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Most spices and herbs offer numerous health benefits that we are not aware of. They are store houses of nutrients, anti-oxidants, and minerals. Read on to find out about the world’s best spices and herbs and their benefits.

What are Spices and Herbs?

Spices are dried parts of plants used for adding flavor or color to the food. Spices can be in the form of dried seeds, fruit, bark, or root of the plant. Commonly used spices include cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and cumin seed.

Herbs are defined as plants that are typically used for seasoning, food, or medicinal purposes. When used for culinary purpose, herbs can be either dried or green leafy parts of plants including seeds, bark, roots, or fruits. Herbs are commonly used in very small quantities for adding flavors rather than substance to the food. Common examples of herbs include sage, parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, and rosemary.

Importance of Spices and Herbs

Spices and herbs have been an integral part of our meals for millions of years. They are added to our meals for numerous reasons, the most important being for adding flavors and enhancing taste. Another important benefit of spices and herbs is that they help in preserving food for a longer duration. When added in the right amount, spices can work wonders to any boring dish. What most of us are not aware of is the fact that spices and herbs are rich in nutrients and offer numerous health benefits. 

Spices and herbs are rich in nutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Most spices and herbs, when used in small quantities, have little or no calories and are often rich in antioxidants. They have antiviral and antibacterial properties and are rich sources of B-vitamins and trace minerals.

Spices and herbs are also used for their medicinal values. They are known for preventing and curing diseases, curing stomach viruses, controlling blood pressure, and promoting healthy weight loss.

Numerous spices and herbs have unique healing properties

Ginger root is useful in curing inflammatory pain, nausea, and motion sickness. People often use spices such as cayenne and turmeric to add extra flavor to their dishes while at the same time reducing their intake of sodium which is known to increase blood pressure. A number of spices and herbs are used as a flavorful alternative for caffeinated beverages. Some commonly used spices and herbs which make excellent blends with tea include ginger, peppermint, vanilla, chamomile, and hops.

You must however be careful not to use herbal therapy as a replacement for medical intervention. You must consult your physician if you are planning to use a herb for curing a specific ailment.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • “Health benefits of herbs and spices: the past, the present, the future”, by Linda C. Tapsell, et al. Published in the August 2006 issue of the Medical Journal of Australia, accessed on April 29, 2013
  • “Traditional Indian spices and their health significance”, by Kamala Krishnaswamy. Published in the 2008 issue of Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, accessed on April 29, 2013.
  • Photo courtesy of ulterior epicure by Flickr :
  • Photo courtesy of Borislav Dimitrov by Flickr :