Here Are 15 Herbs And Spices That Can Drastically Improve Your Health

October 19, 2019

Whether you grind them up, mix them into a cocktail, or sprinkle them on top of a home-cooked meal, adding natural ingredients like herbs and spices to your recipes can make them more nourishing in a snap.

According to Monica Auslander Moreno, an adjunct professor of nutrition at the University of Miami and a dietitian for the Miami Marlins, “Herbs and spices fight inflammation and reduce damage to your body’s cells. That’s because each one is rich in phytochemicals, which are healthful plant chemicals.”

But that’s not the only kind of health benefits these cupboard essentials can provide. While most herb and spices are widely known to be used as flavor enhancers, they’re also a rich source of antioxidants and have the potential to naturally help people live a longer and healthier life.

Of course, herbs and spices aren’t cure-alls for every ailment. It’s important to make sure you not only create nutritious home-cooked meals, but to exercise four to fives days a week.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t head to the grocery store and stock up ASAP. We gathered a full list of spices and herbs you should add to your grocery list to make more nutritious meals that will help you live a healthier life.

1. Cocoa

Are you cuckoo for cocoa?

You may just associate cocoa with that chocolaty drink you can consume during the winter months, but it’s really so much more. There is a nutritious powder that originates from cocoa beans.

On its own, cocoa is loaded with health benefits. Just two tablespoon servings of it contain four grams of fiber, 1.5 milligrams of iron, and 54 milligrams of magnesium.

It’s also known as being an antidepressant and has the potential to lower bad cholesterol. Try to include this nutritious powder in your oatmeal for a chocolaty treat. Who’d have thought chocolate (in its purest form, of course) could be so good for you?

2. Cinnamon

There’s a reason this healing spice used to be more valuable than gold.

In traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, cinnamon is a familiar spice that has been used for its healing properties.

According to Carina Parikh, holistic nutritionist for Kate Naumes ND Holistic Wellness in Dallas, cinnamaldehyde, which is naturally a part of cinnamon, is a substance that provides the majority of benefits we know and love. For instance, cinnamon has the potential to treat type 2 diabetes, lower bad cholesterol, and reduce inflammation.

Um, who else will be sprinkling cinnamon on everything from now on?

3. Garlic

Vampires might not agree.

While garlic might be a widely known spice, you may not be familiar with its densely beneficial benefits.

To start, it has the ability to lower your chances of getting heart disease and could aid in reducing high cholesterol and high blood pressure, according to WebMD. Plus, garlic is also known to be very beneficial for destroying cancerous cells, from the prostate, brain, and lungs.

Trust us, it’s worth the questionable breath.

4. Cardamom

This spice is usually found in your chai.

Even though this spice is packed with flavor, it’s also has a handful of benefits you can’t ignore.

According to Livestrong, Cardamom is loaded with iron, manganese, and fiber (when cooked). Opt to add it to lentil stews or mix it with vegetables for added flavor.

5. Rosemary

This herb is magic.

The next time you’re considering flavoring your chicken, opt for rosemary. It’s a great source of calcium and iron, and it can help improve your digestion and concentration.

But if there’s one benefit that’ll blow the others out of the water, it’s that it has the ability to prevent your brain from aging. This is especially good if you have a history of Alzheimer’s in your family.

It’s also one of the main ingredients in “Engagement Chicken” (yes, it’s a thing), so maybe it can help in the love department too — at least as a placebo!

6. Turmeric

You’re probably very familiar with this spice.

This spice has a beautiful yellow color, and it helps reduce inflammation.

But that’s not all. Turmeric can lower the risk of heart disease, prevent and possibly treat cancer, and may be able to fight depression, according to Healthline.

While turmeric does have a strong flavor, it’s perfect to use for a golden milk recipe. Drink this as a nightcap to let it works its magic while you sleep.

7. Cumin

Yes, this taco seasoning is good for you.

What’s not to love about cumin? It’s tasty and has been around for centuries. Good news is, it’s also very nutritious.

The next time you have a cold, incorporate cumin into a recipe to get rid of your flu quickly. A study has concluded that cumin has amazing antibacterial properties. Plus, it can also help get rid of your respiratory issues.

8. Sage

This herb can heal your body in addition to your home.

While you may have used sage to get rid of any bad energy from your home, you can also use it to heal your insides.

According to Medical News Today, sage can protect the body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals and help lower glucose levels.

9. Peppermint

Pregnant women love this oil.

But you don’t have to be pregnant to reap its benefits. When digested, peppermint can reduce pain from IBS, aka irritable bowel syndrome by reducing spasms in the digestive tract.

It can also help relieve tension headaches by creating a warm surface and minimizing the pain below the surface level. Be careful not to apply too much peppermint oil topically, as it’s pretty strong! Start with a small amount and work your way up if you aren’t feeling the benefits.

10. Cayenne pepper

Caliente.

If you like hot foods, you’re in luck. You can reap major health benefits while you sweat it out.

According to Well+Good, cayenne pepper can boost your metabolism, clear congestion, and relieve back pain. Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, founder of BZ Nutrition,  said capsaicin, the compound that makes the chili peppers hot, is the reason why these health benefits occur. It’s an antioxidant and is able to thin out mucus. Fun.

11. Holy basil

Bless this herb.

While holy basil might not be as familiar as the rest of the healing herbs and spices on this list, that doesn’t mean you need to shun it from your repertoire. This magical plant has been used in Ayurvedic medicine and is considered a sacred plant by Hindus.

So what’s so great about it? Well, according to Healthline, it can protect your stomach by minimizing stomach acid, and it can lower your cholesterol and blood sugar. Plus, it also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which is perfect for infections and wounds.

12. Coriander

These leafy greens mean business.

Coriander aka cilantro might be tasty on its own, but it sure knows how to heal your body. It’s packed with protective phytochemicals, magnesium, and manganese.

But that’s not all. It’s widely used for digestive issues, such as loss of appetite, nausea, and intestinal gas. Add this herb to your rice or simply eat it on its own. Either way, you can’t go wrong by adding it to your diet.

13. Oregano

Add it to your pizza. That counts, right?

Even though you’re probably used to seeing this herb in a pizza joint, that doesn’t mean it’s low in benefits. Actually, this guy is rich in antioxidants, has antibacterial properties, and may even reduce viral infections.

So the next time you’re thinking of sprinkling parmesan on your pizza, opt for oregano instead. (Or do both, because, you know, cheese).

14. Fenugreek

The name is weird, but trust, it’s powerful.

Fenugreek is an herb that is similar to clover. While it’s a very popular ingredient in Indian food, you can also use it for potato or barbeque dishes. It contains biotin, vitamin A, iron, and soluble and insoluble fiber.

Also, it’s extremely beneficial for mothers who want to breastfeed their children, as it can help with milk production.

15. Black pepper

Long live this kitchen staple.

The good news is you probably already use this spice all the time. Even better news? It’s packed with a lot of essentials your body needs.

For instance, black pepper, when mixed with oregano, rosemary, and other herbs in an equal spice-to-meat ratio, can lower carcinogens–cancer-causing chemicals–that are found in meat when cooked on an extremely hot grill or stove, according to a study.

It can also help prevent free radical damage to your cells and boost the absorption of other nutrients (hello, turmeric!).

What healthy spices and herbs are a staple in your kitchen? We want to know.