The health benefits of spices and herbs have long been known to many cultures worldwide. And these 9 super healthy spices being presented here on this post are by no means all of them. There are an abundance of spices on our planet that are good for you. But these nine are among the very best, for reasons to follow.
According to studies carried out by McCormick Science Institute, an independent research organization, there are many health-promoting advantages realized in the body by consuming more herbs and spices.
The following list is indicative of the benefits of (not just, but especially) the:
9 Super Healthy Spices for your body.
Antioxidants are substances, contained in vegetables and fruits, that have shown to protect cells against the effects of free radicals.
Vegetables and Fruits, you say? I thought we were talking about spices, right?
Yes, we are. Most people don’t realize it, but spices are in the same botanical group as vegetables and fruits, as they are substances derived from the fruit, dried seed, root, bark, or leaves of some fruit or vegetable plant.
But back to free radicals.
These are molecules produced by your body when it breaks down food, or by environmental exposures such as radiation of tobacco smoke. Antioxidants can prove to be instrumental in protecting you against many diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants include vitamins A, C, as well as elutein, lycopene, beta-carotene, and selenium.
Spices and herbs, it is being scientifically verified, may play a significant role in reducing inflammation. Chronic diseases, such as allergies, Alzheimers, and heart disease, to name a few, have been proven to have inflammation identified as a precursor. Including spices and herbs in your diet not only will add flavor, but also aid in a campaign against inflammatory symptoms afflicting the body.
There is mounting evidence that spices, especially chili peppers, will raise your metabolic rate by as much as 50% for as long as 3 hours after having eaten a spicy meal. Capsaicin, the active ingredient found in peppers that produce the “hot” taste, are being identified as have properties that boost the metabolism. As a plus, if you use spices in the food you prepare, and the result is more satisfying and flavorful, chances are you will wind up eating less, hence, consuming fewer calories.
Here are the 9 Super Healthy Spices
(not in any particular order of importance)
When you crush or cut into a clove of garlic, the distinctive (and strong) odor that you smell is coming from byproducts of allicin. Allicin is the sulfur compound considered to be what provides most of the herb’s medicinal benefits. It is also what gives garlic its characteristic “bite”.
Garlic is such a beneficial tonic, many nutritionists recommend taking some daily. A diet that includes daily ingestion of garlic can reduce cholesterol levels by up to 10%, and also help lower the risk of heart disease risk by as much as 76 %. This is because allicin works to thin the blood, and therefore staves off dangerous clots; and, it acts as an antioxidant.
The sulfur compounds in garlic also appear to ward off some forms of cancer, most notably stomach and colorectal cancer. These compounds aid in flushing out carcinogens forming, before they can damage the cell’s DNA. Additionally, due to its strong antifungal and antibacterial properties, garlic can aid with the prevention and cure of the common cold, and sinus and yeast infections.
Use garlic in fried skillet dishes, soups, stews, baked dishes, it is extremely versatile. It is strong in flavor, so you will need to adjust amounts to your tastes. But eating some garlic every day is just plain good for you!
Now here is one of the 9 Super Healthy Spices that is super tasty, too! Cinnamon compliments so many dishes and drinks it would be impossible to list them all. Combined with sugar or honey to make a delicious sweet tea, coffee, smoothie, yogurt, etc., or used in cakes, pies, tarts, breads … the list goes on and on.
Cinnamon is rich in natural compounds known as polyphenols. Research now suggests that these polyphenol compounds may act like insulin in our body, which provides aid in regulating blood sugar levels. So people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes will certainly benefit from taking cinnamon in their diet.
Other benefits of cinnamon that studies are verifying include: helping to treat muscle spasms, relief from vomiting, diarrhea, the common cold, loss of appetite, infections, and get this guys – erectile dysfunction (ED)!
Did you know that one teaspoon of dried oregano has as much antioxidant power as three cups of chopped broccoli?
Yes, it does, and that is only the beginning of its many health benefits.
Oregano is a rich source of Vitamin K and dietary antioxidants. Oregano also contains beneficial amounts of fiber, iron, manganese, vitamin E, iron, calcium, omega fatty acids, and typtophan.
Many cultures worldwide have used oregano as a healing poultice as well. Applied topically, in can assist in eliminating dandruff and acne.
And oregano’s culinary uses are unlimited. It adds zest and flavor to sauces, soups, stews, souffles, skillet dishes, baked goods, and is a great ingredient in meat spice rubs – just to name a very few of the immensely long list of uses oregano has in the kitchen.
4. Cilantro (Coriander)
Cilantro is a marvelous, green leafy and aromatic plant.
Ongoing studies are suggested that consuming cilantro decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It also is being found to promote healthy hair and skin, induce increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Folklore in some cultures dating back to antiquity have believed that cilantro will increase one’s longevity, and modern science is now leaning toward endorsing that belief with what studies are suggesting so far.
Use cilantro in your salads, sauces, stews, soups, skillet dishes, baked goods, almost anything, really. It is one of those special ingredients that give Mexican cuisine its distinctive flavor. And it makes for a wonderful garnish on many dishes, too.
Coriander is the mature seeds produced by the cilantro plant. It has been used in many cultures worldwide for millennia as a digestive aid. The herb can also be of assistance to people with irritable bowel syndrome. This is because it calms intestinal spasms that can often lead to diarrhea. Some new studies in animals support yet another “traditional” use for coriander—as an anti-anxiety agent.
Coriander’s essential oil appears to fight off harmful bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli. As with many other herbs used as a spice, this one performs as an effective antioxidant.
