Nutrient-dense herbs and spices are the sources of health and well-being as they are packed with vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. In fact, nutrient-dense herbs and spices were used by ancients for health and medicinal purposes.
Today, researchers believe that they are medical agents. What’s more, they contain antioxidants. anti-inflammatory effects and many health benefits. Amazingly, when it comes to nutrient sources, herbs and spices rank second after organ meats. So, if you don’t have a taste for calf brain, just spice up your food!
12 Nutrient-Dense Herbs and Spices and Their Benefits
Here are the top 12 nutrient-dense herbs and spices that you can add to your next meal for a more nutritious lifestyle.
Who knew sprinkling oregano to your pizza could be that healthy? More often, we use it for its delicious taste and aroma as its dried leaves have a stronger taste and a sharp aroma. But now, you can also add it to your nutrient-rich spice list.
Oregano is a powerful anti-oxidant. Adding it to your food can save you from food-borne pathogens and carcinogenic compounds with antifungal and antibacterial properties. Moreover, it’s rich in vitamin A, C, E, and K. Oregano oil is also in use as a medicine against cancer.
Peppermint, spearmint, and water mint all are the powerhouse of medicinal properties. In fact, it’s a herb with so much variety that we rarely bother to look at.
The fresh sweet aroma of peppermint tea is enough to relieve nausea. It is also in use in aromatherapy after C-sections and surgeries to reduce the nauseous feeling.
Mint also relieves painful digestive issues and gastrointestinal problems. It soothes abdominal bloating and reduces pain while breastfeeding.
If you’re an Asian, you already know a lot about turmeric and its benefits. It’s an essential spice in East Asian countries and also in India. Backed with strong evidence, turmeric is the reason for fewer Alzheimer’s cases in East Asia compared to Europe. The key compound in turmeric is curcumin. It exhibits various neuroprotective properties.
Turmeric relieves infectious diseases, anemia and protects the body from oxidative damage. It is a top anti-inflammatory spice and can even beat some drugs in this case. Most importantly, turmeric can kill stress-related free radicals and is a super food against hypertension.
Cinnamon is a fragrant spice from countries like Indonesia. It’s a good source of vitamin E, thus help relieve stress. It is anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-flatulent. Specifically, cinnamon is the strongest anti-oxidant in all plant-related foods.
But, being anti-diabetic is where cinnamon shines the most. It reduces blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes from 10-29%, which is a significant amount. Due to the sweet taste of cinnamon, you can add it to your tea as a sugar alternative.
Tarragon, with its subtle taste, is a perennial herb. Also, it is from the Artemisia group of plants, a group wildly known to cure insomnia and other sleep-related problems. With its subtle taste, you can easily add them to a variety of foods followed by various benefits.
Its benefits include:
- Decrease blood sugar level.
- Relieve pain related to Osteoarthritis.
- Improves gut health.
This sacred herb of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian culture is carnosol-rich. It is a great arterial protector. The active ingredient of rosemary is rosmarinic acid. It reduces allergy symptoms and lessens nasal congestion.
Due to the anti-inflammatory effects of rosemary, it improves gut health and digestion. Diseases like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and Cohn’s disease can be treated with this herb. Its essential oil is fantastic for skin and hair.
Cardamom is from the ginger family, and just like its family, it is added in tea for stomach-soothing. It aids digestion and dilates arteries for blood and oxygen pressure.
In Asian countries like India, cardamom has been used since ancient times for bad breath. It kills pathogenic bacteria in the mouth and gut.
Research on rats reveals that cardamom can protect the stomach from an ulcer.
The paprika spice is from the Capsicum family. Many believe that a smoky note of paprika in soups and stews increases metabolism, boosts energy, and pumps blood by dilating your vessels.
According to a study, there is less production of ghrelin (a hunger hormone) in people who consume capsaicin lunch. So it’s a great spice to sprinkle over snacks and munch for your timeless cravings.
With that said, these peppers are a force of anti-oxidant activity and weight loss benefits.
Though not a spice, garlic is in use in many types of diets as an essential ingredient. It has several health benefits. Additionally, it has been in use for medicinal purposes since ancient times. In fact, folks used to advise eating 2-3 fresh cloves of garlic every day, as it helps regulate blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol levels.
A regular dose will also protect you from gastrointestinal problems and pathogenic bacteria.
If you have a sore throat then gargling with sage infusion will help. This herb can garnish your bland food; as it smells great and even tastes incredible. It is not just for Christmas or Thanksgiving; you can easily grow it in your herb garden and use it all year round.
Sage also treats symptoms of menopause. It helps in cognitive boost, brain function, and memory retention. So, make it your regular habit to whiff sage in the morning for great mental health.
Leafy green parsley with its anti-inflammatory properties is nutrient-rich, and it tastes amazing. It’s also a diuretic and can help you shed some water balance if you’re feeling bloated. With its anti-oxidant properties, parsley’s rich in iron, calcium, vitamin A, B, C, and a surprisingly high dose of K.
The green leaves of parsley are also rich in folate, providing stress relief and low blood sugar. Its essential oil is great for the skin, as it kills bacteria and clears blemishes.
12. Curry Powder
Using curry powder is very common in Asian countries. The curcumin in curry powder is anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative. It also protects your brain from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Most importantly, curry powder inhibits cancer cells for breast, stomach, and colon cancer.
However, what many people in the Western world don’t realize is that Curry Powder is a mixture of spices and herbs. Below is a common list of spices in curry powder:
- chili peppers
Other ingredients you may also choose to include are as follows:
- black pepper
Grow Your Own Herbs
You already know how many health benefits these herbs ad spices have. Then grow them in your kitchen garden as they are easy to grow, and low maintenance plants. Here are few benefits of growing them at home:
- They are cost effective.
- They are more fresh and tasty.
- You will find your new hobby; gardening.
- They are low maintenance plants so they easily survive bad weather.
Growing herbs and spices is the easiest. You simply grow them in your kitchen garden or in your garden. You don’t need any fancy garden kits to grow them. Just sow some seeds of the herb or spice of your choice in the soil. Water them well and put the pot in a sunny spot. After few days you will notice a pop-up.
Continue to do your own good research into any supplement, herb, or anything you put into your body. Also, always be willing to consult with your medical professional when you are in doubt.
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