Use these Spices For Great Flavor and Potent Health Benefits
What are the Benefits of General Herb & Spice Use
- Anti-inflammatories- Many herbs and spices have very strong anti-inflammatory properties that offer great health benefits, such as limiting chronic disease risk, reducing joint pain, and promoting mental health. (1)
- Reduced Risk of Early Mortality- Populations that consume herbs and spices have been shown to have a reduced risk of chronic diseases, which are the leading causes of death in America. Those that consumed spicy foods frequently (5-7 times per week) had a 14% reduced risk of death. Their consumption included ginger, cayenne, turmeric, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and more (2).
- Gut Health- Many think that spicy foods are problematic for digestion, but the good bacteria in your gut actually thrive with their presence. They serve as a healthy source of food for the bacteria so that they can aid in a number of bodily functions, which include immune health, mental health, and digestion. (3)
Since many studies have examined high doses of consumption, they may not be as potent when they are limited to the small amounts added to your meal. That being said, the trend is extremely positive for regular herb and spice consumption, and populations with high consumption live longer, healthier lives.
Spices can Help Replace Salt Intake
America loves its salt, and perhaps rightfully so as it makes food taste great, but 9 out of 10 Americans get too much sodium each day. (4) Overconsumption is one of the top causes of hypertension, which in turn increases your risk for heart attack, stroke, and cancer. Understanding how to limit salt consumption can go a long way in reducing overall chronic disease cases.
Health organizations across the country strongly advocate for increased herb and spice intake to reduce salt consumption. The main reason is that they add a bunch of flavor, which reduces the need for extra salt. Dishes that replaced 50% of salt with herbs and spices were enjoyed the same amount as those that had the standard amount of salt. (5)
On top of causing high blood pressure, salt does not offer the same health benefits as herbs and spices, since salt is a rock while herbs and spices are plant derivatives. The plants offer unique compounds that promote the benefits mentioned above, whereas salt serves as solely a source of Na + Cl. This does not mean that salt is all bad, since no part of your body will function correctly without proper sodium intake. Instead, the idea is to help curb high intake, not completely substitute it.
Breaking Down Some of Our Favorite Herbs & Spices
For a more in-depth breakdown, click on each graphic to understand all the research currently found on the herb or spice.
Pairing Spices for Great Flavors
Spices are great in so many various combinations, so feel free to experiment in order to find the ones you enjoy best. These are just some of our go-to combos.
NOTE: Don’t forget to add black pepper wherever it makes sense, as it boosts absorption of many vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds.
Herb & Spices Blend 1
Great for a southwestern or cajun take on food. Consider adding to grilled/sautéed/baked poultry, seafood, and vegetables.
Herb & Spices Blend 2
This spice combo is excellent in a stir fry or fried rice. Consider adding low sodium soy sauce for some serious flavor.
Herb & Spices Blend 3
Inspiration from Italian dishes. This spice combo goes great in pastas, or with a sautéed/bake protein.
Herb & Spices Blend 4
These spices together work best in a sweeter dish/drink, as cinnamon pairs best with sweet options. Consider adding any or all of these to your teas or coffees, especially with some honey or maple syrup as well.
NOTE: We are not stopping you, but ginger may not be great in coffee…
Everything in Moderation
Many herbs and spices are now being offered as high-dose supplements. Be wary of taking in these options in high doses, as cooking usually only uses minor amounts. Research must be done to understand the ideal doses. Too much may actually be detrimental, as we see in so many various things. If you are cooking, feel free to mess with serving sizes until you find combinations you like!
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