Herbs & spices add flavor to cooking without adding salt, excess fat and artificial chemicals additives. Using herbs to flavor food is especially recommended for people watching their sodium intake and wanting to avoid adding high salt seasoning blends to meals. They also contain health benefits that not many people are familiar with due to their vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant capacity.
What is the difference between an herb and a spice?
- Herbs: come from the leafy part of a plant, and are usually dried
- Spices: are usually obtained from seeds, fruit, roots, bark, or some other vegetative substances.
Examples of Herbs with Health Benefits:
Oregano: significant source of vitamin K, strong antibacterial agent, and high in antioxidants. One teaspoon of oregano has the antioxidant capacity that is 42 times more active than apples, maybe we should change the common one apple a day quote to “one teaspoon of oregano a day keeps the doctor away?”
Basil: significant source of vitamin K, aids in reducing inflammation, strong antibacterial agent, and contributes to greater heart health.
Thyme: significant source of vitamin K, powerful antimicrobial, antifungal agent, and a natural food preservative
***Thyme has a long history of use in natural medicine in connection with chest and respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis, and chest congestion. Thyme’s most active ingredient, thymol, is used in cough drops and vapor rubs for colds.
Rosemary: good source of fiber, iron, and calcium. Emerging research has been showing evidence that rosemary can fight free radical damage in the brain as well as improve digestion and circulation. This could help reduce the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Cinnamon: significant source of manganese, very good source of fiber, iron, and calcium. Anti-inflammatory properties, anti-clotting actions, and a natural food preservative. Cinnamon has also been shown to help regulate consistent blood sugar levels.
Ginger: remedy for motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting. Good source of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6. I have heard many pregnant friends who stated that ginger greatly helped them manage morning sickness.
These are just a FEW of the many spices that contain health benefits above and beyond just seasoning your food, next time you are cooking in the kitchen see how you can incorporate more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants into your meals. Eat for your health!!!
If you are interested in learning more cooking ideas for using these spices, check out their website at:
Cinthia Scott, RD, LD, CNSC