Spices and Herbs
Looking to add some variety and flavor to your meals? Take a walk down the spice aisle at your favorite grocery store! Trying different herbs and spices is a great way to introduce new flavors and maybe even boost the nutritional benefit of some of your dishes. A spice is the seed of a plant and can be used whole or ground. An herb is a flower or leaf and can often be found fresh or dried.
Spices and herbs have played an important role in our history and have long been revered for their benefits and usefulness – flavoring food, preserving food, and medicinal properties. Like all plant foods, spices and herbs are a source of many beneficial phytochemicals.
Adding spices and herbs to your dishes instead of salt is a great way to add flavor and reduce your sodium intake.
When purchasing dried spices and herbs, choose high-quality brands that you trust. Date and label your spices and use within one year or freeze them. Dried spices and herbs will lose flavor over time.
Dried spices and herbs can be a source of food-borne illness. If you are worried about food- borne illness or are at high risk (elderly, very young, or immune compromised) heat or toast your spices before use. Not only does this help to kill bacteria, it may also enhance the flavor.
Here are a few of the many herbs and spices that have been found to have health benefits:
- Cinnamon has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may help to lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
- Peppermint and ginger are well known to help reduce nausea.
- Turmeric is the source of a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound, curcumin.
- Oregano is another powerhouse like turmeric. Oregano is high in antioxidants. It also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
- Paprika is rich in iron and vitamin E. It may also have a blood sugar lowering effect and anti-inflammatory properties.
Try adding fresh herbs to salads, grain bowls, or use as sandwich toppers. Add a variety of dried spices to roasted vegetables to liven up your favorite veggie side dish.
Try our spiced roasted carrot recipe.