This month we are all about herbs and spices! Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to you food without getting added fats, sugar or sodium. They are versatile, easy to use, and generally have a long shelf life. Many also have added health benefits. Did you know there is technically a difference between herbs and spices? Herbs come from the leaf part of a plant while spices come from seeds, fruit, or bark of a plant. Fresh herbs and spices are easy to grow in pots or in an outdoor garden.
Commonly found in Indian food such as curry, Turmeric has significant health benefits. Curcumin, the antioxidant found it turmeric, gives it a bright yellow color. It has anti-inflammatory properties and also linked to improved brain function and memory. Studies also show a positive improvement in depression with curcumin supplementation.
Ginger is very versatile and used fresh, dried, or powdered in many recipes. This spice originated in China and is commonly used to treat nausea. Ginger is also thought to help with digestion by speeding up gastric emptying. Other potential benefits include aiding in blood sugar control, improved menstrual pain, and improved cholesterol.
Cinnamon has large amounts of powerful antioxidants. This spice may reduce total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides without reducing HDL – the protein that takes cholesterol from the fat in your diet to aid with vitamin absorption, brain development, and body temperature regulation. It can also improve insulin sensitivity.
Peppermint is an herb that can help with digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, and indigestion. However, it should be noted that it can worsen reflux symptoms. Peppermint is also known to freshen breath and give you extra energy.
Fun fact: rosemary can be considered both a spice and an herb. Rosemary contains vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Rosemary may help with constipation and digestion. It also contains powerful antioxidants – carnosol and carnosic acids which are anti-inflammatory. Essential oils derived from rosemary are used to improve mood.
Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Healthline