Spice of Life: 10 Healthy Herbs and Spices

The adage “variety is the spice of life” certainly applies to Earth’s plethora of herbs and spices that offer so many wonderful flavors. But did you know herbs and spices are nutrient-dense superfoods with long-term health benefits?

Nutritive herbs are rich in vitamins and minerals. Many also provide alkaline minerals that counter the effects of excess acid in the body from eating too many acidic foods. Excess acidity can cause the body to draw minerals from the tissues and bones (to balance blood alkalinity), which can lead to arthritis, acne, migraines, and osteoporosis. You can explore the nutrient value and health benefits of herbs and spices in-depth by using the searchable database at NutritionAndYou.com. Check out 10 of the healthiest examples:

 

  1. Alfalfa

Alfalfa is a nutritive herb that helps assimilate proteins, carbs, and minerals; aids digestion; and regulates the stomach’s pH level, helping to heal stomach ulcers or other stomach conditions.

High in: chlorophyll, fiber, protein; calcium, magnesium; vitamins A, B, C

 

  1. Basil

Basil is revered as the “holy herb” in many cultures. The essential oil eugenol is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Zeaxanthin, a flavonoid carotenoid compound, filters harmful UV rays from reaching the eye’s retina.

High in: potassium; copper, iron, manganese; vitamins A and K

 

  1. Cinnamon

This fragrant spice from the bark of an evergreen tree is super healthy, imparting antidiabetic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antiflatulent, and local-anesthetic properties — and the highest antioxidant strength of all plant-sourced foods!

High in: fiber; carotenes, zeaxanthin; calcium, iron, magnesium; vitamin E

 

  1. Cloves

These flower buds of a rainforest tree, native to the “spice islands” (Indonesia), contain antibacterial and antifungal properties; help the body use insulin efficiently; and aid digestion. Clove oil is an analgesic for dentistry.

High in: beta-carotene; copper, iron, magnesium, zinc; vitamins B6, C, K

 

  1. Cumin

An aromatic seed popular in Middle Eastern and Mexican cuisine, cumin’s phytochemicals offer antioxidant, carminative, and antiflatulent properties, the latter aiding digestion by boosting gastrointestinal enzyme secretions.

High in: fiber; carotenes; calcium, iron, manganese; vitamins A, B6, E

  1. Ginger

This spicy root herb plays an important medicinal role, thanks to its essential oil gingerol that provides powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects especially helpful for arthritis, soothing the nerves, and decreasing nausea.

High in: potassium; copper, magnesium, manganese; vitamins B5 and B6

 

  1. Oregano

Oregano is a strong antioxidant, antifungal, and antibiotic. The essential oil thymol makes it an antiseptic, antispasmodic, expectorant, and stimulant. Drink as a tea to treat colds and flu.

High in: fiber; beta-carotene; potassium; calcium, iron; vitamins A, C, E, K

 

  1. Parsley

The essential oil eugenol reduces blood-sugar and cholesterol levels, and provides a local anesthetic and antiseptic for teeth and gums. Parsley delivers a mind-blowing level of vitamin K — 1,366% of the recommended daily intake!

High in: beta-carotene, zeaxanthin; calcium, iron; vitamins A, B, C, K

 

  1. Thyme

Grow thyme in your garden as it has one of the highest antioxidant and mineral levels among herbs. Sipping thyme tea helps relieve coughs, sore throat, and bronchitis symptoms.

High in: beta-carotene; potassium; calcium, iron, manganese; vitamins A and C

 

  1. Turmeric

Curcumin is the deep-orange pigment of this root herb and also provides its antioxidant effects. Turmeric protects against anemia, cancers, infectious diseases, and hypertension. High fiber controls “bad cholesterol” levels.

High in: carbs, fiber; potassium; copper, iron, manganese; vitamins B6 and C

 

Veestro meals enlivened with some of the above herbs and spices include:

Ahimi Poke Bowl (ginger), Adzuki Spaguetti w/Veggie Balls (cumin), Beluga Lentil Braise (cinnamon, turmeric) and, just in time for the holidays, Herb Crusted Turk’y Dinner (thyme).

 

Sources:

Christa Sinadinos, “Nutrient Dense Herbs,” Starwest Botanicals

Umesh Rudrappa, NutritionAndYou.com (a searchable nutrition database)

 

 

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