Many of us have a cabinet FULL or herbs and spices that we use to conjure up all sorts of kitchen creations. We all know that they TASTE good, but have you ever taken a minute to think about WHERE those herbs came from and WHAT other benefit they can add to our lives, other than the delicious flavors they bring to our mouth?!
Since all herbs and spices are derived directly from plants (flowers, fruits, seeds, barks, leaves, and roots), I got to thinking that adding them to our daily cuisine probably packs quite the nutritional punch! I did some research and came up with this list of common herbs with amazing health benefits that were in my spice cabinet and are probably in yours too!! It was amazing to see just how easy it is to incorporate more of these herbs to help us live a #healthierhappier life!
5 Common Herbs That Can Benefit Your Health!
- Turmeric: In my research, I found out that Turmeric works just like cox-2 inhibitors, a type of DRUG that calms inflammation. Many people use this herb to reduce the stiffness and pain associated with arthritis and some research even shows that turmeric can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and colon cancer.
Turmeric is very commonly used in Indian cuisine, but we find it being used a lot today in tea, soups and broths, too!! In the past, I’ve added powdered turmeric to egg dishes, meat dishes, sauces and baked goods. This is where you can get the health benefits without an overpowering flavor profile. When buying turmeric, and other powdered herbs and spices, I always choose to buy organic, because it’s not only good for your health, it’s good for the environment, too!
- Cinnamon: Did you know that Cinnamon comes from the bark of tropical, evergreen trees? What an interesting fact!! Cinnamon is well known for reducing triglycerides, blood sugar and cholesterol. It’s also been proven to help with heartburn, respiratory illness, appetite suppression, diarrhea and arthritis and to eliminate bad breath and toothaches, as well. Holy Moly, that’s some resume!!
In our house, we sprinkle cinnamon on steel cut oats in the morning and mix it up with seeds, nuts and a diced apple for a balanced breakfast. We also use it to make a popular favorite, Cinnamon Toast in the morning and we add it to MOST of our baked goods and other desserts like puddings, too!! I have used it used it freely in marinades and I’ve also found it in many of the rubs we use for beef, venison and lamb. In recent years, I’ve started adding cinnamon to my coffee, too so that I can make sure I get in this powerful herb almost daily!!
- Ginger: Every morning I start my day with a cup of hot water, some minced fresh ginger and lemon. YUMM-O!!! I do this because I’ve read that ginger aids in the digestion process and keeps our digestive fire burning all day! I also know that it helps to alleviate minor stomach troubles and can prevent motion sickness, too. This powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb helps to reduce arthritis pain, regulate blood pressure and cuts cancer risk and that’s just a few more reasons to add it to your daily regime in the kitchen!!
Fresh or dried varieties of ginger can be used freely in smoothies and added to freshly-squeezed juices, stir-fry dishes, marinades and salad dressings. Ginger is very easily incorporated into tea, too! Use it often and in abundance to take advantage of all of it’s amazing health benefits!!
- Garlic: This perennial plant has many scientifically proven health benefits. In addition to warding off vampires and bad dates, studies show that garlic can help to reverse diabetes, lower cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, fight heart disease and cancer, relieve allergies and boost our immune systems!! Did you know that people that consume garlic on a regular basis also have improved hair loss, fight off fungal infections and are at a reduced risk of inflammation, too? The list of healing properties in this potent herb goes on and on and its list of uses in the kitchen is just as long!
While cooking with garlic is a great idea, the benefits of garlic are far better when it’s consumed in its raw form. But don’t put down that sautée pan just yet: a report by Science Daily explains that if raw garlic is first chopped and then left to sit for 45 minutes before cooking, the health benefits are more likely to remain! That’s good news for us and here’s even more great news: Powdered garlic is made from fresh, dried garlic, so when we use this super-food powder AFTER the cooking process, it doesn’t only enhance flavors but will maintain many of its health-promoting properties, too!
- Basil: I’m sure you heard of the healing properties of St. John’s Wort…but did you know that Basil is a close relative and its REAL NAME is “St. Joseph’s Wort”?? Basil is said to contain disease-fighting antioxidants and studies have also shown that it is proven to reduce inflammation and have anti-aging and anti-bacterial properties, too!! This is a very popular herb in cooking and at just 8 calories per ounce and full of Vitamins A, C and K and Manganese, Copper, Calcium, Folate and Iron, basil is a nutrient-heavy/calorie-light addition to any meal!!
Basil is often found in Italian cuisine, so I often use it in fresh or dried form as one of the main ingredients in both Pesto and Marinara Sauces. Basil can be added to many Indian dishes, as well and can also be added to salads, stir-fries, soups and tea!
So, unlike other flavor enhancers in our foods, herbs and spices can provide tasty additions to our meals while also contributing to our greater overall health!! Packed with micro-nutrients and antioxidants, herbs are a proven plant-based remedy for treating pain, preventing disease and inflammation and they can also help us to boost energy and remain focused! Isn’t it amazing news that we can cure or prevent many of our everyday ailments by reaching into our spice cabinet instead of our medicine cabinet??