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healthiest spices and herbs to use

Are you ready to spice up your life and health?

Everybody talks a lot about food and ingredients that fuel the body and provide amazing benefits. But today I want to give some love to spices as well. No meal is ever finished without some spice or herb added to it, right? Because spices are delicious! And they have the power to elevate any dish to another level of deliciousness.

The amazing thing is that different spices and herbs are not just flavorful, but actually incredibly nutritious and healthful as well. Each spice has it’s own health benefits and properties to protect the body from free radicals and diseases.

Adding the fantastic flavor plus health, spices should be our regular cooking companions. Just think about the incredible turmeric, the first must have spice to put on your kitchen shelf. I already praised turmeric in my immunity shot recipe, healthy hot chocolate recipe or detox soup recipe, so I trust you already know I’m a huge fan. And you should be too.

There are so many other herbs that are so powerful that would be a shame not to use and take advantage of their benefits and flavor. Using more seasoning is also a smart way to cut down on salt.

TURMERIC

Obviously, I’m starting this list with my favorite spice of them all. Turmeric is one of the most studied spices in science and should be on your kitchen shelf for many reasons. Bright yellow colored turmeric powder is grounded dried root of the Curcuma longa plant, which is native to India and Southeast Asia and belongs to the ginger family.

The most important and active compound of turmeric is Curcumin, which has potent anti-inflammatory properties and is a strong antioxidant. Studies have shown turmeric to be even more beneficial than some conventional prescription drugs, without any associated risks or side effects that you get from drugs. This alone already makes it a superhero in my book.

turmeric healthy spices

Curcumin has very potent anti-inflammatory abilities, being able to fight inflammation on the molecular level. Inflammation is not always harmful. Especially acute inflammation is body’s way of defending against damaged cells, harmful bacteria, viruses and healing itself. But when inflammation becomes chronic and longterm, it becomes an underlying cause of many serious Western diseases, such as arthritis, Chron’s disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. That’s why it’s super important to lower the dietary toxins that promote inflammation in the body (saturated fats, overly processed foods, refined oils, meats, sugar..) and focus our nutrition around anti-inflammatory foods (veggies, fiber, nuts, whole grains, fruit, legumes..).

Curcumin also happens to be a very powerful antioxidant, that protects the body against free radicals and reduces damage caused by inflammation.

More turmeric health benefits:

  • improves brain function
  • lowers risk of heart disease
  • inhibits tumor growth
  • prevents and treats cancer (especially colon, breast, and prostate cancer)
  • stimulates the lymphatic system and detoxifies the body
  • treats depression and stress
  • has anti-aging properties
  • relieves symptoms of menstruation
  • manages gastrointestinal issues like constipation, IBS, irritation, hemorrhoids

An important thing to note is that curcumin is very poorly absorbed into the bloodstream that’s why it’s recommended to consume black pepper with it to enhance the absorption of curcumin. And also be sure to follow the recommended dose of turmeric, which is about 1/2 – 1 tsp per day.

Few examples of dishes I love seasoning with turmeric are soups, curries, rice and risottos, potatoes, stews, smoothies, hot chocolate, tea…anything and everything!

CINNAMON

Widely known and loved spice, commonly used in baking goods and sweets. I’m pretty sure many of you already use cinnamon daily, especially in meals involving apples or bananas. But did you know just how beneficial this delicious spice is for you? It’s pretty incredible, to say the least. Cinnamon is my go to, and I make sure to incorporate it into my meals every single day. Just to give you a very simple snack idea I’m obsessed with: cut up a yummy sweet apple, sprinkle it with cinnamon and dip the pieces into peanut butter! OMG, lovee!

I’ve read that cinnamon was once upon a time more valuable than gold! Say what?! This alone makes me want to dunk everything into this magic powder, but besides being so delicious, why is it so beneficial though?

cinnamon stick healthy spices

Cinnamon is packed with powerful antioxidants, which protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. It also has potent anti-inflammatory effects on the body to protect it from various diseases. Probably the most known benefit that cinnamon possesses is the ability to lower blood sugar levels and help treat type 2 diabetes. And it does this with several mechanisms. Cinnamon decreases the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a sugary meal by slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract. That’s why it’s so beneficial to sprinkle cinnamon on fruit or use it when baking desserts.

More cinnamon health benefits:

  • lowers the risk of heart disease
  • increases sensitivity to insulin
  • lowers bad cholesterol
  • helps fight bacteria and fungal infections
  • reduces the effects of aging of the brain
  • fights infections and viruses
  • has immune-boosting effects
  • treats dental problems and removes bad breath
  • helps prevent candida overgrowth
  • helps relieve allergy symptoms
  • has anti-carcinogenic properties

Cinnamon is very versatile in the kitchen, and I literally put it everywhere. For example, it works fantastic with fresh fruit, in tea or immune boosting tonics, in smoothies, on sweet potato, in oatmeal, in coffee, chocolate, and also savory dishes like curry and others.

CAYENNE PEPPER

Are you ready to heat things up? Eating spicy foods has more health benefits than you might realize. I particularly love the cayenne pepper to add some fire to my dishes. It is not just plain painful heat, but it also provides lots of flavor and health benefits.

cayenne peppers healthy spices

One of the significant benefits this pepper has is the ability to aid in digestion and boost metabolism. Cayenne also contains a compound called Capsaicin that has pain relieving properties by weakening the chemical that carries pain messages to the brain. Pretty amazing if you ask me. It is also an excellent source of vitamin A, which plays a vital role in maintaining healthy vision and is an antioxidant that reduces inflammation.

