Spices and herbs are most known to enhance and add flavor to our favorite foods and meals. But, did you know, certain spices and herbs can also have significant health benefits like lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of common colds, easing inflammation, improving brain function, and more? 

We’ve compiled 10 of the most nutritional spices and herbs to consider adding to your diet.

Spices:

1. Cinnamon 

Made from the bark of a cinnamon tree, cinnamon is a sweeter spice that has many benefits like lowering blood pressure and can help fight inflammation. This is especially important for diabetics or people at risk of developing heart disease. For these benefits, try adding a dash of cinnamon to your coffee, yogurt, fruit, and even a splash in hearty dishes such as chili or stews. 

Spices and herbs like turmeric offer health benefits like reducing pain.
Turmeric

2. Turmeric 

Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory benefits. Curcumin can help reduce pain and swelling, limit oxidative stress, and boost antioxidant enzymes in your body. Turmeric is commonly used in Indian dishes like yellow curry, but can be added to roasted vegetables and meats. This recipe for golden milk is another super simple and delicious way to include turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne to your diet.

3. Ginger

Ginger is made from a plant and commonly used to help relieve nausea, upset stomach and diarrhea. Just one gram of ginger can help treat general nausea and/or nausea from morning sickness, chemotherapy, and motion sickness. 

4. Garlic

Garlic is a strong smelling bulb that contains the active ingredient allicin, responsible for garlic’s heavy scent. Powdered or fresh garlic can be added to your favorite dishes for beneficial effects like fighting side effects of the common cold and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Additionally, garlic can raise estrogen levels in women, promoting bone health

5. Cayenne

Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper often used as a spicy ingredient in Cajun, Creole, Mexican, and Southwestern American dishes. Cayenne includes an important active ingredient called capsaicin that can reduce pain and increase fat burning. 

Fresh Herbs: 

6. Basil 

Basil is a leafy green herb of the mint family, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There are a handful of basil varieties including: Sweet basil, Holy basil, Bush/Greek basil, Thai basil, Cinnamon basil, and Lettuce basil. Of these, Holy and Sweet basil are most commonly used for positive health benefits like lowering blood pressure and even stress. 

7. Mint

Fresh mint leaves are a popular addition to desserts, drinks, teas, salads, and more. Mint can aid in digestion, help relieve indigestion, and clear congestion caused by the common cold in the nose, throat, or lungs. 

8. Echinacea

Echinacea is a herb plant of the daisy family commonly used in teas and as extracts in creams or lotions. Echinacea has similar health benefits to other herbs listed like improving immunity, defending against oxidative stress, and lowering blood sugar levels and inflammation in the body. 

Parsley

9. Parsley

Parsley, often used as a garnish, is rich in antioxidants that help reduce cell damage and support immunity including vitamin C. Additionally, parsley contains vitamin K, which supports bone health by building bone cells and density. Parsley is a versatile herb that can be added as a garnish on top of your favorite dishes or included in stews, sauces, and salad dressings. This recipe for chimichurri is a great use of parsley.

10. Oregano  

Oregano is another versatile herb that is commonly used in cooking in various forms: fresh, dried, and as an oil. The herb includes antioxidants that help fight bacterial infections and reduce inflammation. As little as one teaspoon of oregano counts for 8% of your vitamin K daily needs. Oregano can be added to pizza, pasta, chili, soup, fresh pesto, and homemade sauces. 

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