Herbs and spices aren’t always the star of the show, but they certainly pack a surprising nutritional punch.
They can, in fact, be considered one of the first true “functional foods” because they have been grown and farmed for thousands of years—as far back as 5000 BC—and have a long history of medicinal usage.
Some facts about herbs & spices:
- They are among the richest sources of antioxidants and on a weight basis, are higher than many fruits and vegetables.
- They add add flavour and aroma to food without the extra calories.
- They boost the health benefits of foods due to their synergistic effect.
- Fresh herbs are best when added toward the end of cooking.
- The amount of fresh herbs needed is usually 2-4 times more than dried herbs.
The words “herb” and “spice” are often used interchangeably, but they are botanically very different. Herbs are generally thought of as from the leaf, while spices are any other part of the plant, like buds (e.g., cloves), bark (e.g., cinnamon), roots (e.g., ginger), berries (e.g., peppercorns) and aromatic seeds (e.g. cumin).
Garlic: Antioxidant, supports cardiovascular health, anti-inflammatory, boosts immunity
Ginger: Antioxidant, eases nausea, anti-inflammatory, boosts immunity, antimicrobial
Lemon Grass: Antioxidant, anti-cancer properties, anti-inflammatory
Cilantro: Antioxidant, lowers blood sugar, digestive aid, antimicrobial
Chili: Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, improves digestive health & metabolism
Basil: Antioxidant, promotes circulation, lowers blood pressure, decreases inflammation
Dill: Antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, digestive aid
Parsley: Antioxidant, supports bone health, anti-carcinogen, anti-inflammatory, natural diuretic
Oregano: Antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory
Thyme: Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiseptic properties
Rosemary: Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, promotes circulation, cognitive stimulant, digestive aid
Here are some creative ways to spice-up your food:
- Substitute some of the greens in your salad with fresh herbs or herb flowers
- Add to beverages (mint lemonades or fresh camomile tea)
- Garnish your plate (chopped mint on lamb, parsley on any cooked meat)
- Sprinkle lavender, basil or mint on fresh fruit
- Pick a culinary theme (Italian = oregano, garlic & basil, Indian = cumin, curry & coriander)
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