way we cook and consume food. Both herbs and spices come from plants but herbs are obtained from the leaves whereas spices are obtained from the root, seeds, flower, or bark portion of the plant. However, herbs and spices do more than just enhance food flavor. These are packed with medicinal benefits that can keep a lot of diseases at bay and promote good health. It is the addition of herbs and spices that make home-cooked meals healthy and we already have a lot of these beneficial ingredients in our homes and pantries. Here we give you a rundown of some common ingredients and the purposes they serve.
Fresh rosemary contains vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and other B vitamins such as folate and thiamin. It’s also rich in fiber. In combination with its anti-inflammatory properties, these properties make rosemary a great herb for gut health and digestion. Rosemary may actually increase bile flow which improves digestion overall, and conditions like IBS or Crohn’s disease. Rosemary can be brewed in a tea to treat upset stomach or nausea as well. Rosemary oil is fantastic for skin, hair, and sore spots. It’s also a great remedy for dryness, dandruff, and healing.
Cinnamon contains a compound called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for the spices’ medicinal properties. Cinnamon has potent antioxidant activity, helps fight inflammation and has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Cinnamon can also lower blood sugar by several mechanisms, including by slowing the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract and improving insulin sensitivity. According to studies, it could actually help you lose weight and live longer. The spice has phenols similar to an antioxidant in red wine.
Basil has strong antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and can help with cardiovascular health. Other benefits include helping with respiratory infections, asthma, diabetes, and decreasing pain and swelling. A 2007 study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that the essential oils in basil have been shown to lower blood glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels. You can even use it to erase blemishes and help relieve stress. Have a cup of basil tea to relax after a long day at work. It can really soothe you.
There are several varieties of mint. You can use it in drinks or add some mint to your summer iced tea. Mint freshens the breath and also helps to calm your stomach. But if you grow mint, remember that it’s an invasive plant. Mint will spread and take over your garden so it’s best you grow it in containers. Many studies have shown that peppermint oil can improve pain management in irritable bowel syndrome. It appears to work by relaxing the smooth muscles in the colon, which relieves pain experienced during bowel movements. It also helps to reduce abdominal bloating, which is a common digestive symptom.
Sage is an aromatic herb that is great for seasoning meats, sauces, and vegetables. But be a little careful with this herb because sage has a tendency to overpower other flavors. Sage also helps to relieve cuts, inflammation, and helps with memory issues. It was once thought to be a medicinal cure-all. A good source of vitamin C and rich minerals like potassium, sage has many health benefits. The best part is that sage is an easy herb to grow and is relatively easy to care for. To store sage, wrap it in a damp paper towel and put it in the fridge. Frozen, it can be kept for up to six months.
Oregano is antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer, and antibiotic. It’s extremely high in antioxidants and has demonstrated antimicrobial properties against food-borne pathogens like Listeria. Its oil and leaves are used medicinally in treatment of cough, fever, congestion, body ache, and illness. Combined with basil, garlic, marjoram, thyme and rosemary, it creates a potent antiviral, anti bacterial, antimicrobial and cancer fighting seasoning blend. It can also be sprinkled on any kind of savory foods. A couple teaspoons added to a soup will help fast recovery from illness.
Most leafy greens are fantastic for you, and parsley is no exception. This super food really fits the definition because it is a concentrated source of nutrition, antioxidants, and more. And it tastes amazing. It’s extremely rich in vitamin K. Parsley also contains vitamin C, vitamin A, some folate, and iron. It’s high in antioxidants that can reduce free radical damage and slow aging. It’s even considered a chemo-protective plant due to its properties being able to fight damage to the DNA. Like most other herbs, parsley is high in minerals as well.
Turmeric is one of the primary ingredients in curry and we use it in our diet more than you might use the other herbs and spices on this list. One tablespoon of turmeric
provides manganese, iron, potassium and vitamin C. A staple of traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, this spice helps with digestion. Curcumin, an active substance in turmeric, is anti-inflammatory, which promotes heart health, and could potentially help ward off cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke,
Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases.