I love the power of herbs and spices, not only adding punchy flavours, enhancing meals but they pack a powerful antioxidant punch too with surprisingly extensive health benefits.
Some of my favourites for their health benefits are; Cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, sage, rosemary, mint. They are so easy to grow and include in a variety of ways that I wanted to share the benefits of these so you can reap the rewards of their health benefits and feel confident on how and where to add them with my free downloadable Herb & Spices Guide.
CINNAMON for Glucose Control
CINNAMON: Benefits: blood sugar control, sugar cravings, anti-inflammatory, high blood pressure. Wonderful added to hot drinks, porridge, smoothies, curries and stews. I especially love cinnamon with sweet potato.
Cinnamon has been shown to reduce some of the bad effects of eating high-fat foods when used as part of an overall healthy eating, weight loss plan. Its effect on blood glucose levels can also help your body ultimately lose weight.
Results from a clinical study published in the Diabetes Care journal in 2003 demonstrates that cassia cinnamon (cinnamon bark) improves blood glucose and cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The study demonstrated that a daily intake of just 1, 3, or 6 grams was shown to reduce serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL (bad cholesterol) and total cholesterol after 40 days among 60 middle-aged diabetics. In addition, another 2007 study showed that 6g of cinnamon slows stomach emptying and significantly reduces hyperglycemia after meals without affecting satiety.
This is why cinnamon is used in many diabetic studies and why it is included in many weight loss supplements; because of its ability to stabilise blood sugar levels. You can find out more about cinnamon’s use to help weight loss in my Cinnamon blog.
GINGER for Digestion
GINGER: Great for; Digestion, Bile flow, reducing bloating/gas, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, reduces nausea, cold/flu. I grate mine into a mug of hot water with lemon and cayenne pepper, and I have this every morning without fail! It is also fab in stir-fry, curry, and added to sauerkraut/kimchi.
Nausea, retching and vomiting are very commonly experienced by women in early pregnancy.
Bioactive compounds within the rhizome of ginger, particularly the gingerol and shogaol, interact with several pathways that are directly implicated in exacerbating symptoms. These special antiinflammatory properties of ginger are able to modulate vasopressin an antidiuretic hormone that increases blood flow to the heart and brain, Ginger is well known to improve digestion, increases bile flow and can calm an upset tummy. This is due to its ability to modulate gastrointestinal motility, and gastric emptying rate.
TURMERIC for Inflammation
TURMERIC: Known to reduce inflammation it is helpful in arthritis, liver cleansing, colds, infections, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol. Add to hot drinks, curries, smoothies, soups.
Turmeric, a spice that has long been recognised for its medicinal properties, has received interest from both the medical/scientific world and from culinary enthusiasts, as it is the major source of the polyphenol curcumin. It aids in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia (high triglycerides/cholesterol). It may also help in the management of exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness, enhancing recovery and performance in very active people.
To make Curcumin more bio-available to us we can include additional compounds such as piperine; the major active component of black pepper and, when combined in a complex with curcumin, has been shown to increase bioavailability by 2000%.
Top tip if you are taking a Curcumin supplement; make sure you take it with food as it is a fat-soluble nutrient and requires some form of fat to be absorbed. Make sure your supplement contains piperine to improve its bioavailability. However, overall, making sure you are eating an anti-inflammatory diet – that is most important if you suffer with an inflammatory condition; you cannot supplement your way out of a bad diet.
SAGE for Hot Flushes
SAGE: Great for hot flashes, menopause symptoms – pop a couple of stalks with leaves into hot water to steep and sip. Two cups per day can really help!
ROSEMARY for joint/muscle aches and pains
ROSEMARY: Anti-inflammatory, sinus, asthma, arthritis, stiff joints, muscle pains. Use in hot water for inhalations and add to fish/chicken/bean/lentil dishes for anti-inflammatory herby kick.
PEPPERMINT for IBS
MINT : Reduces sugar cravings, inflammation, hot flashes, headaches, migraines, pain. Add to hot water and sip to calm upset tummy and reduce bloating/gas and add finely chopped to peas, new potatoes and beans for a lovely lift.
Peppermint has been shown to improve digestive issues from indigestion, bloating, flatulence and abdominal discomfort in IBS sufferers. In a meta-analysis using a supplement containing peppermint oil, participants found they had less symptoms including indigestion, heartburn, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea, abdominal pain significantly improving these symptoms by 60%-80%. To find out additional ways to improve your IBS symptoms you need to find the root cause, from my vast experience in this area there are a few key areas to consider.
Adding herbs and spices to meals is a great way to reduce inflammation, improve digestion and gut health whilst adding aromatic flavours, enhancing taste whilst improving your health. They don’t need to be fresh to get the benefits, dried herbs and spices are also great to keep in your cupboard and boost your meal with flavour.
Another top way to use up fresh herbs before they spoil is to finely chop and freeze into ice cube trays with a little water in each cube, just pop one or two out and add to your cooking towards the end. These also make a very pretty addition to a G&T oops! or a sparkling water ;-0
Which Herbs and Spices ?
I am often asked for quick and easy, healthy meals that still taste great and what herbs/spices go with which foods. The simple way to give any meal a lift is to add herbs and spices with a squeeze of lime or lemon and maybe a sprinkle of seaweed flakes and meals are taken to a different level.
By including herbs and spices we increase the antioxidant power of the meal. Dried and fresh herbs count towards your 7-a-day so add some parsley, dill, cayenne pepper, cinnamon to your meals this month
Some foods go particularly well with specific herbs/spices so it is worth knowing where each one will come in handy.
I have created this Herbs and Spices downloadable PDF for you, I hope you find it helpful.
Have fun with getting these healthy additions to your meals. For recipes and meal inspiration you can check out my recipe packs which do all the hardwork for you by showing you some really simple, nutritious and delicious recipes that everyone can enjoy.
Get 10% off your recipe pack of choice today use code EVIE10 at checkout. RECIPES