I am obsessed with my spice rack. There are about a dozen herbs and spices there that can turn plain old chicken into a new dish every night. Not to mention the pasta sauces, salad toppings and soups that are always delicious but never the exact same recipe twice (I don’t measure, it’s all about getting creative and taste testing).
But recently I’ve been doing a lot more research on these powerful ingredients (many thanks to the healing abilities of Rosemary in Nature’s Aid)… and it turns out, they aren’t just delicious. In fact, they provide quite a powerhouse of anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants, as well as offer numerous other health benefits.
Using these herbs and spices experiment with your meals and let a little extra flavour deliver big time results for your health.
1. Basil: a good source of magnesium, basil promotes cardiovascular health by improving blood flow. Other benefits include detoxifying the liver and calming the nerves. It is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and anti-oxidants.
2. Cilantro: in addition to being high in Vitamin K, cilantro improves bone health, helps the blood clot, and maybe most importantly, helps the body get rid of heavy metals. This is because our bodies mistake heavy metals for nutrients but cilantro attaches itself to mercury and lead, amongst others, and draws them out.
3. Garlic: although not technically an herb or spice, it is a flavouring ingredient and so I am going to add this highly nutritious superfood with very few calories to the list. Rich in Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Manganese, garlic has shown to boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol. In high doses, it can even help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as well as offer antioxidant properties.
4. Lavender: beyond its calming and soothing effects, lavender can help beat bloating and other digestive issues such as nausea and gas. It is also beneficial at relieving pain from headaches and toothaches.
5. Nutmeg: a common baking spice that is also great in ciders and coffee, nutmeg can ease stomach problems, fight off bacteria and fungi, and is a good source of fibre and anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Oregano: a good source of fibre, oregano has both antibacterial and antifungal properties. Research has also found it to be effective against yeast infections with oregano directly attacking microbes and inhibiting the growth of Candida albicans.
7. Parsley: never overlook this lovely garnish, as parsley has many nutritional and health benefits that should not be ignored. These include volatile oils that can help neutralize certain types of carcinogens (i.e. charcoal grill smoke), folic acid and B vitamins. A promoter of cardiovascular health, parsley can help protect against rheumatoid arthritis and offers more than half of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K, a nutrient that is essential for healthy blood.
8. Rosemary: this aromatic herb does more than just pair well with poultry and fish, its smell has been shown to improve memory. Further, it is rich in antioxidants that fight cancer cells. Using rosemary extract, or marinating foods with a spice mix that contains rosemary, can greatly reduce heterocyclic amines (HCAs) which are carcinogens that occur when frying, boiling or grilling meats at high temperatures.
9. Sage: traditionally used to treat fevers and as a calming agent, recent research has been corroborating these uses and more. Studies have found that sage can help with memory and cognition, as well as soothe indigestion, relieve hot flashes, anxiety and fatigue, and fight early signs of aging.
10. Thyme: this herb is commonly found in gardens, pantries and pretty much any recipe you can think of. Did you know it even adds wonderful flavour to champagne? More than that, it is full of antioxidants that help prevent cancer, inflammation and signs of aging. It can also be used for respiratory ailments such as coughs, chest congestion and bronchitis.