Not only do herbs and spices improve the taste of our food, they provide a range of nutrients and health benefits. Some spices are known to boost metabolism, improve insulin sensitivity and improve digestion. Many herbs and spices also contain more disease-fighting antioxidants per gram than fruits and vegetables.
Here are some common health benefiting herbs and spices, and how to incorporate them daily:
There are a number of varieties of ginseng, all with the ability to restore and enhance wellbeing, and is one of the most popular herbal remedies. Asian and American Ginseng is believed to boost energy, lower blood sugar, reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Well known for its ability to stabilize blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which can in turn aid fat burning. Cinnamon has one of the highest antioxidant levels and has been shown to reduce inflammation and blood triglyceride levels. Sprinkle over oats, pancakes, homemade muesli bars or protein balls, roasted sweet potato and pumpkin, add to smoothies. Cinnamon is also delicious as part of a chilli spice mix.
3. Cayenne pepper:
A little goes a long way with this hot spice! The active ingredient ‘capsaicin’ in cayenne boosts metabolism which increases your body’s ability to burn fat. It also increases circulation, allowing more oxygen and nutrients delivery throughout the body. Just be careful if you have a sensitive stomach as too much can irritate the stomach lining. Use to flavor meat, poultry or spice up fish dishes. Delicious when combined with paprika and sea salt to chickpeas before roasting.
Turmeric has long been studied for its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. The active ingredient ‘curcmin’ has been found to reduce the formation of fat tissue by suppressing the blood vessels needed to form it, and therefore may contribute to lower body fat. Turmeric has also shown to inhibit growth of some cancers, and improve brain function. Warm up a delicious turmeric latte, or add turmeric to roasted veggies (especially delicious on cauliflower), curries, meat and poultry, egg dishes, or in smoothies (perfect with ginger and banana, pineapple or mango).
Ginger can improve digestion and is particularly useful at easing nausea and stomach upset. Ginger can also help detoxification pathways by stimulating digestion, circulation and sweating. This may help cleanse the liver, colon and other organs. Add fresh chopped ginger to your cup of tea, or water bottle with a little lemon. Ginger is also delicious in stir frys, curries or over baked fish.
Rosemary is said to have a calming and stress-busting effect. A study even showed that rosemary oil used before an exam reduced test anxiety. Rosemary is also said to boost memory, protect from DNA damage, improve circulation, detoxify the liver and sooth digestion.
Fresh or dried Rosemary is often used to flavor chicken, lamb, fish and meat and is perfect on roasted potatoes. Rosemary is also a nice addition to omelets.