Spices and herbs are often relegated to bit players when it comes to healthy eating, but many deserve more recognition for the nutrients they provide. While small in size they pack more antioxidants and other healthy substances than meets the eye.
If you’re looking to round out your healthy lifestyle, you’ll want to stock up on the following herbs and spices and use them generously in your cooking, or use them on their own to enhance the absorption and benefits received.
When buying spices and herbs organic is best, as it means you’ll be avoiding pesticides and herbicides that find their way into conventionally grown products.
Turmeric provides anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it can be helpful with a long list of conditions and disorders brought about by excessive inflammation. Turmeric can be used as an all-natural way to treat the symptoms of arthritis, and to sooth the digestive system.
But perhaps the most pressing reason to take turmeric is its anti-cancer benefits, backed by promising research that shows turmeric can help you avoid cancer, or stop its progression if you already have it.
Turmeric is most often seen in curries and chutney, and can be seen paired with other spices when more of a blended flavor is desired.
Tastes like: Turmeric has a distinctive flavor to it, and is the primary spice used in many Indian-style curries. On its own it has a tart taste to it, which is why you’ll often see it used with cumin, cardamom, and other spices to help round out the flavor.
Rosemary is a boon to the immune system, helping to keep it healthy and functioning properly. Your immune system not only helps you fight short-term dangers like the flu or the common cold, but long-term risks like cancer and other debilitating diseases. It’s vital to provide your body with what it needs to keep the immune system going strong.
Rosemary can also help to improve the circulation of the body, which can help with heart health and the cardiovascular system in general, as well as improving brain function by getting more blood to the brain which requires a good flow of blood to carry on its advanced functions.
If you’ve had some stomach trouble, you may also try using rosemary as a way to help calm down your digestive system.
Tastes like: Rosemary may have you thinking of pine trees, as this is what it most resembles in both aroma and flavor. It has a minty flavor to it behind all of the pine scent. You’ll often see rosemary used to enhance the flavor of chicken and potatoes because it does a good job of permeating the entire dish.
Basil may not be on your health radar because of its classification as an herb and use as an ancillary ingredient, but it’s time to start upping your intake of it. That’s because it is loaded with benefits like shoring up your DNA, calming inflammation, and boosting your cardiovascular health.
It’s odd to think that something as inconspicuous as basil can help protect your body at the cellular level, but that’s what it does.
As if that wasn’t enough, basil acts as an antibacterial agent in the body, removing harmful bacteria, but allowing helpful bacteria to thrive. Consider growing your own basil so you can use it as fresh as can be, and know how it was grown.
Tastes like: The peppery taste of fresh basil is tough to match in the world of herbs and spices. The number one dish that showcases basil’s amazing flavor is pesto, as basil is the primary ingredient. Pesto is a great way to add the goodness of basil to a wide variety of meals.
Ground cumin deserves a place on your spice shelf not only because of the flavor it provides, but also its health benefits. Among these are digestive benefits, helping to avoid diabetes, and providing much-needed nutrients.
Diabetics should familiarize themselves with cumin because it has been shown to help with several conditions that affect those with diabetes. Of course you’ll always want to check with your doctor before increasing any food or spice, and ask them what is the best diet to follow for your specific situation.
Cumin can help your digestion as well, and provides essential minerals like phosphorus, thiamine, and potassium, which your body needs each day in order to fire on all cylinders.
Tastes like: Most people associate cumin to tacos, because it’s the main ingredient in most taco seasoning packets. Try it on roasted potatoes or any other dish that you want to add a savory flavor to.
You most likely already have nutmeg if you like to bake or make desserts. It’s a spice that shows up on most commonly used spices lists, but few know that it actually provides benefits to the body.
Nutmeg has detoxifying properties, which is why it is used as an ingredient in many detox beverages and cleansing programs. It can spur the liver to expel toxins and helps expunge the kidneys of impurities.
It can also be used to help you fall asleep, and as a natural remedy for many everyday digestive problems that typically get treated with an over-the-counter medication.
Tastes like: The nuttiness of nutmeg is what is most commonly used to describe the way it tastes. But there isn’t a spice out there that tastes exactly like nutmeg. It’s the spice used in eggnog to make it taste the way it does.
Most of the benefits of saffron are seen when using a saffron extract, and not the saffron you see in stores with seasonings and spices. However, it may be worth taking because of what it may be able to do for you.
For instance, it has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression, as well as menstrual cramping. Clinical depression is a serious condition, so you’d want to explore options with your doctor. PMS symptoms vary from woman to woman, and your doctor is best suited to help you ease menstrual pain and other symptoms.
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