9 Health Boosting Herbs and SpicesWritten by Tigre Haller Boosting your immunity and overall health can be as easy as eating nutritious foods and introducing common herbs and spices to your daily health routine and diet. It doesn't require an entire overhaul or lifestyle change. It just takes a dash of curiosity and a pinch of planning for you to be on your way to start benefiting from these powerhouses - some of which you might already have on hand.
Let’s get started on this flavorful journey…
Also known as curcuma, turmeric is what gives curry its yellow-orange color. This spice has been used for centuries in Indian cooking and Ayurvedic medicine. Loaded with curcuminoids, turmeric is used to ease inflammation, calm general aches and pains, sooth skin condition, inhibit fungal growth and ease digestive issues. It can also help to alleviate symptoms of depression.
Since curcumins don’t get absorbed into our bloodstreams easily, when using turmeric as a spice in food and drinks, you should try to combine it with black pepper as the piperine helps to absorb it.
The most effective way to get the maximum benefits of turmeric is to take it as a supplement or an extract.
We continue with a spice you might be more familiar with: ginger. This root is an important ingredient in many different types of cuisine and sweet and savory dishes. Aside from being highly versatile, ginger adds a healthy boost to your diet.
Thanks to the compound gingerol, this versatile spice reduces nausea, aids with digestion, wards off colds, reduces inflammation, helps to reduce blood sugar level, eases muscular pain, improves brain function and fights the formation of blood clots.
Use the actual ginger root for the maximum benefits. Add some to stir fries, curies, stews, sauces. Or, make ginger root tea or add it to a smoothie.
A native of India and Nepal, moringa has long been used for its healing and health boosting properties - similar to green tea. A great source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, E, B6, potassium, calcium and iron, moringa can help with a host of issues. Actually, one cup of chopped leaves has more concentrated vitamin C than oranges.
This amazing plant helps improve vision, fortify bone health, boost testosterone, protect your liver, reduce inflammation, increase brain health, calm nausea, facilitate cancer treatment, lower blood sugar and calm your nerves.
Moringa powder can be added to soups, stews, batter for breads and cakes. It can also be mixed with hot water for tea as can the leaves. If the earthy flavor isn’t to your liking, then you can take moringa supplements or extract.
Back in ancient times garlic was traditionally used for medicinal purposes, before it ever made its way onto a plate. Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) actually prescribed garlic to treat all different types of ailments.
Rich in manganese, copper, potassium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium and fiber, garlic is particularly effective for combating colds, reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, increasing antioxidant levels and improving heart conditions.
Although technically a vegetable as it is part of the onion family, garlic is usually used as an herb or a spice. Whatever way you slice it garlic is versatile and can be baked, sautéed, stewed, poached and blanched. Add it to sauces, stews, soups and other savory dishes.
If you don’t care for the taste, or the garlic breath that can follow, garlic supplements will get you the benefits you need.
Originally from the Mediterranean but now grown in other parts of the world, rosemary is a beautifully aromatic herb rich in antioxidants, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B-6 and vitamin A. Used for medicinal purposes for centuries, rosemary has been proven to relieve stress, calm anxiety, increase alertness, help with inflammation, prevent baldness, promote good digestion, protect the skin and heal some infections.
Concentrated rosemary essential oil can be inhaled or applied topically, however it’s best not to ingest it in large amounts as it can lead to potentially serious side effects.
You can use fresh or dried rosemary leaves in many dishes, breads and cookies, or to make a soothing tea.
There are up to 20 species of mint such as spearmint and peppermint, all of which smell and taste great. They also have been used over the centuries for their medicinal properties.
Mint has been shown to ease irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other gastrointestinal upsets, it also helps to ease symptoms of the common cold, ease headaches, enhance memory, calm stress, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.
Use fresh mint leaves in your savory and sweet recipes or to blend with hot water to make a delicious infusion (my favorite).
Enjoyed since ancient times the spicy and delightful cayenne pepper adds a fantastic zing to your plate and a healthy boost to your life.
The capsaicin in cayenne has been shown to lower blood pressure, boost immunity, help with digestion, reduce the risk of cancer, stem hunger, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, lessen the effects of rhinitis and slow the aging process.
You can add cayenne pepper in its original state to soups and sauces, or use a pepper sauce instead of other condiments, sprinkle powdered cayenne on popcorn, salads, in cakes, fish fry batters and other recipes.
Cinnamon isn’t just great for spicing up apple cider and sweet potato pie, it’s health boosting benefits have been recognized for centuries. The cinnamaldehyde in the cinnamon bark packs a powerful bunch of antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon can also reduce the risk of heart disease, manage insulin resistance, fight diabetes, lower blood sugar, protect neurons, fight neurodegenerative diseases and combat bacterial infections.
To get the maximum benefits be sure to use Ceylon cinnamon, which some people call “true” cinnamon. The Cassia variety contains a compound called coumarin, which can be harmful when taken in large amounts. However, any cinnamon is better than none.
Enjoy powdered cinnamon in your sweet and savory dishes and drinks. The cinnamon stick can also be used to add flavor. Cinnamon oil can be used topically or in aromatherapy.
High in vitamin K, zinc, copper and magnesium, and in lesser amounts vitamin A, vitamin C, sage is a delicious herb to include in your diet. Consuming sage can result in lower “bad” cholesterol, improve oral health, ease symptoms of menopause, combat asthma and help improve circulation.
Drink it, sprinkle it, gargle it, add it to soups and sauces, breathe in the essence from a sage oil and you will feel the benefits.
These are just some of the many herbs and spices that contain health boosting properties. Please leave a message below to tell me which ones you plan on introducing to your diet or self-care routine.
NOTE: This article is intended for information purposes only and is not meant to replace any medications or medical advice. Consult your doctor before taking any supplements.