Herb your way to health
Mother nature provides us with everything we need to make our meals flavoursome and a joy to eat. Your spice rack is a nutritional wonderland and it's high time you took advantage of it. Here are the best herbs and spices to incorporate into your diet.
Sage has many wonderful health benefits including being an excellent memory enhancer. Sage has also been shown to benefit mild Alzheimer’s suffers with word recall. Sage is rich in rosmarinic acid which helps reduce inflammation in the body and has a potent antioxidant action. This health-promoting herb can also help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and has been traditionally used by menopausal women to ease hot flushes.
This lovely warming herb helps stimulate digestion and appetite. It can help sooth an upset stomach, relieve indigestion, excess wind, and nausea, and is beneficial for alleviating diarrhoea. Cinnamon has been found to help keep blood sugar levels balanced, making it an ideal spice for diabetics. Cinnamon is also very high in antioxidants, containing the super antioxidant glutathione, and helps improve circulation.
Oregano is a rich source of antioxidants and vitamin K, which is important for improving the body’s ability to fight off infections and for improving bone density and blood clotting. This herb has strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders, urinary tract problems and menstrual cramping. It can also be used topically to help clear dandruff and acne and is a good natural insect repellant.
Rosemary has been traditionally used to boost memory and concentration, and to relieve stress, making it a great herb for students. This wonderful herb can also improve circulation, ease indigestion, heartburn and wind, and can be used topically to help stimulate hair growth. Rosemary contains high levels of antioxidants and has anti-microbial properties too.
Cayenne pepper is commonly used in cleansing and detox programs to help stimulate circulation and improve digestion by increasing stomach acids and enzyme secretion. Cayenne is beneficial for treating colds and flu too, as it helps clear mucus congestion, and eases sore throats and coughs. Cayenne is beneficial for weight loss as it helps dampen appetite and it is a thermogenic spice, meaning it helps to boost metabolism. Cayenne has also been found to help normalise blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Aniseed is known for its ability to help improve digestion and ease excess wind and nausea. It is beneficial for breastfeeding mums to help enhance milk supply, and can also help dampen nervousness. Aniseed is lovely and soothing for coughs and sore throats and can help clear up congestion. This spice is also considered an aphrodisiac to give your libido a lift.
Thyme has strong anti-bacterial and anti-microbial action, being particularly beneficial in the treatment of bacterial respiratory infections, acne and candida. Thyme may also help reduce high blood pressure and may offer protection from breast and colon cancer.
Cloves are useful for helping soothe an upset stomach and help aid digestion and excess wind. Cloves also have an antimicrobial action which helps rid the digestive tract of unwanted parasites and bacteria. Cloves are beneficial foreasing coughs and assisting with expelling phegm. They have been traditionally used topically to help relieve toothaches.
Cumin is high in iron and vitamin C so it will help support healthy immune function to fight colds and flu and other infections. Cumin is beneficial for improving digestion, and has anti-fungal properties. Cumin also helps the liver detoxify and can help relieve insomnia. Studies have also shown that cumin may have cancer-fighting abilities.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the bright yellow of the spice rainbow, is a powerful medicine that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic.
Credit: Lisa Guy, B&S