When it comes to choosing herbs and spices, flavor is usually the ultimate deciding factor. However, throughout history, herbs and spices have often been used for their medicinal properties. Get to know eight of the world’s healthiest herbs and spices.
Turmeric is the ingredient in curry that gives it its yellow color. It is made up of remarkable antioxidizing and anti-inflammatory compounds—most notably, curcumin. Curcumin helps fight oxidative damage and boosts the body’s antioxidant enzymes. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties that compare in strength to certain over-the-counter drugs.
No, it doesn’t ward off vampires. However, garlic can help combat sicknesses, like the common cold, and improve heart health by reducing cholesterol. The health benefits come from a compound called allicin, which also gives garlic its distinct smell.
Ever wonder why your mom or dad gave you ginger ale when your stomach was upset? Well, it’s because ginger has been known to help treat nausea. It’s especially helpful when it comes to the stomach bug, morning sickness, chemotherapy and sea sickness. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties and can help with pain management.
Do you suffer from allergies? Rosemary is made up of rosmarinic acid, which has anti-inflammatory effects that can help prevent allergic symptoms and reduce nasal congestion. It’s also an easy herb to grow on your own (inside or outside), if you’re looking to put your green thumb to use.
Cinnamon is a potent antioxidant that helps fight inflammation and lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. However, its greatest effect is on lowering blood sugars. It’s known to drastically improve diabetic health. But don’t confuse pure cinnamon for cinnamon sugar—increasing your sticky bun intake will not have the same effect.
The medicinal uses of sage date back to the middle ages, when it was used to prevent the plague. Research today suggests that sage may be able to improve brain function and memory, especially in people with Alzheimer's disease. Sage prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical that can recede and spark the cognitive deterioration caused by Alzheimer’s.
It takes a candy cane to reduce the pain. Peppermint oil is known to reduce abdominal bloating and improve pain management in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by relaxing the smooth muscles in the colon.
Eating spicy food may actually help you lose weight, but it’s not because it makes you sweat. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which helps reduce appetite and increase fat burning.