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Nutritional Benefits of Herbs and Spices
When you think about herbs and spices in your favorite food dishes I know you think flavor. But do you think healthy too? It turns out that dried herbs and spices are nutritional powerhouses providing our bodies with numerous antioxidants. According to the McCormick Spices website a teaspoon of thyme contains as many antioxidants as a carrot, a teaspoon of cinnamon contains as many antioxidants as a cup of pomegranate juice and ginger has as many antioxidants as a cup of spinach. Wow! These little spices pack a powerful nutritional punch for our bodies. Here are some of the most common herbs and spices and some of the health benefits they contain.
Basil - Basil is a powerful source of antioxidants that protects the body from damage causing free radicals. Basil provides protection against cellular aging, skin ailments, and most forms of cancer. Basil is a natural anti-inflammatory.
Bay leaves - Bay leaves should not be eaten raw, but when cooked provide the body with Vitamins A and C, manganese, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. Bay leaves have antibiotic and antifungal properties and can also help with digestion, diabetes and menstruation.
Cinnamon - Cinnamon has one of the highest levels of antioxidants among all the spices. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties that can help lessen joint and muscle pain. Cinnamon has been shown to help arthritis. Cinnamon is also rich in polyphenols which help regulate blood sugar levels. Cinnamon can also help upset stomachs and we frequently have toast with cinnamon when we area recovering from the stomach flu.
Ginger - Ginger has been proven to help prevent motion sickness and I have known people with morning sickness who have been helped with ginger. Ginger also helps stop migraines by preventing inflammation in the blood vessels in the brain.
Oregano - Oregano has the highest levels of antioxidants of all the herbs. Oregano also has many antimicrobial properties to help fight bacteria and parasites. Oregano has been shown to reduce the growth of many food borne bacteria making this a great spice to use in cooking meats.
Paprika - Paprika comes from red peppers and red peppers have been shown to help people eat less as well as boosting a person's metabolism. These two benefits combined make adding red peppers to your diet a great way to help lose weight. Paprika contains capsaicin which provides the body with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce cancer.
Parsley - Parsley is high in iron so can help with both anemia and fatigue. Parsley contains the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid - something that is frequently missing in many people's diets. Parsley is also high in protein, Vitamin K, beta carotene, and calcium.
Rosemary - Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs to use in cooking and when I found out it helps your memory I figured the more the better. I can use all the help I can get in that area. Rosemary also has antibacterial properties and can be used to help control under arm odor. Rosemary also improves circulation and blood flow.
Sage - Sage is an all around herb helping in a variety of ways from digestion to premenstrual cramps. Sage also reduces perspiration and can help a sore throat due to its antibacterial properties.
Thyme - Thyme has many anti-inflammatory benefits and has been shown to help with chest congestion and respiratory problems. I know when my kids have a bad cough I give them spoonfuls of honey and thyme to help control the cough. Making a tea with thyme can relieve menstrual cramps and PMS. Thyme is a great seasoning to use in cooking as it has anti-microbial properties that can make your food last longer.
Adding herbs and spices to your food and your diet is a great way to boost your immunity and health. Herbs and spices can provide a lot of health benefits. So take my advice and add some spice to your life in the form of herbs.