The culinary uses of coriander are plentiful. You can make a strong medicinal tea from the crushed seeds; boil them in fresh water, strain the water to discard the boiled seed pulp, and add a little organic honey (optional) if you want it a little sweet. Coriander goes well with meat rub spice mixtures, and is excellent in sauces, stews, and soups.
Rosemary is a member of the mint family. Since ancient times, rosemary had been valued for its medicinal properties. Traditional home remedies use rosemary to help improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, relieve muscle pain, and promote healthy hair growth.
Rosemary is also an excellent source of Vitamin B6, iron and calcium. Normally it is prepared for use as a recipe ingredient in the form of a dried herb. It also comes as a powdered extract, and teas and liquid extracts are made from fresh or dried leaves as well.
But sprigs of fresh rosemary are also great for garnishes, and the fresh rosemary leaves can just as well be used in recipe preparations – you just need to use more quantity, as the dried leaves are more heavily concentrated with its distinctive flavor.
The culinary uses of rosemary are also many. Include it in meat marinades, breads, muffins, sauces (especially tomato-based sauces), soups and stews, to mention a few. Rosemary seasoned lamb and chicken dishes are simply marvelous. Some creative and adventurous cooks will even use rosemary in cakes, pies, sweet breads and cheesecakes.
Thyme is one of my personal absolute favorite herbs. As a spice it goes great with meat, poultry, and seafood entrees. It is wonderful to include in pestos, sauces, rubs, stews, soups, skillet dishes, added to salad dressings, creamy dips, sprinkled on veggies or meats as a garnish – there are way too many kinds of dishes that benefit from thyme to possibly list.
In addition to its highly touted antioxidant advantages, research is now examining thyme as playing a role in good, healthy respiratory function. Medicinally, thyme oil will help stop a cough; its high concentrations of Vitamins A and C will boost your immune system and treat the common cold. Taking thyme in your daily diet can reduce high blood pressure – especially if you substitute it for a reduced amount of salt (sodium) in your meals.
The powder produces from dried and finely ground turmeric roots is what gives yellow curry its familiar color.
Turmeric has been used in Indian cuisine for thousands of years as a favored spice, as well as for medicinal purposes.
And in modern times, especially recently, scientific studies have started to verify what the Indians have understood since ancient antiquity. Turmeric actually does contain compounds that have remarkable medicinal properties. These compounds are called curcuminoids, and the most important of these curcuminoids is curcumin.
Circumin is being proven to be a natural anti-inflammatory agent. It increases the body’s antioxidant capacity. And, curcumin enhances the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is linked to improved brain function and lowers the risk of having diseases of the brain. For more information on BDNF, read this article.
Use turmeric in your kitchen in curry form, included in traditional Indian, Mediterranean, and African dishes, as well as many contemporary American and European recipes. Stir curry into tuna, chicken and egg salads, use it in dips and vinaigrettes. And fresh ground turmeric root is a tasty and healthy ingredient in lots of sauces, stews, and soups.
Closely related to, and a member of the same family, as turmeric, ginger is a flowering plant that originated in China. It is the root, or underground part of the plant’s stem (called a rhizome) that is used in cuisines and for medicinal purposes.
Just one teaspoon of ginger has about the same levels of antioxidants as a whole cup of spinach.
Gingerol, the oil produced from ginger, is its main bioactive compound, and is considered to be responsible for most of its medicinal properties. Gingerol has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Chewing on some fresh ginger root (or taking it in encapsulated, powdered form) has been shown to reduce muscle pains, and alleviate osteoarthritis pain. It also treats many forms of nausea, including pregnancy-related nausea (especially effective for “morning-sickness”, ladies!), sea-sickness, and nausea caused by chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients. Ginger also helps with alleviating indigestion.
Use ginger in your diet by grating some fresh into sauces, adding zest into pestos, sprinkled onto fresh fruits and fruit salads, or even mixed into yogurts and ice creams. It adds a wonderful flavor to smoothies, too.
For the more savory culinary uses, add ginger into sauces, use it in Indian curry dishes, try making an egg omelet with ginger partnered with garlic (delicious!), add it into soups and stews … you really have unlimited possibilities. And of course ginger is a tasty ingredient in many desserts: pies, cakes, cheesecakes, and flans, among others.
9. Dried Red Hot Pepper Flakes
Spices derived from hot red chili peppers include paprika, cayenne, and crushed red pepper flakes. They not only add that fiery flavor that so many people enjoy, they are proving to be beneficial to people trying to maintain or lose weight as well. Red peppers are useful for increasing satiety, stimulating fat burning, and enhancing the metabolism in general.
Red peppers add lots of flavor and spice, but at the same time they contain very few calories. There are only 6 total calories in one teaspoon of red pepper, and a mere 1 gram of carbohydrates, with zero fat or sugar. In that same one teaspoon, red pepper provides 15 percent of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin A for a typical 2,000-calorie-per-day diet. Vitamin A is beneficial for improving hair, nails, skin, and eyesight.
Red pepper also contains vitamins B-6, E and C, as well as the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, iron and potassium.
As with all of the other 9 Super Healthy Spices, red peppers have a plethora of culinary uses. Spice up your guacamole, hummus, mashed potatoes, even cottage cheese. Sprinkle some dried flakes on your pizza for some added zing. Use paprika and cayenne in meat, poultry and seafood spice rubs, sauces, stews, and glazes. Marinades and dressings can be given a kicked-up punch with any of the forms hot red peppers come in. too.
And there you have it, some of the many benefits of the 9 Super Healthy Spices. Use them in your diet, and use them for health reasons. They are good on the palate, and good for what ails you!
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