The use of spices and herbs dates back as far as early Egypt (2100 BC). Onions and garlic were used as medicine to maintain health. Then, they became essential in the embalming process to preserve against decay. In India, the spices enjoyed today have been used for thousands of years. Spices and herbs also played an important role in ancient Greek medicine. Hippocrates said great care should be given to the preparation of herbs for medicinal use. The numerous benefits of herbs and spices continue to be recognized and appreciated today.
There are three significant reasons why herbs and spices have been savored by many societies for so long:
1. Weight Loss/Management: herbs and spices can decrease the amount of calories, salt, fat, and sugar without sacrificing flavor.
2. Health Maintenance: they help to protect against many chronic health conditions.
3. Flavor: they add flavor, texture, taste, aroma, and color to food.
Here’s a list of some of the more commonly used spices/herbs and their benefits:
Basil: often considered the ‘king of herbs’, has been used to treat stress, asthma and diabetes in India for centuries
Cilantro: rich in iron and fiber, disease-fighting phytonutrient
Rosemary: improves memory
Turmeric: anti-inflammatory that could stop cancer from growing
Cinnamon: antioxidant, lowers blood sugar
Nutmeg: contains antibacterial compounds
Cumin: anti-inflammatory that could help stop tumor growth
Cayenne Pepper: helps burn fat—boost metabolism
Ginger: diuretic, hinders cholesterol absorption, anti-nausea
Black Pepper: boosts metabolism and helps digestion
Oregano: natural source of omega-3 fatty acids
There are many ways to use herbs and spices in your favorite dishes. Cinnamon is a delicious addition to protein shakes. Chicken and curry pair well together. A delicious recipe for salad dressing: allspice (1 part), cinnamon (1 part), and black pepper (1/2 parts) mixed with olive oil and heated up. Turmeric adds color and flavor to veggies. Cilantro enhances the taste of salsa and guacamole.
Herbs and spices make food healthier and tastier. They add no calories and contain no sugar. So what are you waiting for? Enjoy your food like never before!