Did you know that herbs can really boost your health?
We probably know that foods provide us with nutrients, but what about herbs and spices? Could something that is used to season your food or beverage serve a purpose as strong as fighting inflammation or boosting your immune system?
Yes, they most certainly CAN!
Fall is in full swing, which is often a time that people tend to get sick and consume more sugar than normal due to things like the weather changing and multiple holidays and parties. All of this together may for some of us lower immune system function and can contribute to inflammation in the body (so, this means all the more reason to load up on all the delicious herbs & spices this time of the year!).
By the way, have you ever wondered if there is a difference between herbs and spices?
While they are both used to flavor food and offer a variety of health benefits, they do have some distinct differences.
Herbs come from the leaves of plants, with examples being things like basil, sage, and parsley.
Spices come from every other part of the plant including the root, flower, fruit, seed, and bark. Spices typically have a more potent flavor than herbs and examples include things like cumin, cloves, turmeric, pepper, and nutmeg.
Here are 8 of our favorite healthy herbs & spices to be sure to include in your kitchen this Fall:
- Cinnamon– We love cinnamon! Did you know that this delicious spice can help (research here) to help support healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels. I personally love to add cinnamon to my coffee, tea, oats, smoothies, and baked goods. I also love it on pancakes, like in THIS RECIPE!
- Turmeric– This spice had been all the range for a few years now, and for good reason. The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin, and it displays strong anti-inflammatory properties as well as serves as a powerful antioxidant. Consuming black pepper along with turmeric has been shown to increase the bioavailability (how well its able to be used in the body) by nearly 2000%. Turmeric has been studied in its protective roles against conditions such as arthritis, high cholesterol, anxiety, depression, and exercise recovery. Try adding turmeric to curry dishes, soups and stir-fry’s. Or try making a turmeric latte by adding about 1/2 teaspoon plus a dash of black pepper to a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk for a healthier alternative to traditional lattes. We also love THIS turmeric oatmeal recipe.
- Ginger-Likely most commonly known for its role in easing nausea or motion sickness, ginger poses many incredible health benefits. It helps protect against oxidative stress, and provides powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cancer-fighting properties. Ginger pairs well with many Asian foods, and can also be added to smoothies, stews, vegetables, and marinades for meat, fish, and poultry.
- Oregano-This herb serves as a natural antimicrobial and contains compounds that have potent antibiotic properties. Oregano is rich in antioxidants, which can help neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation. Oregano oil or extract is commonly used by natural medicine experts as a remedy for colds and other bacterial illnesses, and fresh or dried oregano pairs well with sauces, pastas, and meat or poultry meals. We love to put dried oregano on top of THIS simple carrot soup.
- Rosemary- Oh how I love rosemary roasted potatoes, you too? Rosemary is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds (research here!). Rosemary is great with earthy root veggies in cooking, you can try adding some rosemary to a seasonal cocktail, or throw about 1-2 tbsp fresh, chopped rosemary into a roasted veggie dish.
- Coriander- You may or may not know this one, but it’s a power house, and want to know something cooler? The seeds are called coriander, and the leaves of this plant are cilantro (you all know that one!). Coriander has many possible benefits for health- including blood sugar (may help to lower sugar by increasing enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase activity- research HERE, heart health, reduce inflammation targeted to various types of cancer – research HERE, and more). Use coriander in soups, in curries, and in sauces!
- Chives- Another herb we love! This powerful herb contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two key carotenoids for eye health (may reduce Age Related Macular Degeneration progression- cataracts too). Chives are also a source of vitamin C- great for boosting skin collagen production (who doesn’t want to look young!). Use these raw to maintain vitamin C content – on a salad, on a roasted veggie dish.
- Sage- Last but certainly NOT least, sage is a super seasonal herb. It’s great in soups stews, and other casserole dishes. Sage is also great for natural cleansing (hello Palo Santo!) – in fact I used it to “smudge” my apartment when I moved in. Sage is also a powerhouse of powerful nutrients like chlorogenic acid, rosmarinic acid, ellagic acid and rutin- all that appear to have anti-cancer properties (research HERE). Sage may also help normalize hormone levels, benefit oral health, amongst MANY other things. Use sage in your favorite chili (here’s mine!), meatball recipe, and anything else you can think of (really)
A few extras!
- Garlic-Garlic exhibits both antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and may help prevent or treat illnesses related to bacterial, fungus, viruses and other “germs”, thereby boosting the immune system. Garlic adds amazing flavor to just about any dish. Try sauteing vegetables, meat, fish, or poultry with minced garlic and use fresh or powdered garlic in soups & sauces. Basically, we put garlic on top of EVERYTHING.
- Echinacea-This herb is commonly used to help treat the common cold, and has been used for centuries by indigenous cultures. It has been shown to shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms, and is often consumed in a tea or supplement form rather than used in cooking.
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