Health Benefits of Culinary Herbs and Spices

Aug 17, 2009 | Eating Right

Editors Note: This post is written by contributor Gina Ryan. Gina is a licensed nutritionist and Wellness coach from Hawaii. 

Herbs (grown naturally in temperate regions) and spices (grown in tropic and subtropic regions) are an incredible and simple way to add flavor and powerful nutrients to your meals. Notice when foods are cooking and the delicious aromas fill the kitchen? The mixture of herbs and spices are releasing some of their aromatic oils to the air exciting the palate and preparing your body for digestion.

The Joy of Herbs and Spices

One of the easiest ways to get involved in your food from the ground up is to grow a simple herb garden. Food takes on a whole new and exciting feel when we have had our hands in the earth in which it was grown. Clipping your home grown dill for lunches cottage cheese or cutting basil for dinners. Pesto makes even the most resistant cook feel more like a creative chef and when we feel good and creative about preparing our food we make better food choices -naturally.

For the novice find some recipes and try and pay particular attention to the herbs and spices being called for and how they are combined . For those of you who have been cooking for a long time and enjoy it already perhaps you can experiment with some of your favorite herbs and spices and try them in an unusual combination making a signature dish to share with friends and family. Even adding a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice to baked or mashed potato, yam, or squash can begin to open your palate and health up to new horizons.

The Health Herbs and Spices

Besides exciting the palate and preparing the body for digestion by stimulating the production of saliva in the mouth the culinary herbs and spices help to destroy microbes and parasites in foods. They also aid the gut for efficient digestion of the meal while adding important vitamins and minerals to the diet. Generally cleaning and toning organs and speeding the removal of waste products through the colon and keeping the immune system fully functioning .

Common Kitchen Herbs and Spices Health benefits

  • Parsley- diuretic, aids edema, fluid retention, indigestion, gas, anti-parasitic, promotes healthy thyroid function
  • Capsicum (cayenne)- increases thermogenesis, increases circulation, promotes heart health, aids digestion, enhances performance of other herbs
  • Ginger-aids digestion and hypertension, promotes lung function, strengthens adrenal glands (often depleted by stress),relives morning sickness, nausea, gas
  • Rosemary- aids strong hair growth, enhances memory function, protects brain from free radical damage, combats fluid retention, topically makes hair shine
  • Garlic-has antibiotic, anti fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-viral activity, detoxifies, strengthens blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, enhances immune function
  • Peppermint- aids chills, fever, nausea, colic, diarrhea, headaches (internally and externally)
  • Sage- aids in mental clarity, circulation, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Basil- used to relive nervous disorders, headaches, rheumatic pains
  • Dill- relives colic, indigestion, gas, promotes breast milk production
  • Oregano- anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and anti-parasitic, enhances immune function
  • Thyme- anti-parasitic, relives muscle pain and tightness, makes cough more productive, enhances immune function

Using the healing properties of the garden as a part of daily life can be as simple as experimenting with fresh culinary herbs and spices, a new adventure in the kitchen to bring about your own healing and well being, go on spice up your life a bit just for your health.

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