Most of us have herbs and spices in our kitchen cabinet somewhere and they often get haphazardly added to recipes and culinary creations. Interestingly, there are many health benefits of herbs and spices, not to mention they improve the taste of so many foods!
Herbs and Spices have antibacterial and antiviral properties and many are high in B-vitamins and trace minerals. True sea salt, for instance, contains 93 trace minerals. Most herbs and spices also contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than fruits and vegetables.
Health Benefits of Herbs and spices:
Cinnamon has the highest antioxidant value of any spice. It has been shown to reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar and blood triglyceride level. Cinnamon has also been used to alleviate nausea and to increase sensitivity to insulin and aid in fat burning. It provides manganese, iron and calcium.
Basil has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and can help prevent osteoarthritis. It has been used in digestive disorders and is being studied for its anti-cancer properties. Though commonly used in Italian cooking basil is a versatile herb that can be added to practically anything. Fresh is always best, but dried is ok too as long as it is freshly dried. Basil can be sprinkled in omelets, on baked or grilled veggies, in soups, on meats or sliced fresh into salads.
Turmeric is a common ingredient in Indian foods, and a great addition to soups. It contains Curcumin, a cancer-fighting compound. It is more often taken medicinally for its ability to reduce inflammation and improve joints.
Most households have garlic around in some form or another. Fresh cloves are always best, but powdered, minced and granulated forms provide excellent flavour. Studies show that just 2 fresh cloves a week provide anti-cancer benefits.
Cayenne has many health benefits and can improve the absorption of other nutrients in foods. It has been shown to increase circulation and reduce the risk of heart problems.
Mint has traditionally been used to calm digestive troubles and alleviate nausea. Many people enjoy a tea made from peppermint or spearmint leaves, and the volatile oils in both have been used in breath fresheners, toothpastes and chewing gum. Externally, the oil or tea can be used to repel mosquito.
Oregano (and it’s milder cousin, Marjoram) are antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer and antibiotic. It is 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
Rosemary has a high concentration of the antioxidant carnosol and research shows it may have benefits in cancer treatment and healthy digestion and use of cholesterol. It has an ability to fight ageing by rejuvenating the small blood vessels under the skin. Water boiled with rosemary can be used as an antiseptic.
Thyme is a member of the mint family and contains thymol- a potent antioxidant (and also the potent ingredient in Listerine mouthwash). Water boiled with thyme can be used in homemade spray cleaners and or can be added to bathwater for treatment of wounds. Thyme water can be swished around the mouth for gum infections or for the healing of wounds from teeth removal. Teas made with thyme have been used to treat athletes foot and vaginal yeast infections. Thyme tea can also be taken internally during illness to speed recovery.
Apart from all the health benefits it can be incredibly fun to experiment with different herbs and spices – so go wild next time you find yourself in the Coles spice isle. You might just surprise yourself.