Herbs and Spices 101

medical_10034722-031914I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the taste improvement of any meal simply by adding a few herbs and spices! For such small things they really do pack a flavour punch.

But have you thought much about the health benefits of these little guys? Today’s article is all about the health benefits of herbs and spices!

Remember that just as with food, try to look for organic herbs and spices to ensure that you are getting the best quality with the least toxins.

 


Bay Leaf

Benefits:

  • Aids digestion
  • Regulates metabolism
  • Boosts immunity
  • Assists with blood-related conditions, e.g. anemia
  • Does wonders for your skin and hair

Uses:

  • Add to any kind of stew or soup to add flavour.
  • Also bay leaves are often used with other spices to make curries.


Basil

Benefits:

  • Natural anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-viral properties
  • Assists with osteoarthritis

Uses:

  • Versatile herb that can be used most dishes
  • Common italian ingredient – I always like to add fresh basil to anything with tomato
  • Omelettes
  • Roasted veges

Black Pepper

Benefits:

  • Full of antioxidants, which may assist cancer recovery
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Can alleviate gastrointestinal upset and gas
  • Regulates blood pressure

Uses:

  • Hmmmmm, what CAN’T you add black pepper too?

Caraway Seeds

Benefits:

  • Improve digestion and reduce constipation
  • Full of minerals, including thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and niacin, iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium

Uses:

  • I use caraway seeds in my sauerkraut recipe

Cayenne Pepper

Benefits:

  • Increase circulation
  • Clears the sinuses
  • Full of antioxidants, which can fight against colds
  • Stabilise blood sugar and assist diabetes

Uses:

  • Go easy on this one – a small quantity packs a HUGE punch
  • I like to add a tiny bit of cayenne pepper to my morning warm lemon water
  • Anything mexican

Cinnamon

Benefits:

  • Cinnamon has the highest antioxidant value of any spice
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Fantastic for diabetes or PCOS, as it can stabilise blood sugar and blood triglyceride levels, and increase sensitivity to insulin
  • Alleviates nausea
  • Increases the health of the eyes and skin

Uses:

  • Add to baked apples
  • I like to make my own cinnamon chocolate – melt some cacao butter and mix in cacao powder with some cinnamon. Pour onto some baking paper and put in the freezer until set
  • You don’t need to use cinnamon just for sweet dishes – it can go well with pumpkin soup or in curry powders
  • Try adding it to chicken for a moroccan style dish

Coriander

Benefits:

  • Great for skin health
  • Alleviates diarrhea
  • Antiseptic properties
  • Full of iron, so great for treating blood issues including anemia

Uses:

  • Coriander is one of those things – you either love it or hate it
  • I like fresh coriander with Vietnamese styled salads
  • I also add a few sprigs towards the end of the cooking of Indian or Thai curries

Dill

Benefits:

  • Anti-bacterial properties
  • Boost digestive health
  • Can calm hiccups!

Uses:

  • Be aware that dill will lose most of its nutrient properties when heated to high temperatures. Therefore it’s best to use either raw or add at the very end of cooking.
  • Add to fish (especially salmon)
  • Add to salad dressings
  • I love my dill with eggs

Garlic

Benefits:

  • Great for the common cold as it boosts the immune system
  • Improve blood pressure for those with hypertension
  • Can assist with detoxification of heavy metals

Uses:

  • Sautee in a bit of coconut oil or ghee at the start of any soup, bolognaise, stew or curry

Ginger

Benefits:

  • Aids digestion
  • Alleviates nausea – particularly travel sickness and morning sickness
  • Ease sore throats

Uses:

  • I have ginger on a daily basis, I grate it into my warm lemon water
  • Curries
  • Tea
  • Store in the freezer to last longer

Mint

Benefits:

  • Calms digestive issues
  • Alleviates nausea
  • Alleviates headaches
  • Mint oil can act as an antiseptic

Uses:

