When you think of herbs or spices, what comes to mind? Is it that neglected spice rack that got shoved into the back of your pantry after a White Elephant gift swap? While most of us know the power of eating a healthy diet, we may not understand just how impactful adding herbs and spices can be for our overall well-being. In fact, just a sprinkle of these can add a whole bunch of magic to everyday cooking.
Your grandmother’s medicine cabinet
While we think of medicine cabinets as being those bathroom catch-alls filled with aspirin, Tums, and a myriad of orange prescription bottles, our relatives in the not-so-distant past would go to their kitchen pantries to help them with any pressing ailments. That is because herbs and spices don’t just have the power to make our food taste great, they also help prevent and treat many of today’s common conditions. Although you can’t substitute good quality medical care with a jar, using herbs and spices to help support your health journey is a great way to bring your body back into balance.
This one isn’t just a delicious addition to your pumpkin spice latte. Cinnamon is a popular addition to many baked goods because of its delicious flavor, yes, but it is also a powerful healing spice. In fact, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels and slow the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract, improving outcomes for those with insulin sensitivity and diabetes. It can also bring relief to those suffering from digestive upsets, gas, diarrhea, colds, and flu. Best of all? It is mild and has no side effects when consumed in moderation. Ready to add more cinnamon into your routine? Try these honey cinnamon roasted sweet potato cubes or apple cinnamon oatmeal breakfast cookies.
Besides being a darling of savory dishes such as pot roast and roasted chicken, rosemary comes to the table bearing rosmarinic acid, a substance shown to suppress allergic reactions and nasal congestion. These anti-inflammatory effects mean it works well for colds, too. And don’t forget, like most herbs, rosemary also boasts antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Rosemary makes a lovely essential oil that is great for aromatherapy and treating viruses that cause respiratory and nasal congestion. You can also consume rosemary tea which has a nice, savory flavor and works well alongside local honey for sore throats or mid-winter pick-me-ups.
Garlic is used in dishes from all over the globe and not only lends a delicious flavor but also potent health benefits. Allicin, the compound responsible for garlic’s smell, is also the reason why it is so beneficial for our health. Garlic is a master of fending off a variety of viral and bacterial infections. Adding more fresh garlic to your diet could help your immune system kick those icky germs this season. On top of that, garlic can help to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, making it a star of heart health. Whip up some pesto or pasta sauce, or include garlic in your next pot of soup to boost your immune system this season.
This spice is another biggie when it comes to proven health benefits. Ginger has strong anti-inflammatory properties that can help with pain management almost as well as aspirin in some cases. This herb also kicks nausea and tummy troubles to the curb. Those who are experiencing morning sickness, nausea due to chemotherapy, and even sea sickness can all rely on ginger to set their bellies right. Ginger tea is a great way to sip on some relief, but you can also find ginger chews or candies at many drugstores. If you want to add more of this culinary star into your cooking, try whipping up this thai stir fry that includes both garlic and ginger and a whole bunch of veggie goodness.
While you should always consult your doctor before trying any new health regimen, traditionally speaking, herbs and spices are a safe way to support your health and well-being. By incorporating some of these common (yet super!) herbs and spices into your diet, you can take charge of your wellness to reap the benefits of a healthier body and mind this winter.