When thinking about herbs and spices, we usually think about their flavour profile and how they add taste to a dish. However, there are also many benefits of herbs and spices that you can explore. They can act as detoxifiers, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, digestion aids, and even relax your mental health! Adding them to your meals every day can help your overall mental and physical function, and better your wellbeing.
Read on to discover some of the brilliant benefits of herbs and spices:
10 Health-Boosting Benefits of Herbs and Spices You Need to Know
1. Gaining Antioxidants
A number of herbs and spices have antioxidant properties. This means that they inhibit and help to prevent the process of oxidation from happening within the body. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce a substance called free radicals – these lead to the damaging of cells. It is possible to buy supplements to heighten the levels of antioxidants in the body, but it is far better to absorb them naturally through your food. One of the best ways to absorb antioxidants is through your humble black pepper. Keep salt and pepper grinders on your table so you can add small amounts of pepper to each meal.
2. Reducing Inflammation
Many different herbs and spices contain anti-inflammatory properties, including turmeric, ginger, garlic, mint, and thyme. Anti-inflammatories can help to relieve inflammatory joint pains, prevent the body’s immune system from unnecessarily activating protective chemicals that can cause inflammation, reduce the pain impact of stress, and help to treat any inflammation arising from viruses and illness.
Due to the large quantities of herbs and spices with this property, you can include anti-inflammatories in almost every meal. Turmeric is a popular spice to put in curries such as tikka masalas or bhunas, and it can also be consumed in the form of tea to help ease cold and cough symptoms. Ginger is a brilliant spice for cooking rice bowls and can be consumed raw for the best health benefits. Garlic is ideal for cooking any meal, and thyme pairs wonderfully with chicken. Almost every meal you can think of, you can add an anti-inflammatory herb or spice!
3. Lowering Cholesterol
Lowering cholesterol levels helps to prevent serious conditions such as heart disease. Eating garlic on a daily basis has proven to successfully lower cholesterol levels and help to overall stabilise them. In the long term, this helps to prevent blood clots and thin the blood.
4. Preventing Infections
Essential to keeping a healthy body, antiseptics help to prevent infections by inhibiting the growth of infectious organisms. Turmeric and thyme are particularly good antiseptics – try to add them to your curries and chicken dishes in order to access their antiseptic benefits.
As well as including antiseptics in food, include them in teas or even skin washes or salves to help to heal from wounds.
5. Building the Immune System
The immune system is essential to keeping healthy and fighting off illness. It is very important that you include foods in your diet that can help to build up the strength of your immune system in order to be able to stay as healthy as possible.
Herbs and spices such as ginger, garlic, turmeric and cinnamon can all help to boost your immune system. Include them in as many meals as you can to feel the full benefit. For example, you can use cinnamon in baking, or you can purchase cinnamon teas.
6. Aiding Digestion
Herbs and spices can be great in aiding digestion, soothing the stomach, and reducing feelings of bloating. One of the best herbs to carry out this function is mint – it is well known for its stomach-soothing properties and in many cultures is traditionally drunk with or after meals in the form of peppermint tea.
7. Alleviating Feelings of Nausea
One of the benefits of herbs and spices that you may not be aware of is the ability to alleviate feelings of nausea. Ginger is a spice that is well known for having this effect. If you are struggling to eat solid foods, ginger can be consumed in the form of a tea drinker. However, if you want to feel a more immediate effect, try eating raw ginger either on its own, in a yoghurt, or in a small, light meal.
8. Soothing Abdominal Cramps
Herbs and spices are often useful for soothing abdominal cramps and pains that arise due to issues in the digestive system. Cinnamon and ginger are both ideals for this purpose. Ginger is known to be a natural painkiller. For treating aches, cramps, and pains, consume ginger in its raw form or in teas to feel the full benefit.
9. Detoxifying the Body
One of the most surprising benefits of herbs and spices is the ability to detoxify your body. Your kidneys and liver are incredibly important for keeping your body healthy and functioning as it should. Herbs and spices can help to detoxify and keep these organs healthy. If you are looking for the best herb or spice to detoxify with, nutmeg helps to detoxify the liver and kidneys, improving their function. It can even dissolve and help to treat kidney stones.
10. Providing a Barrier Against Fungal Infection
Fungal infections are incredibly common and can bring significant discomfort. Thankfully, many herbs and spices have antifungal properties. Turmeric is one of the most popular antifungal herbs and spices – it contains the active ingredient curcumin, which has been found in some studies to actually work better to treat fungal infections than man-made antifungal drugs. Garlic, cloves, and spearmint also have these properties.
Overall, there are many different surprising health benefits of herbs and spices that you may not have known about. Try and include herbs and spices in as many meals as you can in order to receive brilliant health benefits such as the boosting of the immune system, protection of body functions, and protection from illness and infection.