Salt and pepper are not the only ones that can add taste and flavor to what we eat. More than determining whether or not our meals can taste good, herbs and spices have various benefits that aid in overall health. All of these come from plants and their parts, including flowers, fruits, seeds and leaves, so it makes sense that they are packed with both flavor and antioxidants.
Many herbs and spices contain antibacterial and antiviral properties, and are often high in certain nutrients. Some are also shown to aid in weight loss and appetite control or even satisfy sweet tooth without calories. Whether store-bought and organic or grown in-house, Wellness Mama has shared the following herbs and spices that will add health benefits to your meals:
Having the highest antioxidant value of any spice, cinnamon is shown by studies to reduce inflammation while lowering blood sugar and blood pressure, thus aiding in weight loss. Like ginger, it has also been used to relieve nausea. Packed with manganese, iron, calcium and other important minerals, cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties that extend the life of foods —
both sweet and savory.
Basil can help prevent osteoarthritis, thanks to its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used in treating digestive disorders. The herb also has anti-cancer properties. In fact, one study found that basil leaf-based extract can help detoxify the body of carcinogens.
Used abundantly in Indian cuisine, this oft-overlooked spice is not only mild and fragrant but also powerful because it contains curcumin, an active ingredient that serves as a potent anti-inflammatory compound. Curcumin itself can help fight cancer, ease symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and boost the immune system.
Used in Italian food, garlic has its own share of health benefits. It is long believed that this pungent herb can help fight cancer and this claim is backed by research. Research also found that eating raw garlic helps cure colds and the flu when paired with vitamin C and a little honey.
Dill is a favorite among pregnant women probably because it can soothe an upset stomach, especially during morning sickness. Its essential oils have been used in medicine to treat diseases in the kidneys, gallbladder, stomach and liver.
The hotter the cayenne, the better. More accurately, cayenne pepper’s medicinal properties come from capsaicin, which increases heat when in abundance. The antioxidants present fights free radicals while being beneficial for improving cholesterol levels, boosting metabolism and even fighting against heart and fatty liver diseases.
Packed with fiber, iron and vitamin C, fennel seeds are incredibly nutritious choices. They contain a high level of manganese, a mineral that helps in bone development, blood sugar regulation, wound healing and other bodily functions. These seeds may also help with weight loss. A study found that drinking fennel tea helped suppress short-term appetite among overweight women.
Mint is not just known as part of peppermint tea or as an ingredient in most toothpastes. It is great for dealing with digestive problems and can also help alleviate IBS-related issues such as bloating and gas. Mint is not only good for the belly but also helps your brain. One study found that sniffing peppermint essential oil can enhance memory and other cognitive functions.
Both oregano and the milder marjoram are great for overall health since they are antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial and even anti-cancer. In addition, oregano helps balance blood sugar while relieving inflammation.
Next to black pepper, cumin is the second most used herb in the world. The herb has antimicrobial properties and is used in reducing flatulence. It is often used in tacos, chili and other Mexican dishes.
Rosemary is more than just a common nice-smelling household plant. In addition to having natural anti-inflammatory agents, it has a high concentration of carnosol, an antioxidant that has potential in fighting different cancer and tumor types.
Thyme A member of the mint family, thyme contains thymol, a potent germ-killing antioxidant used in mouthwashes such as Listerine. Swishing your mouth with thyme-infused water will have a similar effect. A diluted thyme tincture can also be used in treating athlete’s foot and vaginal yeast infections. Cilantro Also known as coriander, cilantro has various health benefits, including its ability to detox heavy metals from industrial waste and agricultural runoff. In addition, the herb contains lots of antioxidants and can also be used to heal gastrointestinal issues, control cholesterol and, in traditional Iranian medicine, help ease anxiety and insomnia.