Most of the time when we're adding spices and herbs to our diet it's to add some flavor to something that we're eating, but the cool thing about that is that they all have awesome health benefits. Many of these health benefits can be enjoyed by consuming the herbs and spices on a regular basis, but many of them can also be taken in a supplement form to make sure that the concentration is high enough to really get the benefits.
Some of these benefits range from controlling the blood sugar to inhibiting tumor growth, clearing up the skin to working as an antiseptic. After reading this list you will never look at your spice options the same come dinner time.
13 Black Pepper
Black pepper is really good for the digestive system. When you eat black pepper it stimulates the taste buds and alerts the body to create more hydrochloric acid secretion which helps to digest food, helping to prevent the buildup of gas. Black pepper is also known to reduce respiratory problems, coughs, the cold, anemia, heart disease, and dental disease. The outer layer of the peppercorn has also been shown to breakdown fat cells, which means it can support a weight loss plan. It's also a good source of manganese, iron, potassium, vitamin-C, vitamin K, and dietary fiber.
Cayenne pepper is an awesome spice for heating things up, and that heat offers some medicinal properties as well. The spice comes from a few different tropical chili plants, it can both improve the workings of the digestive system and also has the capacity to relieve pain with the help of its capsaicin. Cayenne is also good for loosening up mucus which can bring relief when you have a cold. The more capsaicin you can get the better, so go with the spicier types of chilis when possible. Cayenne pepper is super tasty on eggs and even works to heat up otherwise sweet drinks or cocktails that are juice based.
The root turmeric is a close cousin to ginger. It contains the antioxidant curcumin which is an anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help improve the symptoms of disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, and even ulcers in the digestive system. Other research has shown that turmeric might be able to help slow the growth of cancer tumors and can be a good supplement to take alongside chemotherapy. Turmeric is great to add to juice drinks, soups, and rice dishes, but to get enough of the curcumin it can be helpful to take the turmeric in a supplement.
Sumac has sort of a lemony flavor thanks to the berries that are dried and ground up to make it. It's used a lot in Middle eastern cuisines and is a great source of antioxidants. Some studies suggest that it may be able to help lower cholesterol and levels of glucose in the blood. A 2014 report found that type 2 diabetic patients had better control over their blood sugar levels at the end of the three month study period. To get more sumac in your diet try adding it to sides like hummus and guacamole, or sprinkling it onto vegetable dishes.
Parsley is usually just seen as a decoration on the edge of the plate, but it does have its health benefits as well. For one thing, chewing on it will freshen up the breath. Parsley has been used for health reasons since the days of the Romans, and some believe that it can help prevent buildup in the arteries and pass kidney stones thanks to its ability to help flush fluid out of the body. One of the oils in the herb has been found to help prevent the growth of tumors, and it might be able to help neutralize particular types of carcinogens. The herb is a good source of vitamin C, B 12, K, and A.
Oregano contains the antibacterial agents thymol and carvacol, which can both fight off infection. Believe it or not, oregano has four times the number of antioxidants that blueberries do, and it's a great source of omega-3s, iron, and manganese. It contains power antimicrobials that may be able to kill the pathogen Listeria as well as the MRSA bacteria. It can also be a good choice for killing candida (yeast) in the body. It's anti-viral activity is good for respiratory issues. Oregano can be grown at home easily which means you can always have it fresh on hand. It's great on pizzas, as you probably know already.
Thyme is another herb that is easy to grow at home. The oil from the herb has both antiseptic and antibacterial properties, and it has been shown to kill the MRSA virus which is an antibiotic resistant form of staph that can be incredibly hard to contain. A tincture of thyme has been shown to help reduce acne, and might even work better than acne products like benzoyl peroxide. Thyme has been shown to reduce blood pressure in rats, it's a natural cough remedy, and is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, copper, fiber, iron, and manganese.
Garlic is in the onion family so it contains allium which has been used medicinally throughout history. Compounds in garlic have been found to reduce the duration of the cold as well as the likelihood of getting one to begin with, reduce the blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, it can reduce fatigue, improve the health of bones, and detoxify the body from heavy metals. To make sure you're getting all the health benefits associated with garlic, it needs to be crushed when raw before it is cooked, otherwise the health benefits are diminished. It can also be taken in supplement form to avoid the whole bad breath thing.
Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tropical evergreen tree that has been ground up after it is dried. Cinnamon has the ability to lower the blood sugar which means it can make whatever you're eating it with more glycemic friendly, and it also plays a part in lowering cholesterol. Some research has shown that it might be able to help reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease as well. It's pretty easy to get more cinnamon in your diet thanks to its sweeter taste. Mix it into coffee, baked goods, or top off your oatmeal with it. It can also be used in more savory dishes like chili or sauces.
It's easy to get plenty of basil in your diet since it pairs so well with cheesy pizza and it's a big ingredient in pesto. Basil is a good source of vitamin K, manganese, copper, vitamin C, calcium, iron (it's up there with spinach), folate, and surprisingly omega-3 fatty acids. The oil of basil can be used to clear up acne, and it contains phytochemicals that can lower the levels of cortisol in the body which is why it's used as a stress reducer. Holy basil has also been found to be a liver cleanser so it's good to pop it in supplement form when you're trying to detoxify the body.
The herb rosemary has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that have made it a popular choice in the medicinal world as well as the culinary one. Rosemary has been known to be good for the respiratory system, the digestive system, and it even has calcium for the bones. In mice, rosemary has been proven to help strengthen the memory, so there is some evidence it might be good for our brains as well. One great way to get more rosemary in your diet is to infuse your olive oil with it, which also looks pretty nice when it's on display.
If you aren't familiar with anise, it's flavor is generally compared to licorice. Anise actually contains compounds that are similar to estrogen, which makes it a natural option for treating menstrual cramps. It also has been found to dry up runny noses and coughs, as well as calm stomach aches. Anise also contains the antioxidants phenylpropanoids, which might even be effective against parasites. To work more anise into your life, it does well as an added ingredient into baked goods or even sausage. The flavor is fairly sweet which is why you might notice it in some liqueurs.
The nutmeg is actually the fruit of an evergreen tree. It can make you feel calm thanks to its sedative properties, reduce the pain of menstruation, and helps the digestive system stay on track. The ancient Roman and Greeks considered it a brain tonic and believed it helped to relieve stress and fatigue. You can actually eat the nut of a nutmeg whole, but it's important to cap it at one nut per day. If you overdo it it can cause stomach pain and even double vision. It's generally eaten ground and is a tasty addition to something like yogurt or baked goods.