Other amazing cayenne pepper benefits:

  • stimulates circulation and detoxifies the body
  • helps prevent blood clots
  • boosts the immune system and fights cold & flu
  • prevents allergies
  • may reduce cancer risk
  • relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure
  • protects against ulcers

As far as using this spice goes, possibilities are endless really. You can use it to flavor pasta, sautéed veggies, sauces, roasted chickpeas, baked potatoes, soups, chilies detox drinks if feeling ballsy and so on…

GINGER

Another spice considered among the healthiest on the planet. I’m sure you’ve already tried a ginger tea or gingerbread cookies before or something. Ginger originates from China and it’s widely used in Asian cuisine. This is the most used spice in the world and has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy against nausea, flu, cold and digestion issues like diarrhea.

The main bioactive compound of ginger is called Gingerol, and he is the guy to thank for the mighty anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. One of the most known and historical uses of ginger is for treating and relieving nausea. It reduces morning sickness, nausea after surgeries or chemotherapy and motion sickness. And all of this without any side effects you might get with conventional medications.

ginger healthy spices

Another impressive benefit of ginger is its ability to prevent and treat menstrual pain just as effectively as medication. I encourage all of my beautiful fellow ladies reading this, make yourself some warm cup of ginger tea next time you’re at that time of the month.

Oh, and did you know that ginger is an aphrodisiac? I didn’t. Besides for its unique scent which is supposed to ”get you excited”, it also increases blood circulation to the mid-section of the body…you know what I mean.

Other incredible ginger benefits:

  • may inhibit cancer cells growth
  • reduces muscle pain after exercise
  • lowers cholesterol levels
  • supports healthy digestion
  • promotes sweating and eliminates toxins
  • treats cold and flu
  • significantly improves bone health and relieves joint pain
  • lowers blood sugar and improves heart health
  • fights against infections

Ginger is very versatile and can be used in any dish. You can sprinkle the powdered ginger into soups, curries, different sauces, put in into morning smoothie, or use fresh ginger root for Asian dishes, ginger tea, immunity shot and even in baking goods.

OREGANO

If your diet is based on Mediterranean meals or pizzas and pasta than you probably already have oregano sitting on your kitchen counter. Although many people use oregano to enhance the flavor of food, most of us don’t realize all the impressive health benefits it holds.

oregano healthy spices

Oregano is rich in antioxidants that can boost the immune system and protects the body from oxidative stress. It is also loaded with nutrients which detoxify the body, eliminate toxins and improve liver function! And if you are looking for omega-3 fatty acids, oregano has them, meaning it prevents heart attacks and promotes heart health in general.

Other oregano health benefits:

  • improves bone health
  • aids in digestion
  • fights of bacteria and had anti-viral properties
  • slows the progression of cancer
  • reduces bloating

I’m sure you already use and love oregano in your everyday cooking. Some dishes that go well with oregano are pasta sauces, pizza, bread, vegetables, salads and so on. I recommend you to start with a small amount as this thing is very strong especially if using dried oregano, and add it towards the end of cooking.

PARSLEY

Look at this, another widely used herb most of us have in the garden that has some surprising and wonderful healing properties. Other than being an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, iron and other nutrients it is also rich in disease-fighting antioxidants! Parsley has been used as a diuretic for centuries now, providing relief from bloating and relieving water retention in the body. Parsley also improves digestion and helps with gastrointestinal disorders, such as constipation.

oregano healthy spices

Other health benefits of parsley:

  • reduces internal inflammation
  • helps to maintain bone health and treat osteoporosis
  • boosts the immune system
  • fights again kidney and gallbladder stones
  • helps to prevent cancer
  • prevents bad breath
  • helps to balance hormones

Parsley is often used raw as a garnish for many dishes such as risotto, soups, pasta, potatoes and others. Possibilities are endless regarding the use of parsley! It goes well with everything, like different spreads, dips, soups, and stews or in green smoothies and juices.

CUMIN

I’ve started using cumin only recently when I fell in love with curries. Cumin originated in Egypt and is popularly used in the Middle East cooking. I love this spice! It adds such a different character to the dish, not only to curries but also other dishes with vegetables. Besides being delicious, it is also very rich in essential nutrients and vitamins and offers many benefits.

cumin healthy spices

Cumin has been used in India as a natural remedy for digestion issues for years. It has compounds that stimulate and speed up digestion, it acts as a natural laxative and is very beneficial for treating hemorrhoids and relieving its symptoms. Cumin is also very rich in iron, which is one of the most common nutrients people are deficient in and is especially important for anemic people, pregnant and lactating women and during menstruation. Some studies have also shown that cumin may prevent diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels.

Other surprising cumin health benefits:

  • relieves stress and anxiety and treats insomnia
  • improves blood cholesterol levels
  • reduces the risk of food poisoning
  • may reduce drug withdrawal symptoms
  • treats respiratory disorders like asthma and bronchitis
  • fights viral infections
  • prevents anemia
  • improves blood circulation
  • boosts the immune system
  • helps prevent colon cancer

Do you use cumin in your cooking? It is traditionally used in Indian cuisine, so if you haven’t already maybe start with my recipe for coconut chickpea curry which is completely vegan, flavorful and full of wholesome ingredients! Cumin also works deliciously in avocado dips, chilies, stews, and soups or roasted vegetables.

Woooah! If you’ve read this long a** post to the end you are a real friend and I truly appreciate your support and time (sending you much love).

I hope you’ve learned something new like I did writing this longest post in the world. And I hope it gave you some inspiration to try new dishes and experiment with these spices next time you whip something delicious in the kitchen. Good luck!

PS: Make sure you share this with your culinary friends who may be interested in these interesting spicy findings. 

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