We love them for the flavour they add to our meals, but there is more to herbs and spices than their aroma and flavour. They contain essential nutrients that are beneficial to the body.
Although there is little or no scientific evidence to show that they can cure diseases, many herbs and spices have been known throughout history for their medicinal benefits.
Here are four of the world’s healthiest herbs and spices—probably stashed away in your pantry.
Cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels
This is a popular spice, found in all sorts of recipes and baked goods. Cinnamon has potent antioxidant activity, helps fight inflammation and has been shown to lower cholesterol in the blood. Research shows that it may reduce blood sugar levels. It helps to regulate glucose by slowing down the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract and improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory effects
This is the spice that gives curry its yellow colour and it contains several compounds with medicinal properties including the powerful curcumin.
Curcumin is an essential antioxidant, helping to fight oxidative damage—believed to be one of the key mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases. Turmeric also helps to reduce the effect of stress on the body.
Peppermint reduces nausea and IBS pains
Many studies have shown that peppermint oil can improve pain management in irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. Other studies suggest that peppermint in aromatherapy can help fight nausea. In addition, peppermint is an effective muscle relaxer thanks to its cooling menthol compound. It is no surprise therefore that menthol is often an active ingredient in ointments and creams that target muscle pain.
Rosemary for allergy preventions
The active ingredient in rosemary called rosmarinic acid has been shown to suppress allergic responses and nasal congestion.
In a study with 29 individuals, both 50 and 200 mg doses of rosmarinic acid were shown to suppress allergy symptoms. Findings from that study also show that the number of immune cells in nasal mucus also decreased, with reduced congestion.
Other health-packed herbs and spices include ginger, garlic, holy basil, parsley, oregano, etc. However, while many people may derive some benefits or experience an improvement in health from including these in their diets, they should not be depended on for full treatment of health conditions. As always, the advisable thing to do is to see your doctor to discuss the best course of treatment.