I work with a lot of people who are looking for ways to boost their wellness. They all want the latest and greatest nutrition information to help ramp up their wellness program. That’s when I tell them about my secret wellness weapon – herbs and spices. Adding herbs and spices to your meals can really take your program to the next level. Here’s how:
Like fruits and vegetables, different herbs and spices offer different phytonutrients, so I always recommend mixing them up to get a wide variety. Keep polyphenol-rich herbs like basil, mint and rosemary on hand and toss them into salads, vegetable dishes and sauces. And use herbs and spices liberally in grill marinades.
A recent study by the Department of Agriculture found that, ounce for ounce, some herbs and spices have more antioxidant activity than many fruits and vegetables. Foods high in antioxidants often have beneficial polyphenols that can turn on healthy genes or turn off disease promoting genes. More research needs to be done on humans, but the preliminary research on animals has been very promising.
Here are a few of my favorite herbs and spices. Try to add these to your meals.
Ginger: Two small studies showed that when combined with other herbs, ginger lowered inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Ginger is also loaded with polyphenols and it may help prevent E. coli infection and is a famously good stomach soother.
Turmeric: Turmeric contains the polyphenol, curcumin, which is what is believed to provide the health benefits that reduce inflammation and the incidence of disease. Researchers are looking at it for possible Alzheimer’s disease prevention too, based on the fact that elderly people in India, who’ve consumed a lot of turmeric, have low rates of the disease. Additionally, turmeric has been shown to be beneficial in some people who have inflammatory conditions of the colon. Like other spices, it’s a potent antibacterial too. Turmeric is part of most curry blends and makes a great addition to soups.
Cinnamon: This sweet-hot spice may prove to be a secret weapon against diabetes and other conditions. A small study showed that a quarter to half a teaspoon daily — about what you’d put on oatmeal — lowered blood sugar by 20 percent and improved cholesterol levels. So far, other studies haven’t been as promising, but it’s easy and delicious enough to add to your repertoire, so why not?
So the next time you’re shopping for the latest and greatest gadget, don’t forget to pick up some powerfully healthy ingredients that have been around for thousands of years – herbs and spices.
Add them to your dishes and add some spice to your life. Enjoy!