People around the world have known for centuries about the healing power of herbs and spices. They are perhaps one of the most overlooked sources of amazing nutrition, they also inject flavour into the foods we love. If you’re looking to step up your health game, start off by incorporating more fresh herbs and spices into your life.
It’s best to buy certified organic herbs and spices to ensure you’re getting the highest quality nutritional value of them for their health promoting benefits.
Here are my top picks for herbs and spices with the best health benefits.
May help with boosting metabolism and taming appetite. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, the compound that gives fresh chilies and also cayenne and paprika their kick. Some studies have shown capsaicin may help to bump up metabolic rate. Add a pinch of this spice to any meal to give it some kick.
Really good to help stabilize blood sugar levels and to prevent diabetes. It can help to improve circulation, respiratory colds, coughs, sinus congestion and is high in antioxidants. Add freshly ground cinnamon to oatmeal, smoothies, baking or a pinch into your morning coffee.
Cloves are antibacterial, and may be effective against e-coli. It’s also contain antioxidant properties and may helps with pain relief (especially toothaches). Add this spice to baking or tea.
One of my favourite spices to help aid digestion as it has a calmative effect on digestion which helps to ease flatulence and bloating. Especially good to use when cooking more vegetarian meals using beans/legumes/lentils which for some can cause bloating. Add dried ground or whole cumin seeds to curries, soups, stir-fries.
Another great herb to aid digestion. Fennel can help to relive digestive discomfort (flatulence, cramps, nausea, low digestive fire). It relaxes smooth muscles and is a specific herb for lower abdominal pain from lower bowel tension. It’s also good for nervous tension in muscle tissue and contraction in the smooth muscle. Fennel also can be useful for the respiratory system and helping with coughs and clearing phlegm. Fennel also helps to stimulate lactation and improve breast milk. Add dried fennel to curries, soups, homemade patties, or add 1 teaspoon into a cup of boiling water for a digestive aid tea. Chop up raw fennel and toss through a salad.
With it’s potent bioactive compounds and other nutrients, garlic has been said to boost the immune system, and may help to lower high blood pressure. Enjoy whole garlic roasted, or add into homemade dressing, or chopped into stir-fired, curries, soups.
Probably my favourite spice! Ginger helps to increase circulation and the thermogenic effect in the body. It’s great for asthmatics. It’s well-known for easing queasy stomachs, whether it’s form motion sickness, morning sickness, nausea. Ginger stimulates digestion (especially if you chew on a slice of fresh ginger with a pinch of salt 10 minutes before a meal), helps to relieve bloating and flatulence. Great for respiratory conditions and clearing phlegm. Add fresh ginger slices to boiling water to make a tea, or grate into curries, stir-fries, soups, smoothies.
Very good to help support the gastrointestinal tract and aid in digestion. Also very good to help break down and emulsify fat by stimulating the flow of bile which promotes digestion. Chop up fresh leaves, add to a smoothie, make a herbal tea, or chop into a salad.
High in nutrients, including vitamin K, calcium, iron, fibre and antioxidants. It could help boost heart health and fight off infections. Add fresh oregano into salads, onto of roasted veggies, stir-fried, or add dried oregano onto roasted vegetables, meat, stir-fried, soups.
Another one of my personal faves. It’s high in minerals, vitamin C and some B-vitamins. It’s a cleansing herb and can be used to help gently detoxify the body and reduce inflammation. It’s also a carminative herb and is high in antioxidants. Chop up the fresh herb and to a salad, or try out my green goddess dressing (I toss this through roasted veggies, GF pasta, or drizzle ontop of a salad).
A member of the mint family. It has been shown to help improve concentration which could help to improve brain function and mood. Enjoy fresh rosemary on roasted veggies or meat, or dried rosemary in curries, stir-fries, soups, casseroles.
It a powerful anti-inflammatory spice (helping to relive pain) and is high in antioxidants. It helps to cleanse the body improve liver function. It aids digestion and can to reduce gut inflammation and gut permeability. Sprinkle onto a roast or stir-fried veggies, on meat, add to a soup or homemade dressing, or enjoy a turmeric latte.