We all know that without our favorite herbs and spices, dishes like guacamole, meatballs, and casseroles wouldn’t taste half as good. But did you know that science found that herbs and spices also provide a wide range of health benefits? From treating infections to preventing cancer, there’s so much you can get from ingredients found in your kitchen cupboard. In case you were wondering which spices provide what health benefits, here are 11 examples you can include for a long and healthy life.
Parsley is one of the most widely used herbs today that is native to the Mediterranean region. The versatile herb is used by diabetics in Turkey to reduce blood sugar levels. To see if this practice has any basis in reality, researchers conducted a study on rats to see how parsley affected their blood sugar and liver functioning. The study in question was published in Phytotherapy Research and found that diabetic rats given parsley showed significant improvement in their blood glucose levels. The study also found improvements in liver health in rats fed parsley suggesting that the traditional use of this herb was legitimate.
Turmeric is a golden spice with a long history of medical uses dating as far back as 4000 years ago. The plant has gained a lot of attention in the scientific community because the spice proved to fight a wide range of disease in clinical trials. Some of these health benefits include protection against cancer, cardiovascular disease, some types of arthritis, and diabetes. Turmeric was also found to especially benefit digestive health reducing the severity of symptoms in ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and many other inflammatory conditions. These benefits mostly come from curcumin, the yellow pigment found in turmeric.
Ginger has a spicy aroma and a peppery taste. Studies on this herb found that plant compounds in ginger work as powerful anti-inflammatories making ginger a great natural alternative to painkillers. Other than that, adding ginger to your stir fries or drinking it as tea can help with stomach problems. Ginger was found to relieve treat nausea, heartburn, flatulence, diarrhea, and to boost poor appetite.
You’ve probably heard of sage tea being a great remedy for a sore throat. The bitter-tasting herb is a powerful antiseptic explaining this well-known benefit. But studies also show that Sage can help with many other conditions as well. A study published in Advances in Therapy found that sage helps with one of the most common symptoms of menopause – hot flashes. According to this study, sage eliminated hot flashes completely by the end of the 8-week trial.
- Chili powder
Although chili powder is added in tiny amounts in most dishes, the spice is still able to have a strong effect on your health and metabolism. Chili powder is mostly recognized as a great weight-loss aid. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that chili lowers post-meal blood glucose levels and insulin release. Chili is also believed to function as a powerful appetite suppressant and metabolism enhancer making it a perfect choice for those struggling with excess weight.
According to an article published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, garlic can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, fight infections, prevent cancer, and lower blood sugar. The bulbous plant known for its strong aroma was traditionally used to fight parasitic infections but today it is a popular candida remedy while some also say that eating it during the cold season prevents colds.
Cinnamon is the wonderfully aromatic spice that is popularly used in dessert making. The spice is rich in volatile oils and antioxidant compounds some of which are believed to protect against diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and cancer. As with most herbs and spices, the health-protecting benefits of cinnamon come mostly from the spice’s antioxidants. What makes cinnamon unique among the spices, however, is that it was found to even fight against neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
- Black pepper
There was a time when pepper was as expensive as gold. Luckily, those times are over and now everyone gets to enjoy the many health-promoting benefits of pepper. The main active ingredient in black pepper called piperine was found to help scavenge free radicals and thus protect against tumor progression. Other than that, pepper was found to enhance cognitive functioning, absorption of other nutrients, and improve digestion.
The root and leaves of celery can both be eaten, and both help treats various diseases. An article published in Progress in Drug Research claims that celery reduces symptoms of arthritis, stomach ulcers and that it reduces microbe activity. Munching on a celery stalk could give you the same benefits as the stalk also contains the many antioxidants and phytochemicals found in other parts of this plant.
Cloves are often added to winter desserts and mulled wine. The aromatic spice is also an integral part of Moroccan cuisine. According to an entry in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, the antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of cloves is much higher than in most fruits, vegetables, and other spices making this spice one of the most potent natural remedies out there.
If you suffer from frequent stomach problems, then adding cumin to your meals may help. However, be careful as the volatile oils in cumin seeds tend to exert a strong aroma which can completely take over your dishes. Cumin seeds were found to help with irritable bowel syndrome while cumin powder helps lower blood lipids.
The wide array of herbs and spices we have available today were also found to be beneficial for overall health. Most of them contain a range of plant compounds and antioxidants that scavenge free radicals or reduce inflammation. Some of them were even found to exert strong antimicrobial activity. Adding these spices to your meals or using them in treatment preparations can help you deal with a host of diseases.