We use herbs and spices to give our meals a flavor boost but did you know that they also offer excellent health benefits? They are a rich source of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and hold unique medicinal properties.
All herbs and spices are plant materials which have unique properties and health benefits to offer. These benefits include anti inflammatory, anti aging and weight loss.
In fact herbs and spices are one of the most potent natural sources of antioxidants available. Polyphenol antioxidants can reduce inflammation by bonding free radicals in the body. There is potential for these antioxidants to have anti aging effects on the skin. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods found correlations between the phenol content in spices and its ability to inhibit glycation and the toxic end products which made phenols an effective preventer of heart disease and premature aging effects.
For example cinnamon has phenol levels of 18% of dry weight. Compare that to antioxidant super-food blueberries which have a phenol level of 5% of dry weight.
Certain herbs and spices can also help you maintain a healthy weight by boosting your metabolism and promoting weight loss.
See the list below for 10 great herbs and spices:
Ginseng is a species of slow growing perennial plants. The herb we use is the fleshy root of this plant which is dried and used in teas, cooking or sometimes energy drinks. Ginseng’s benefits include boosting energy levels and speeding up your metabolism. The Panax Ginseng species has correlations with weight loss benefits. A study where obese, diabetic mice were given panax ginseng extracts for 12 days resulted in significant weight loss and an improvement in their insulin sensitivity.
- Cayenne Pepper
Capsaicin is the compound that gives cayenne peppers its spicy flavor. This is a thermogenic substance which causes a temporary increase in your natural thermogensis process. This is where your body is burning through its energy stores to create heat – in other words, using your stored heat as energy to warm your body. Research suggests that the consumption of thermogenic foods can boost your metabolism by up to 5% and increase fat burn by up to 16%.
Spicy foods have also been known to trigger feelings of fullness and satiety meaning you will eat less, aiding in weight loss goals.
We’ve already discussed how cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant but this spice also has benefits from boosting your metabolism as well as blood sugar regulation.
Studies using cinnamon have found that it reduces blood sugar levels, LDL cholesterols and triglycerides in those with type two diabetes. Cinnamon was also found to increase glucose metabolism by 20 times to normal rate which is a significant indicator around your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. This is great news for diabetics who should consider eating cinnamon or taking a supplement to benefit their overall health.
Proper regulation of blood sugar helps with weight loss and maintenance as high blood sugars result in extra insulin in the blood. This promotes the storage of fat, particularly around the stomach area.
- Black Pepper
Black Pepper has a variety of health benefits. The main flavor of black pepper comes from a compound called piperine which also inhibits the formation of new fat cells. Black pepper also has the capsaicin compound that cayenne pepper has, which boosts your metabolism. Studies have shown that consumption of black pepper extracts have burnt as many calories as a 20 minute walk.
On top of those benefits, black pepper increases the bio-availability of nutrients in other foods. This refers to how well your body can absorb the various vitamin and minerals in your food so this makes black pepper a wonderfully healthy addition to your diet.
The mustard plant is a species in the cruciferous family which also includes Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli. It’s the mustard seed holds the most valuable health benefits. Those seeds can boost your overall metabolic rate by 25% resulting in a more effective rate of burning calories. 3/5th’s of a teaspoon of mustard seeds each day can increase your calorie burned by 45 calories per hour.
Turmeric is the yellow-orange colored spice often found in curry based dishes. The active compound in turmeric is called curcumin and holds a variety of health benefits. Studies have shown it reduces the formation of fat cells and tissues by stemming the blood vessels needed to build the fat tissue. Turmeric can help prevent body fat percentages and overall weight gain
The curcumin compound is also helpful in treating obesity related chronic illnesses like insulin resistance, hyperglycemia and other inflammatory symptoms. Curcumin interacts with specific proteins in certain cells to suppress transduction pathways in the body which can reverse the symptoms listed above. See here for the study source.
Dandelions were once a popular edible plant, known for its nutritional benefits however it doesn’t tend to be eaten any more. You can actually eat all parts of the dandelion plant. The plant is extremely high in fiber, meaning it slows your digestion which helps you feel fuller for longer. This prevents overeating and helps with weight loss.
The Dandelion plant also contains therapeutic compounds like Taraxacin, Taracerin, inulin and levulin. These compounds are a diuretic and cleanse the liver.This plant is high in vitamins and minerals like beta carotene and vitamin K1 which normalize blood sugar and reduce cholesterol.
Ginger is another spice which has thermogenic properties, like cayenne and black pepper. This can boost your metabolism and encourages higher caloric burn. Ginger can also help to soothe and relax your digestive tract, hence why we drink ginger teas when we have an upset stomach. Using this spice more regularly can help you with weight management.
This is an aromatic spice with a spicy but slightly sweet flavor. It is popular in the Ayurveda system of holistic and natural healing originating from India. Once again this is a thermogenic herb to support your immune system.
Cumin is a delicious spice with a long history of medicinal uses. Cumin helps support your digestion and can improve glycemic control for those with type 2 diabetes.
Cumin inhibits weight gain because it is high in Phytosterols – a naturally occurring substance that is similar to cholesterol in its function and structure. Therefore it prevents the absorption of harmful cholesterols through your digestive tract. This is the reason given for its weight loss effect.