Herbs and spices can make time spent cooking or baking in the kitchen a fun, creative and tasty experience. However, what you may not know is that these same herbs have numerous benefits unrelated to the taste or aroma of food. In fact, many have components within that make them beneficial to people’s health. These eight options are among the most beneficial in the kitchen.
Known for its spicy hotness, cayenne pepper is well-loved in a variety of savory foods. While some mix it into breading for chicken and other meats or into rice mixtures, others sprinkle it liberally over their soups and pizzas. It turns out, more than just your taste buds benefit from this spice. The capsaicin within the cayenne is what makes it hot as well as healthy. It can boost metabolism, decrease congestion associated with head colds and relieve arthritis pain. In addition, some studies show that it may fight against cancer as well as diabetes. The FDA has also approved it for use on the skin to reduce pain and itching.
Tasty in baked goods and hot drinks, cinnamon has been used since ancient times in both food and medicinal remedies. Today, cinnamon is most often noted for its anti-diabetic properties with people with type 2 diabetes by helping you maintain better control over blood sugar. In addition, it is one of the best antioxidants found in nature and is an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory substance; it has even been known to fight against E. coli. Finally, it can increase your heart health by decreasing cholesterol and thinning the blood to decrease blood clots.
Another delicious spice found often in baked goods, cloves come whole or ground, similar to cinnamon. However, they are more pungent than cinnamon and are used medicinally for their high levels of eugenol. Eugenol is an anti-inflammatory agent, which makes cloves a great choice if you have a toothache. Clove oil can be applied to the gums to help in numbing them and in decreasing any swelling. As an antioxidant, cloves increase heart health, fight against cancer and may even slow damage done to joints from arthritis.
A favorite savory herb found in a plethora of foods, from pastas and soups to roasted meats and breads, garlic can be used fresh or dried. While you may enjoy the flavors that this pungent herb brings forth in your meals, you may also appreciate the reason behind the pungency. A chemical called allicin is what creates the aroma as well as the healing properties. Garlic has the ability to reduce both total and LDL cholesterol by around 10-15 percent. As an antibacterial and antifungal herb, it can also stave off yeast infections, sinus infections and more.
Possibly best known for its role in ginger cookies, ginger is actually a large root that can be grated fresh or used dried in all sorts of foods. Fresh ginger makes delicious brewed teas and was well-loved in the Far East before it made its way to the Western world centuries ago. Since ancient times, ginger has been known for its soothing effect on the stomach and intestines and may be able to cure your stomachache or nausea. In fact, it can even work on morning sickness during pregnancy provided that ginger is ingested before the nausea starts. Ginger works on more than just the digestive tract, however; it can also help relieve the pain and swelling that are inherent with arthritis.
An herb that is often paired with meats, particularly when they are roasted, sage has also been long-valued for improving mental health. In fact, similar to its name, sage can indeed help with knowledge and wisdom as it guards the brain against some types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s. Moreover, sage oil can help you fight against anxiety and will leave you with a feeling of calm; you can try sage to boost your mood. You may also discover secondary benefits, such as blood sugar reduction, a lowering of cancer risk and decreased swelling.
Less familiar than several other herbs, tarragon is still a delicious choice for kitchen cooking, especially in Mediterranean dishes. Originally grown in Central Asia, including Siberia, it can now be found in almost any grocery store spice rack. Tarragon features many familiar antioxidant qualities, including cancer risk reduction and the boosting of heart health. It can also prevent stroke by lowering the risk of blood clots. However, it may be most well-known for boosting the appetite and, as such, is used in the natural treatment of eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and dyspepsia. Finally, you may also consider using it in the same way as cloves for a local anesthetic on sore teeth and gums.
Also less common than most other herbs, turmeric is actually found in curry powder, is part of the ginger root family and is known for its bright, golden yellow color. It is commonly found in Indian cuisine and has a strong, deep flavor. Medicinally, it is most frequently used for stimulating the appetite and for its other benefits to the digestive system, such as the quelling of stomachaches. In addition, the main component of turmeric, curcumin, may be one of the strongest herbs for fighting against cancer. It can decrease tumor growth and the cancer from spreading, particularly head and neck cancers, by stopping the inflammation associated with this process.
You can see that fresh or even dried herbs and spices have a place in more than just your kitchen cabinet. You can add any of these options to your medicine cabinet to create a healthier heart, digestive system, immune system and more. The easiest way to gain the benefits of these herbs is to stock them on your spice rack and to use them in your everyday cooking and baking. However, you may also want to try some specialties, such as fresh ginger root tea if you suffer from frequent upset stomachs or clove oil if you have sore or sensitive gums.