Why eat herbs and spices?
Nature has given us the beauty of fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices to name just a few. Nature was intended for us to survive and thrive on. Herbs and spices are full of antioxidants and phytochemicals (non-nutritive plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties. They are non-essential nutrients, that is we don’t require them to survive but these chemicals in recent research demonstrate that they can also protect humans against diseases). (1)
Recently, I have had an inflammatory issue that’s been ongoing for a while. After I did much research I decided to make my own teas using a range of herbs and spices that act as an anti-inflammatory. I must say its working wonders! So this just proves to me herbs and spices can in fact give us that boost we need.
Herbs and spices are so easy to use. You can add them to soups, teas, baking, meat, meals and so on. Different herbs and spices can be used for different reasons or simply as a flavouring, thus reaping the benefits of including them in your diet.
Here is a list of a few of the main ones widely used with many health benefits. Fresh is best but ground can be used as well. The benefits will also depend on what you use and how you use them. Be mindful of daily safe consumption amounts and allergies. Sometimes too much of a good thing can be too much.
Cardamom: This sweet, pungent spice is in many pumpkin spices mixes. It’s known to soothe an upset stomach and provides protection. Lab studies show it may also help fight inflammation, lower blood pressure, and play a role in preventing the growth of cancer cells. “Of all spices, cardamom is especially high in minerals like magnesium and zinc,” says Professor Moreno from the University of Nutrition in Miami. (Manganese, being a mineral that helps the body form connective tissue, bones and sex hormones). It is also crucial for normal nerve and brain function, carbohydrate metabolism, fat metabolism, calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation.
This spice is also widely used as a digestive aid and a natural breath freshener amongst the people of India.
Curcumin: Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. It also helps detox the liver and improve brain function. Tumeric is what gives curry the yellow colour. In order to absorb tumeric the best way is by encapsulating it in lipids (fats) or combining it with piperine (the substance in black pepper).
Curcumin research has shown it can help alleviate pain and improve function in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. There’s also evidence that curcumin may help reduce joint pain and swelling in people with rheumatoid arthritis. It is also said to have properties to protect against cancer,
Using tumeric can help with inflammatory disorders, including arthritis, tendinitis, and autoimmune conditions.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon is sweet, low in calories and sugar free. Lab studies show that it also may help with inflammation, fend off free radicals that can damage your cells, fight off bacteria, and even protect against conditions that affect your brain or nervous system, like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s (Moreno).
It can also lower blood sugar levels, reduce heart disease risk factors and has large amounts of other health benefits.
Ginger: Possible health benefits include relieving nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness, and pain. The root or underground stem (rhizome) of the ginger plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried as a spice, in oil form, or as juice.
Dr. Axe says, the health benefits of ginger are largely due to its antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and content of therapeutic compounds. It helps fight fungal infection, protects against stomach ulcers, helps ease menstrual pain, may inhibit cancer growth, regulates blood sugar, relieves joint and muscle pain, lowers cholesterol, improves brain function and blocks bacterial infections.
Garlic: Garlic is a plant in the Allium family (onions). Ancient history shows the main use of garlic was for its health and medicinal properties. Garlic can combat sickness and the common cold, it can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, lower risk of heart disease, help prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia, improve athletic performance, detox heavy metals from the body, help maintain blood circulation, enhances the immune system and improve bone health.
It can even help people with arthritis or fibromyalgia.arlic must be cut or crushed as the properties are found within the clove.
Basil: (Holy Basil) There are about 35 varieties of basil however Holy Basil is the most known for its health properties. Basil can help by being anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and contains powerful adaptogen — meaning it helps the body to respond to stress and fight disease.
Proven benefits are:
- Pain-reducer (analgesic)
- Fever-reducer (antipyretic)
- Liver-protector (hepatoprotective)
- Blood vessel-protector
- Anti-stress solution
- Immune-booster (2)
- And more!
- It can even help people with arthritis or fibromyalgia.
Parsley: A readily accessible herb available all year through here in Australia that’s easy to grow. It has a more bitter taste so I often use in place of salt.
Parsley not only provides a beautiful garnish but many healing properties. It is a rich source of antioxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate and iron. Many a research has showed it helps prevent cancer, including prevention of skin cancer and decrease tumour size. It’s also beneficial for maintaining a healthy heart, preventing diabetes, increasing bone strength and protection against rheumatoid arthritis.
If your taking blood thinners, seek medical advice first due to the high Vitamin K content.
If you have any health concerns definately see your doctor but wow, the benefits of including these in your everyday diet is amazing!
So easy to include and oh so tasty!
(2) NBCI US National Library of Medicine
Worlds Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com, worlds no.1
Medical News Today, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com