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  • Writer's pictureLindsey Fausnaugh

Spices Offer More Than Flavor

Herbs and spices have been used since ancient times, but are currently playing an important culinary and medicinal role today. Culinary use of herbs and spices can be used to replace or reduce the need to add less healthy seasonings like salt and sugar in recipes. This helps support a healthy diet that is both heart healthy and diabetic friendly. Herbs and spices, like all plant foods, contain powerful compounds called antioxidants that fight against oxidation and inflammation in the body. Oxidation and inflammation both contribute to chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

How to reduce salt in recipes without sacrificing flavor

Choose savory or biting spices and herbs like black pepper, garlic powder, curry powder, cumin, dill seeds, basil, ginger, coriander, onion, tarragon, and oregano.

Using sweet herbs and spices to reduce added sugar

To reduce sugar in a recipe, use sweet spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, anise, fennel, and mint. They are appealing in sweet dishes, and the amount of sugar may be reduced because they give the impression of greater sweetness without raising blood sugar.

These 5 spices are gaining popularity due to their promising health benefits: turmeric, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, and oregano.

Turmeric is a golden-colored spice with warm peppery notes and is becoming known as the nutrition powerhouse. It’s been around for thousands of years and there are many studies on the healing properties of its active compound curcumin. Its claim to fame is the potential protection against Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, arthritis, and depression.

How to add turmeric to your diet:

Add ¼ teaspoon to water when cooking rice. Put ½ teaspoon into oil before sautéing vegetables or making a stir-fry. Add a dash to potato soup, chicken soup, or chili. Sprinkle on roasted cauliflower or whip together with low-fat mayonnaise for a tasty egg salad. Lightly dust popcorn or other snack mixes for a new flavor sensation.

Ginger is a pungent peppery spice. Ginger root is available in the produce area and powdered ginger is in the spice aisle of your grocery store. It is best known for its ability to alleviate nausea or soothe the stomach. Research is now showing that ginger may be as helpful for migraine sufferers as the prescription medication Imitrex according to a small Phytotherapy Research Study. Ginger is also packed with inflammation-fighting compounds. It may help with osteoarthritis by alleviating pain and reducing joint swelling. Food and Nutrition Research preliminary studies are revealing ½-1 tsp of fresh ginger a day may improve markers of heart disease like fasting blood sugar, HDL cholesterol, and inflammation.

How to use ginger:

Grate fresh ginger or sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of powdered ginger over cooked vegetables or tofu. Toss sliced ginger into a stir-fry. Rub ground ginger onto meat before grilling to help tenderize and add flavor. Fresh ginger can be steeped into a tea by adding a coin size piece. Sprinkle a little ground ginger and brown sugar on acorn squash or sweet potatoes before baking.

Coriander comes from the sweet, nutty seeds of the coriander plant. You may be familiar with the coriander plant’s leaves known as cilantro. It can ease digestive discomforts like abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Coriander works like an antispasmodic drug, relaxing the contracting digestive muscles. This same relaxing effect works on the arteries, which is why coriander is also linked with helping lower blood pressure.

How to use coriander:

Mix coriander seed with peppercorn in your peppermill. Coarsely grind coriander and rub it into meats or fish before cooking. Whole coriander or ground coriander seeds can be mixed into stews, casseroles, marinades, vinaigrettes, and pickled dishes.

Cinnamon is an ancient spice with a long medicinal history and an antioxidant powerhouse. Cinnamon helps regulate daily blood sugar and cholesterol and offers anti-inflammatory benefits. It also provides relief from colds or flu, especially when it’s mixed in tea with some fresh ginger. It has been used to treat flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, and painful menstrual periods. It’s also believed to improve energy, vitality, and circulation.

How to use cinnamon:

Toss a cinnamon stick into a beef stew or use it as a stirrer for coffee or tea. Put a dash of ground cinnamon on oatmeal, cereal, squash, and rice pilaf. Or, try sprinkling a mix of cinnamon and brown sugar on apples, bananas, melons, and oranges.

Oregano this wonderful herb can add a warm, balsamic, and aromatic flavor to many different dishes, especially those of Mediterranean cuisine. Oregano is known to help with respiratory illnesses, calm digestion, and loosen mucus.

How to use oregano:

Perfect for use in many tomato-based recipes. Spice up tomato soup by adding ¾ teaspoon per can. Add ½ teaspoon to two cups of pasta or pizza sauce. (Substitute 1 teaspoon dried oregano with two teaspoons fresh.) Or, try adding 1/8 teaspoon to scrambled eggs and salad dressing.

Herbs and spices are a healthful way to enhance the flavor and visual appeal of food while also offering several health benefits!

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