  • Chew a few leaves after a meal as a natural chewing gum
  • Add to warm water to make a tea
  • Add to fresh fruit

Mustard Seeds

Benefits:

  • Source of B-complex vitamins
  • Can reduce triglyceride and cholesterol levels
  • Improve the strength of your teeth and bones

Uses:

  • Add to salad dressings or home-made mayonnaise

Oregano

Benefits:

  • Anti-viral, anti-bacterial and antibiotic
  • Anti-microbial properties  which can protect against food-borne pathogens like Listeria
  • Oregano oil and leaves are used medicinally in treatment of cough, fever, congestion, body ache and illness

Uses:

  • Add to any kind of Italian dish
  • Add to roasted veges

Parsley

Benefits:

  • Huge quantities of Vitamin K and Vitamin C
  • Great for immunity and colds
  • Good source of folic acid which is great for pregnancy
  • Assists with Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms
  • Contains Myristicin which has been found to protect against lung tumors

Uses:

  • I LOVE PARSLEY
  • Add to scrambled eggs
  • Add to bone broth
  • Add to bolognaise

Rosemary

Benefits:

  • High concentration of the antioxidant carnosol, which can assist in cancer treatment
  • Good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Folic Acid
  • Water boiled with rosemary can be used as an antiseptic

Uses:

  • This one goes well with roasted potatoes or other roasted veges
  • Add to any kind of lamb dish

Saffron

Benefits:

  • Full of carotenoids and
  • Boosts immune system
  • Fights infections in wounds
  • Can bring about a feeling of calmness and induce sleep
  • Stimulates red blood cell formation
  • Modulates hormonal activity (particularly good for building progesterone

Uses:

  • Saffron can be very expensive, and each thread is quite flavoursome, so you only need small quantities
  • Add to scrambled eggs
  • Gently boil with a good quality milk (organic raw milk if possible) to make a sleepy tonic

Sage

Benefits:

  • Improve brain function and memory
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • May assist with Alzheimer’s
  • Full of Vitamin K

Uses:

  • I love to add sage to my chicken liver pate
  • Great with pork and apple dishes
  • Leftover sage can be dried to make your own smudge stick, which when burned, you can perform a cleansing (smudging) ceremony for places, objects and even people

Salt

Benefits:

  • Jam packed full of trace minerals – 84 of them to be exact
  • Assists with adrenal recovery
  • Promote healthy pH balance
  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Balance blood sugar

Uses:

  • Avoid table salt and look for a salt that is as close to nature as possible – either a Himalayan or Celtic Sea salt)
  • Add to most dishes, even a pinch in sweet dishes
  • Add to foot baths
  • Dissolve in warm water and use to clean wounds

Thyme

Benefits:

  • Contains thymol, which is a potent antioxidant (and also the potent ingredient in Listerine mouthwash!)
  • Taken internally as a tea, it can treat athletes foot and vaginal yeast infections

Uses:

  • Add to dishes as the start of cooking, as it slowly releases the benefits
  • Add to scrambled eggs
  • Add to bolognaise
  • 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.

Turmeric

Benefits:

  • It contains curcumin, which is a cancer-fighting compound and helps to boost anti-oxidant levels
  • Powerful anti-inflammatory
  • Boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which can fight degenerative diseases of the brain, including Alzheimer’s
  • Treat the symptoms of arthritis

Uses:

  • This definitely my favourite spice
  • Very common in Indian foods, particularly curry powder
  • When in season, I grate fresh turmeric to my warm lemon water
  • Add turmeric powder to scrambled eggs
  • Add to soups and curries

Vanilla Bean

Benefits:

  • Stabilise blood pressure
  • Reduce heart rate and soothe the nerves
  • Enhance relaxation and induce sleep

Uses:

  • I buy vanilla bean powder for convenience and add to fruit
  • Use as a substitute sweetener

 

Most of my research came from Authority Nutrition, which includes references to specific studies.

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