Did you know that the herbs and spices that you use in your everyday cooking could actually be helping to improve your health?
Whether you enjoy experimental cooking, or sticking to the recipes you know and love, it’s likely that you have a selection of herbs (plants with culinary, cosmetic, or medicinal use) and spices (made from the seeds, berries, bark or roots of a plant) in your kitchen cupboards- but, did you know that a lot of them could be helping to boost your health in different ways?
In this blog post, we’ll be listing a selection of well-known herbs and spices and the medicinal properties they hold, so next time you’re cooking up that curry or spaghetti bolognese, you may find yourself reaching for those forgotten jars at the back of the cupboard!
Going well with Chicken, Beef, Pork and Duck, Sage is a herb that is easily introduced into family meals. The plant gets its name from the Latin word Salvere, which means ‘to save,’- hinting at the medicinal properties it holds.
Research into Sage has shown that it may be used to improve brain function, especially in those with Alzheimer’s disease. The disease means a person’s acetylcholine (a chemical messenger in the brain) levels drop, and Sage can be used to prevent this unwanted break down.
Other studies have also shown that sage can help to improve a person’s memory, both in those young and old.
Cinnamon is a spice with strong antioxidant activity, shown to help fight inflammation and has been proven to lower cholesterol and triglycerides (stored in fat cells) in the blood.
Another of Cinnamon’s benefits is in its ability to lower blood sugar through a number of methods, including by slowing the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract and improving insulin sensitivity.
Research has found that cinnamon can lower fasting blood sugars by 10-29% in diabetic patients, which is a significant amount
Peppermint is a very well known herb, used often in the brewing of peppermint tea, or included in desserts for a fresh, minty flavour. As well as tasting amazing, the herb has been shown to treat a wide variety of ailments, including nausea, IBS, bloating, depression related anxiety and the common cold.
In a study carried out on over 1,100 women in labor, peppermint aromatherapy caused significant reductions in nausea, and many studies have shown that peppermint oil can improve pain management in IBS.
Ginger, used equally in savoury and sweet foods is said to have a calming effect on the lining of the digestive system, proven to ease nausea and morning sickness.
There have even been studies to show that ginger may play a role in preventing diseases like cancer, with subjects at risk of colon cancer finding that 2 grams of ginger extract per day decreased markers for colon inflammation in the same way as aspirin
A beautifully scented herb that works perfectly with chicken dishes, Rosemary is a plant that shouldn’t be underestimated, with even the scent said to be good for improving health.
Rosemary is rich in antioxidants that prevent cell damage. One study found that those who inhaled the scent of the herb performed better on memory tasks and other mental tests, compared to those who didn’t.
Besides mental benefits, the herb has also been shown to supress allergic responses and to prevent nasal congestion, with a recent study showing that those on dosages of Rosmarinic Acid were shown to suppress allergy symptoms. The number of immune cells in nasal mucus also decreased in the subjects, with reduced congestion as a result.
Tumeric is a spice that receives a lot of attention, and for good reason- it contains a certain compound called Curcumin which is proven to have medicinal properties and is a very powerful antioxidant.
Research has shown that Curcumin helps to ease inflammation and can help to ease pain. It has also been claimed that eating even small amounts of Tumeric on a regular basis can help prevent or slow down Alzheimer’s disease
Parsley, most commonly seen in the French curly-leaf and Italian flat-leaf variety, is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean. It’s another herb that is rich in antioxidants, also containing vitamins A and C, and the chemical apigenin, which has claimed to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in several studies.
It has also been proven that the plant can have positive effects on heart and eye health, reducing the risk of high blood pressure and helping to promote healthy vision.
Do you include these herbs and spices in your diet?
Have you learnt something new about the herbs and spices you have tucked away in your kitchen cupboards? Let us know over on social media!
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