The health benefits of herbs and spices are many – and they are as easy to find as opening the kitchen cupboard. Most people think of herbs and spices as an extra topping to food, or even an unnecessary garnish. However many experts think we should treat herbs and spices as foods in their own right due to their amazing health benefits – and even that we should be sprinkling them into every meal with abandon! So, which herbs and spices are most beneficial to your health and what amazing improvements can we expect?
There are many different herbs and spices with exciting flavours to jazz up any meal. It is easy to start adding herbs and spices to your food. You can add fresh herbs to yoghurt and fruit then use a blender to create amazing soups and smoothies. Another trick is to add tasty spices to a meal in the slow cooker to allow time for the fragrance and flavour to really get into the meat.
Health benefits of herbs and spices include reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease and cognitive degeneration, increasing the metabolism, improving mood, clearing congestion, reducing nausea and symptoms of IBS, fighting diabetes and improving the memory. Not bad for something so small!
Read on to find out which herbs and spices give the best health benefits.
The health benefits of garlic are profound. Garlic has been known for centuries as a powerful medicine used to treat all kinds of ailments. The allicin compound in garlic helps boost the immune system, reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and protect the heart.
Scientific research has shown that garlic has the power to actually shrink cancer cells. This herb is probably the most powerful and beneficial of any herb or spice out there, so use it liberally in all your cooking. You can also buy garlic capsules or even eat it raw if you dare!
Garlic can be added to most savoury dishes – just remember the mints for afterwards!
Oregano is a delicious herb and a powerful antioxidant, protecting our cells from free radicals that can cause cancer and heart disease. The health benefits of oregano come from its ability to reduce the toxicity within the body’s cells.
Use this herb fresh or dried to flavour all kinds of recipes from stews and casseroles to tomatoes dishes, pastas, pizzas, salads and sandwiches.
Rosemary is a flavoursome herb that complements meat, especially lamb dishes. It can also be used to great effect in desserts, breads and cakes.
Rosemary is an anti-inflammatory, which means it reduces inflammation within the body, thought to be a main contributor to cancer, heart disease and other health conditions. Rosemary also helps to prevent allergies and clear congestion.
The health benefits of rosemary include clearing the airways, so this is a good herb to try if you enjoy running outdoors.
Ginger is a great antioxidant. There is as much cancer-fighting power in one teaspoon of ginger as in a whole cup of spinach! This tasty brown spice is also good for reducing nausea and helping with other digestive issues.
Sprinkle ginger onto yoghurt and fruit or use in savoury dishes and curries. The health benefits of ginger also include having the power to increase metabolism, so it is great for those wanting to lose weight.
A favourite in curries, turmeric is bright yellow spice that is ideal for mixing into salads and soups. It is found in most curry powders and gives a pleasant spicy kick to many meals.
The health benefits of turmeric are centred around the ingredient curcumin, which is contained in turmeric. Curcumin has excellent benefits in relation to brain health. It has also been shown to protect against type 2 diabetes.
Cinnamon is delicious in both savoury dishes and desserts, while the health benefits of cinnamon include fighting inflammation and reducing cholesterol.
Cinnamon has also shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar in diabetics.
Cayenne pepper is a type of chilli pepper that can be used to make many savoury dishes. It is especially useful in curries.
Cayenne contains a component called capsaicin, which helps to reduce the appetite and burn fat, making it ideal for those wanting to lose weight. Animal studies have also shown cayenne to have cancer-fighting properties.
Known as a brain food, sage is excellent for protecting the memory and fighting against cognitive decline.
Studies have shown that sage can improve brain function in those suffering from mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, so this really is a great one for the herb and spice rack.
Nutmeg is rich in antibacterial compounds that can help fight many diseases, such as listeria, E. coli, and salmonella. This powerful spice has many health benefits and is highly protective against disease.
Nutmeg is ideal mixed up with veggies and added to soups, broths and chicken dishes.
This anti-nausea herb is a great source of vitamin C and E, which are great antioxidants. Peppermint also soothes the digestive system and reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
This refreshing herb can be added to desserts and savoury dishes, working particularly well with lamb casseroles. You can also puree some peppermint leaves in a hand blender and add it to yoghurt.
Are you a fan of herbs and spices?
With all those herbs and spices to try, no meal needs to ever be boring again! In fact, just the great taste of these herbs and spices makes them worth adding to your meals – the amazing health benefits are just a fantastic bonus.
Which herbs and spices are your favourites?
Do you feel that your health benefits from using herbs?
Do you have any great recipes or tips for using these top 10 herbs and spices?