Spice Up Your Diet and Do Your Body Good

Though spices and herbs are often spoken of as one-in-the-same, they’re not. Spices are aromatic seasonings from the bark, buds, roots, seeds, berries or fruit of various plants and trees. Common spices include cinnamon, which comes from bark; cloves from buds; ginger from a root; cumin from seeds; black peppercorns from berries; and paprika from the fruit of a plant. Herbs, however, only come from the leaf of a plant. Familiar herbs include basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage and chives.

Spices and herbs:

– Contribute to lowering sodium intake when used to flavor food in place of salt.
– Offer protective antioxidant benefits by destroying free radicals that can cause cell damage. Spices and herbs carry even higher antioxidant content than fruits and vegetables.

The benefits of combining multiple spices and herbs are often greater than the benefit of a single one. Herbs and spices added to salad dressing increase the antioxidant content of a vegetable or fruit salad. When finding ways to add herbs and spices to your diet, using fresh is best, but dried herbs and spices may be more convenient.

Fresh herbs have higher antioxidant levels than the dried versions. Fresh garlic, for example, has one and a half times more antioxidants than garlic powder. Replace dried herbs and spices in your kitchen each year to maximize their flavor and health benefits.

Not only will your cuisine taste good when flavored with spices and herbs, it will be good for you. Though the research is still inconclusive in terms of which and how much of a specific herb or spice to include in your diet, be adventurous and try new seasonings.

Here are some herbs and spices to include in your diet:

– Curry powder is a golden yellow spice currently gaining a lot of favor. Perk up steamed rice with a sprinkle of curry powder along with nuts and chopped fresh or dried fruit also considered superfoods.

– Rosemary added to meat marinades may block heterocyclic amine or dangerous carcinogens from forming during cooking. The aroma of rosemary has also been linked to improvement of mood and pain management. Add rosemary to sauteed vegetables or sprinkle over baked bread brushed with olive oil.

– Cinnamon stirred into oatmeal, sprinkled on toast or over coffee, or mixed into a streusel topping for a fruit crisp.

– Capsaicin in cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes and paprika may be helpful to those looking for a metabolism boost for weight loss. The spicy red peppers in prepared foods may make them less tempting to those prone to overeating and contribute to feelings of satiety. When creating your own spiced dry rub for grilled meats include cayenne or paprika. Sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes to your favorite stir fry combination, but use caution in how much you add for maximum enjoyment.

Thank you to Amy Gabrielson for this great resource! Share her newsletter here.