Dinner Diva: The Healthiest Herbs and Spices

I am all about the herbs and spices! Most people don’t realize how many health benefits those simple little jars in our pantries contain inside. As I mentioned in the article I published a while back, we are eating nutritionally deficient foods, so we might as well boost our intake of vitamins and nutrients however we can. I say, start with the herbs and spices and give your foods more flavor and more nutrition at the same time!

Here’s a little breakdown of some of the health benefits some common herbs and spices have to offer.

Anise. Anise seeds taste like black licorice and they have lots of surprising health benefits. Anise seeds can increase milk flow in nursing moms, give your sex drive a little pick me up and even calm an upset stomach or stop a runny nose! Anise contains calcium and fiber as well as a high amount of iron. Use it in a homemade chai tea or tomato sauce!

Cinnamon. This familiar spice is a great source of fiber, can reduce cholesterol levels, and lower blood sugar levels. Sprinkle cinnamon in your curries and stews. You might not think about savory dishes when you think of cinnamon, but it tastes fantastic in almost everything.

Cilantro. I’ve written about cilantro before. The plant of the coriander seed, cilantro can aid in blood clotting, increase bone strength and it is high in Vitamin K.

Cumin. Cumin has strong germ-fighting properties and can also keep blood sugar levels healthy. Cumin is rich in iron, calcium, and magnesium, and may also prevent stomach ulcers.

Basil. Basil aids in relieving respiratory infections and can reduce pain and swelling within the body.

Nutmeg. Containing a good amount of fiber, nutmeg is a very healthy addition to your diet. It is a helpful presence in the body, fighting off bad bacteria, and it has anti-inflammatory properties as well.

Mint. If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, add some peppermint oil to your diet for relief.

Fennel. With a flavor similar to anise, fennel aids in gas, bloating, and other digestive upset. It can help reduce heartburn, too.

Saffron. If you suffer from PMS symptoms, add some saffron to your soups and stews. This magical (and rather expensive) spice can help ease those symptoms, and it can also help with mild to moderate depression. Rumor has it saffron is also a (wink wink, nudge nudge) aphrodisiac.

Oregano. Synonymous with pasta, oregano is an antibacterial and antifungal herb that can help fight food-borne illnesses and can assist with antibiotic-resistant infections.

Rosemary. Full of antioxidants, rosemary is a great fighter of inflammation. It can also boost your memory, believe it or not.

Thyme. This tasty herb can prevent signs of aging. It can also help boost your overall health, prevent cell damage and it’s chock full of antioxidants.

Turmeric. What is curry without turmeric? Not much! But more than a color and flavor enhancer, turmeric is used to treat liver disease, depression, and even heartburn!

Wow! Who woulda thunk it?

Now, just because I love y’all so much, here are some general tips for making the most of your herbs and spices:

• Before adding dried herbs to your food, crush the leaves between your fingers to release the flavor
• Watch the expiration dates on the jars
• When it comes to swapping back and forth between dried and fresh herbs in your recipes, remember the ratio of 1:3. If your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, use 1 teaspoon dried.
• Long, slow cooking can destroy the nutritional value of herbs. Add your dry herbs to slow-cooked dishes towards the end of the cooking process.

What one herb or spice would you bring with you to a desert island? Let us know on our Facebook page!

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