If you want to give your meal a nutritional “upgrade,” then you may want to start including some healing herbs and spices to help enrich your body with extra antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Today, there is growing evidence that these natural ingredients support many body functions. Below are some reasons aromatic spices and herbs may prove helpful to you:
– Some herbs and spices are thermogenic or heat-inducing, and may help stimulate your metabolism.
– Certain herbs and spices help satiate you faster, helping you control the amount of food you eat.
– They may help improve blood sugar levels, cholesterol and triglycerides, and contribute to weight management.
– When added to marinades, they help reduce chemicals that form due to cooking.
– You don’t need to use large amounts to experience their benefits. For instance, on a per gram basis, many spices and herbs have higher antioxidant activity than fruits and vegetables.
Healing Herbs and Spices
Here are 9 powerful herbs and spices you can add to your diet, each with a unique taste and set of health benefits:
If you’re fond of curry-based foods, you’ll love turmeric. This yellow-orange spice was widely used in ancient times by the Chinese and Indians. It was used as a substitute for saffron, as it is cheaper and easier to cultivate.
Studies have found that this spice contains a beneficial compound called curcumin, which gives it its vibrant colour. Turmeric also contains vitamins B6 and C, magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium, and fibre.
If you want an ingredient that will warm you up as well as add an intense flavour to your meals, then ginger is an excellent choice. It can be added to soups, sauces, marinades, and other dishes. Ginger can also provide you with nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese.
Research suggests that ginger can aid your weight management efforts. It has thermogenic properties that can assist your metabolism and help suppress your appetite. Ginger may also promote immune function and cardiovascular health.
Are you having trouble with your blood sugar or insulin? Cinnamon may be able to help you. Studies show that it can help improve insulin sensitivity and strengthen your antioxidant defences.
One teaspoon of this fragrant spice can also offer 22 percent of the daily recommended value of manganese, a nutrient involved in many body functions. Cinnamon also has high amounts of calcium and fibre.
For common infections, such as colds and the flu, you can rely on garlic to support your immune system. Thanks to its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties, garlic has shown promise against a number of chronic diseases, as well as strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It may also help fight yeast infections and parasites.
Garlic owes its success to its active ingredient allicin, which is responsible for its strong smell. However, allicin is short-lived and lasts less than an hour, so to maximize its benefits, consume fresh raw garlic instead of cooking it. You can also obtain vitamins B6 and C, and calcium, phosphorus, and selenium from garlic.
Since ancient times, cloves have been a staple in Indian and Chinese cultures because of their antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. The spice is primarily known for its effectiveness in addressing dental problems, such as tooth and gum pain.
Cloves can be used to help treat respiratory illnesses, joint and muscle pain, and digestive problems, and to even relieve stress. They are also a good source of vitamins A and C, and minerals, such as calcium, sodium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium.
If you’re new to herbs, oregano is a great choice to add to your dishes and your medicine cabinet. It is packed with nutrients, such as vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K, as well as fibre, folate, iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
Oregano has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. In fact, studies have found that it can help halt MRSA, parasites, and yeast infections. This herb also has antiviral properties that make it efficient in curbing respiratory illnesses.
Basil boasts a rich nutritional profile, including vitamins A, C, and K, and minerals like iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. Its flavonoids and volatile oils also provide antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, which help curb strains of harmful bacteria, such as Staphylococcus strains and E. coli. Basil also can help support your cardiovascular health.
Peppermint isn’t only an ingredient added to winter candies and treats. This minty medicinal herb is also a popular remedy against digestive problems and respiratory ailments. Thanks to its cooling effects, peppermint can also be used as a painkiller for muscle pain, shingles, and headaches.
Peppermint contains not just menthol, but also vitamin C, copper, and manganese.
This fragrant spice contains a wide range of nutrients, including minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium, and zinc, antioxidants like vitamins A and C, B-vitamins and beta-carotene, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. Nutmeg also has bacteria-killing properties that are effective against three Streptococcus species.
Important Herb & Spice Reminders
A word of caution: although these herbs and spices pack a wallop against various health concerns, they shouldn’t be taken on a daily basis. The reason is that you might develop an allergy to them. They must not be used to compensate for a poor diet. Instead, use them to complement a balanced diet.
When selecting herbs and spices, make sure they’re organic. Manufacturers all over the United States irradiate millions of pounds of dry ingredients every year. This process kills both pathogenic bacteria and nutrients, and makes spices and herbs susceptible to contamination.
Contributing Author: Adrienne Razon is a writer for Mercola.com. She is currently researching herbs and spices, specifically curcumin’s benefits and uses. She also creates different articles and write-ups based on Dr. Joseph Mercola’s natural health and fitness recommendations.