8 essential kitchen herbs and spices

There are several herbs and spices with multiple potential benefits, such as those with anti-inflammatory properties, cognitive enhancers, just to name a few. Some of these herbs and spices are turmeric, peppermint, ginger and many more.

Close-up of some healthy herbs

Long before modern medicine, the ancient Greeks used a variety of spices and herbs for their healing properties. Hippocrates (460-377 BCE) used saffron, cinnamon, thyme, coriander, and other herbs as treatments, many of which are still used by humans today as holistic remedies for fever, pain, and other ailments. Increasingly, research shows that many herbs and spices have properties that can help relieve certain symptoms.

This article explores the health benefits of 10 herbs and spices, including turmeric, peppermint, ginger, and more.

Turmeric

Turmeric, also known as curcumin, is one of the most popular spices used today, both for cooking and for its health benefits. Laboratory studies have shown that turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and antiparasitic properties. Of all these effects, research shows that turmeric is the most effective for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. As a chain-breaking antioxidant and anti-inflammatory spice, turmeric enhances the safe source of oxidative stress through its ability to scavenge toxic free radicals in the body. Free radicals are tissue-damaging molecules with an unequal number of electrons that can be catalysts for chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Thanks to its high antioxidant content, turmeric can help reduce the risk of free radical formation and reduce the effects of stress on the body.

Ginger

People have used ginger as a remedy for nausea and gastrointestinal problems for thousands of years. Today, people mainly use ginger root as a spice or as a supplement to treat digestive problems. Closely related to turmeric, ginger also contains anti-inflammatory properties. Reliable source and a very high level of total antioxidants. Only pomegranates and some types of berries contain more. As a remedy for nausea, several controlled studies have shown that ginger is effective as an antiemetic. It can be used against seasickness, motion sickness and morning sickness.

Cumin

Cumin is a popular culinary spice used for its aromatic effects. Conducted studies show that it is also beneficial for weight loss, cholesterol, stress management, etc. It also has strong antioxidant potential. Research also shows that cumin is an antidiabetic. A group of 80 people took an Ayurvedic formulation containing cumin over a 24-week period and their postprandial blood sugar levels were significantly reduced.

Peppermint

Peppermint is an extremely popular spice, often used as a flavoring. It is native to Europe and Asia. In these regions, people used it before the advent of modern medicine for its cooling effects, antibacterial properties, and to improve digestion. Research shows that as a holistic remedy, peppermint is also effective in improving cardiovascular (heart) and pulmonary (lung) health by acting as a bronchodilator. Bronchiodilators work by widening the airways (bronchioles) in the lungs. Inhaling the scent of peppermint will also increase a person’s nasal airflow, allowing more air to be sent to the lungs. Some studies also show that peppermint is an effective muscle relaxant thanks to its cooling minty compound. That is why menthol is often an active ingredient in ointments and creams that combat muscle pain.

Cinnamon

Ancient civilizations have used cinnamon since 2,800 BCE to anoint, embalm, and treat disease. While not as widely used as it was thousands of years ago due to its therapeutic properties, cinnamon still offers countless health benefits as an antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory spice. A 2015 review shows that cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels. Its role in regulating glucose in the body has been suggested in many small randomized control studies, although the results were not significant enough to be conclusive.

chili powder

2015 research suggests that capsaicin, the phytochemical that makes chili powder spicy, may play an important role in regulating heart health and metabolism. When people consume chili powder, the spice induces beneficial protein changes in the body that are conducive to weight loss. But researchers don’t quite understand how it works. People who participated in a Trusted Source study in which they consumed moderate amounts of chili over a 12-week period experienced weight loss, which was caused by chili’s impact on the body to better control insulin, among other therapeutic effects. In another study, researchers noted that regular consumption of chili also significantly reduced the amount of fatty tissue in the abdomen and decreased appetite and energy intake.

Parsley

Parsley is an herb native to the Mediterranean region. Many have used it over the years, both as a culinary herb and as a therapeutic treatment for a range of health conditions, including high blood pressure and allergies. This herb is packed with antioxidants, carotenoids and other beneficial vitamins that promote a healthy body and immune system. This includes vitamin K, an essential nutrient for human health

Oregano

Another herb that is very present in the Mediterranean diet is oregano, which is used by many not only as a food flavor enhancer, but also as an aromatic oil and dietary supplement. The herb’s antioxidants contribute to its potent flavor and fragrance, and may also provide benefits such as:

reduce inflammation
regulation of blood sugar levels
improved insulin resistance
relieve urinary symptoms and menstrual cramps

Oregano, as an isolated herb, cannot produce these results on its own. But people can use it for its antioxidant properties that are beneficial for many health conditions.

Overview

Kitchen herbs and spices add flavor to meals, but are also powerhouses of essential nutrients that greatly benefit the body. Including herbs and spices in the diet may provide some health benefits or improvement, but they should not be relied on alone for the complete treatment of certain diseases.

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