Culinary Consciousness

Herbs and Spices
Dr. Bri Vick, ND
The Health Benefits of Cooking with Herbs

Why you should use herbs in your meals!
(Salt and pepper aren't enough.)

The truth is, herbs and spices possess so many healthful qualities and add so much delightful flavor to your cooking — why wouldn’t you want to add them to your food?

Check out my list below, and try experimenting with just one or two new spices each week.

How herbs can improve your overall health?

Besides adding a burst of fresh flavor to your dishes, herbs and spices can sure pack a punch when it comes to health benefits.

Fresh, organic herbs are always my first choice, but even when those aren’t an option, adding dried herbs to your cuisine can still provide a host of benefits. 

Here’s a peek at the bonus features to some of my favorite flavorful herbs and spices: 

  • Cayenne Pepper – This spicy chili pepper can reduce your appetite, boost your metabolism, and enhance your body’s fat-burning capabilities. Some studies suggest that the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, called capsaicin, even combats certain forms of cancer. Its antioxidants fight free radicals, improve cholesterol, and lower risk of heart and liver disease. 
  • Cilantro – This herb adds a real fresh flavor to many dishes and sauces such as tacos, curry and salsa.  It contains many antioxidants and vitamins and a flavonoid called quercetin.  Cilantro can be helpful in lowering heavy metal levels.
  • Cinnamon – Cassia Cinnamon is the more commonly available cinnamon.  Ceylon Cinnamon, sometimes called “real cinnamon,” has a slightly milder flavor than Cassia Cinnamon and is not as commonly available.  Both varieties can be helpful for flavoring a dish and improving your health.  Cinnamon contains potent antioxidants and helps lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, as well as fight inflammation. Bonus: It may have a beneficial effect on lowering blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity!
  • Dill – This herb is most effective in its raw form. Medicinally, dill can be used to treat kidney, stomach, liver, and gallbladder diseases. It is soothing for stomach upset, and its flavonoids provide antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits for the digestive and immune systems. It also fights free radicals and acts as a strong antioxidant.
  • Garlic – Add some of this delicious herb to your food to combat cold and flu, improve heart health, reduce cholesterol, and help prevent cancer.  For aiding in infectious disease it is best if garlic is raw.  Cooking garlic reduces some of the beneficial antimicrobial substances however the benefits for heart health remain.
  • Ginger – Only one gram of ginger is extremely effective at treating nausea (including sea sickness, morning sickness, and nausea from chemotherapy). It possesses anti-inflammatory properties, can promote digestion and circulation. 
  • Holy Basil – This Indian herb, though less commonly used in cuisine compared to the sweet basil, is packed with health benefits.  It can inhibit yeast, mold, and bacterial growth. It helps reduce blood sugar levels, and may boost immune function.
  • Rosemary – This Mediterranean wonderful smelling herb goes well on salmon, meats, and potatoes.  Rosemary is known to boost alertness, memory, and focus. 
  • Turmeric – This beautiful yellow spice contains curcumin, a strong anti-inflammatory and extremely powerful antioxidant. It has been shown to improve brain function, relieve arthritis, reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, and even fight Alzheimer’s disease. 

Find a good recipe to try at home. 

Between Pinterest, Google, and social media forums like Facebook and Instagram, you’ll have no difficulty finding a simple, delicious way to use any of these herbs and spices. Remember, your recipes don’t need to be complicated to be delicious. Whether you’re shredding fresh garlic onto your sushi, boosting a homemade chili recipe by adding cinnamon, or sprinkling some fresh dill onto a hard-boiled egg, you can take your tastebuds to the moon—and boost your quality of health at the same time. 

What are some of your favorite herbs, and spices — and how do you use them?

 

Rembember: Build Health. Live Well. 

 

June 15, 2022

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