Are spices good for you? Healthy herbs and healthy seasonings may be small in size but they are big in flavor. Plus, the health benefits of herbs and the benefits of spices are significant.
Read on to discover the powerful potential of healthy spices, herbs, and seasonings.
Is Seasoning Healthy for You?
While too much of anything can be unhealthy for you, healthy seasonings carry little risk of overload. Too much salt can be a problem because it contributes to high blood pressure. Small amounts of salt-free seasonings or seasoning blends add a lot of flavor.
Spices lend powerful health properties to culinary creations, along with the following benefits:
• Improved flavor
• Enhanced aroma
• Intensified color
Benefits of Healthy Spices & Herbs
Health benefits of seasonings depend on the unique properties of that specific spice or herb. The following health benefits are commonly noted with scientists take a closer look at seasonings:
1. Protection from acute disease
2. Protection from chronic disease such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes
3. Treatment for chronic conditions
4. Antioxidant properties
5. Anti-inflammatory properties to reduce inflammation
6. Lower blood sugar levels and blood cholesterol
Healthy Herbs and Spices
Many healthy herbs and spices add flavor and spice to food. Most popular spices have been used since ancient dates and have even been studied for medicinal purposes.
However, there are some spices that stand out among the rest! These seasonings have traditional uses ranging from medicine to the kitchen.
Very versatile, cinnamon makes sweet or savory dishes even better. It is also a seasoning linked to multiple health benefits. This spice is associated with treatments for the following:
• Weight loss
• Muscle spasms
• The common cold
• Vomiting and diarrhea
• Loss of appetite
• Lowering of blood pressure in people with type 1 and 2 diabetes
Cilantro and coriander are essentially the same. The fresh form of cilantro offers powerful antioxidants that may reduce the risk of cell damage and chronic disease.
Cilantro is a staple in Mexican dishes and is added as a garnish to many meals.
Added to cuisines in either whole or ground form, cumin has a lovely nutty flavor. Beyond that, it is linked to good digestion and alleviating an upset stomach. It can also aid in respiratory disorders and help people with insomnia.
Ginger comes in many forms:
• Root (stem)
Traditionally used in Chinese cuisine as a palate cleanser, ginger is sometimes used to flavor chewing gum. Recommended often as a natural remedy or in herbal tea for pregnant women, it is said to ease nausea. It also claims digestive aid, alleviates muscle pain, and has anti-inflammatory effects.
Mint is an herb used for so much more than flavoring chocolate chip ice cream. It is added to toothpaste and dental hygiene products for a fresh-feeling aftertaste. Its pleasant flavor adds a breath of fresh air to dishes and teas.
Beyond being used in food and dental hygiene, mint also alleviates the following:
• Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Mint is also thought to improve memory and cognition.
Many people know oregano for its role in Latin American or Mediterranean dishes. It flavors sauces, dressings, salads, and poultry with a fresh flair.
However, oregano is also known for alleviating menstrual cramps and having antioxidant properties that support the immune system.
Fresh or Dried?
Both dried and fresh forms of herbs or spices contain healthy compounds. Often, fried or grilled food loses antioxidants. Microwaving, simmering, or stewing can heighten the antioxidant properties.
Healthy Spices List
In addition to the spices listed above, there are several seasonings that people may not think of. The following healthy spices can be used in unique and innovative ways to improve health and make dishes more delicious.
Not a fan of the bulb? Try this spice in its powdered form, which can be sprinkled from a shaker similar to salt. Pair it with olive oil and black pepper for even more flavor.
Some avoid garlic for its effects on the breath, but the benefits to health are many. Garlic improves heart health by keeping blood vessels flexible. It is a key ingredient in Mediterranean dishes and adds a savory hint to healthy preparations.
Nutritional yeast is a rising star in the spice world. It is high in B vitamins, which many vegans and vegetarians may be deficient in.
Nutritional yeast is a great substitute for those eating dairy-free dishes, adding a cheesy yet nutty flavor to each bite. It is also incredibly versatile in the ways it can be used. Sprinkle it on top of pasta, popcorn, potatoes, and beyond!
Red Chili Pepper Flakes
Not just for pizza, red pepper flakes are great on pastas, salads, vegetables, and even more. Health benefits of pepper flakes include possible prevention of the spread of prostate cancer, improved immune system health, and clearing of congestion.
Until recently, turmeric was an often overlooked spice. Practitioners of Chinese medicine have been using it to treat infections, illness, and inflammation for centuries.
The bright yellow and orange color of this spice adds a unique and potent potential to many Eastern cuisine dishes and drinks.
How To Make Healthy Seasoning Blend
Homemade seasoning blends and spice mixes should belong in every kitchen. Adding salt-free flavor and health benefits, what is not to love?
Homemade spice mix ideas that make quick and convenient pantry staples include:
• Italian seasoning
• Curry powder
• Gingerbread spice
• Chai spice
• Chili seasoning
• Cajun seasoning
• Pumpkin pie spice
• Taco seasoning
In Summary On Spices
Beyond being a concentrated source of antioxidants and other healing properties, seasonings add unique flair and flavor to food. Small amounts can have a big impact.
Substances found in common spices and herbs can protect the body from disease and damage. They can easily replace table salt and make food taste good without unwanted ingredients!
Jiang TA. Health Benefits of Culinary Herbs and Spices. J AOAC Int. 2019;102(2):395-411. doi:10.5740/jaoacint.18-0418
Vizthum D. 5 Spices with Healthy Benefits. Hopkinsmedicine.org. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-spices-with-healthy-benefits.