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10 Cooking Herbs and Spices That Aid in Digestion

Updated on February 18, 2013

Cardamom Pods

Cooking Herbs and Spices to Aid Digestion

Many of the common herbs and spices we regularly use for cooking are beneficial for digestion. Digestion is extremely important because it makes many of our organs work together to absorb, break down and process the many nutrients in our foods.

Healthy digestion is important - because without it malnutrition can occur. Additionally, toxins can build up in our body which, in turn, can speed the aging process and play a role in causing degenerative diseases.

Symptoms of poor digestion include - bloating, gas/flatulence, diarrhea, constipation and fatigue.

There are many spices and herbs that are known to be beneficial aids for digestion - these include all of the following:

anise - popular in Indian cuisine as well as in Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Persian and Pakistani cooking. It is added to pies, jams, jellies, and other baked goods such as muffins, cookies, and sweet bread. Other uses include adding a dash to soups, stews and curries. Anise is also believed to be beneficial in preventing epileptic seizures.

basil - very popular in American and Italian cooking. The round pointed leaves are used for seasoning and as the main ingredient in pesto (along with pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese). Basil has flavonoids (which provide protection at the cellular level), anti-bacterial properties that inhibit several species of pathogenic bacteria - which have been shown to be resistant to commonly used antibiotics.

bay leaf - sometimes referred to as bay herb, it is a staple in French and Mediterranean cooking. Should be added to a dish early because it takes time for the flavor to fully penetrate the goods. I always use it to make soup. Bay leaves are also beneficial in treating migraines and diabetes.

cardamom - is sold as pods (see photo), seeds, and can be whole or in powder form. It is used to intensify both sweet and savory flavors and is commonly used in curries and Indian dishes, including desserts. In addition to being an aid to digestion, cardamom stimulates metabolism and is also believed to have aphrodisiac properties.

coriander - is sold both in seed and powdered form. Used in chili, soups and stews as well as with potatoes, onions, and mushrooms. It is used in the cuisines of Africa, China, the Mediterranean, Latin America, Mexico and in Middle Eastern and Southeastern Asian dishes. In addition to minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin C, coriander is also believed to help reduce swelling and cholesterol levels, and eliminate mouth ulcers, anemia and menstrual disorders.

dill - the seeds and leaves are used in vegetable and egg dishes. As well as with shellfish, in soups, salads, pickles, dressings, and vinegars. Dill is also rich in minerals, vitamin C and flavonoids; one tablespoon has more calcium than 1/3 cup of milk.

fennel - is also known as the 'fish herb' by Italian and French cooks. It is used in many cultures such as in Indian curries. Used with lentils, potatoes, in stews, sauces, pastries, puddings and spiced fruit, it also works well with cinnamon. Fennel is a also a good source of niacin, calcium. vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper.

ginger - is an important ingredient in Asian cuisine. Ginger has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to ease digestive complaints and nausea and much more. According the the University of Michigan Cancer Center, ginger is used in CAM (Complimentary and Alternative Medicine). Ginger is often easily used as a tea.

oregano - there is Mexican and there is Mediterranean oregano and the herb can now be found growing throughout the world. Often partnered with basil, it is used with roasted vegetables, in soups, vinegars, salad dressings, in egg and cheese dishes and often mixed with other herbs like basil, parsley, thyme and garlic. Oregano also has strong antibacterial properties and can inhibit the growth of many kinds of bacteria, including those that can cause food borne illnesses.

rosemary - often used in French, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine and for marinades, with fish, onion, mushrooms, potatoes, winter squash and tomatoes. Works well with other spices such as garlic, parsley, sage, thyme and oregano. Rosemary has also been used throughout history to improve memory, treat colds, headaches, nervous tension and as an antispasmodic.

If you have any of the symptoms of poor digestion (as listed above), you may want to be sure to add these cooking herbs and spices, on the list, to your diet.

Many spices and herbs can be also be used to make teas with healthy benefits. See the link below and more links to other healthy lists:


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