“You just need to add some spice to your life. I mean herbs and spice!” I said the other day as I was ending a health coaching call with a client. We both giggled but I sure as hell meant it.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacity that herbs and spices have is without a doubt a powerful way to increase your health status. I’m talking huge boost in the nutritional quality of your diet without the calories.
For over ten thousand years, we have been using herbs and spices to flavor our foods and for their medicinal properties. With centuries of documentation, you just can’t make this stuff up!
Here’s my top favorites (although there are plenty others that I use):
Fresh ginger root is an absolute staple in my house. Not only does this incredible spice have the ability to relieve indigestion and nausea but it also has anti-inflammatory and immune enhancing properties.
Ways to use
Raw Ginger Root: I keep mine in the freezer and freshly grate it into soups, smoothies, juices, and dishes. You can also make a Fresh Ginger Root Tea that has a wonderful relaxing and soothing effect on the stomach.
Powdered Ground Ginger: This is probably the easiest way to consume this spice. You can use this in baking, cooking (especially curries), or even smoothies for a quick boost.
This Mediterranean spice is most known for its perfect paring with meats or potatoes. Rosemary contains the polyphenol (phytochemical that has antioxidant properties), carnosol, which has been studied extensively for its anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
If you would like to read more about carnosol and its benefits, I recommend this manuscript that was written in Cancer Letters in 2012.
Ways to use
Fresh or Dried Rosemary: This herb pairs great with lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, red/white potatoes, sweet potatoes, mix in homemade bread or infuse in some Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
This sweet and warm spice truly steals my heart every single day. This spice is also probably the most popular among people due to its versatility. When it comes to medicinal properties of cinnamon, there are many: anti-microbial, regulation of blood glucose and blood pressure, anti-inflammatory activity and also wound healing properties.
Make sure you are using true cinnamon – which is Ceylon Cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is cheaper and has higher levels of coumarin, which has negative effects on the liver.
Ways to use
Ceylon Powdered Cinnamon: In smoothies, sweet or savory dishes, oatmeal, coffee, lattes, soups, rice dishes – the possibilities are endless here!
This common Mediterranean herb has some serious benefits! According to Dr. Mercola, not only is oregano chocked full of immune boosting properties, there is also antiviral, anti-fungal and cancer-fighting activity.
Ways to use
Dried and Fresh Oregano: Among the few – pasta dishes, soups, eggs, potatoes, meats, dressings, marinades and teas. One of my favorite dishes is this Ultimate Vegetable Lasagne.
Do you remember when Beyonce did the Master Lemonade Cleanse that had the concoction of cayenne pepper, lemon, maple syrup and water? Now, you guys know that I would never recommend anything of that sorts, but the cayenne pepper I sure do!
Spicy peppers are full of capsaicin, which not only provides the heat in pepper but is the compound that gives peppers their numerous beneficial qualities. Dr. Axe runs through 15 Cayenne Pepper Benefits that will knock your socks off and you will make sure you always have some cayenne in the house.
Ways to use:
Fresh, Dried, or Powdered: I absolutely love using both dried and powdered cayenne in egg dishes, marinades, curries, salad dressings, in my lacto-fermented veggies or homemade hot chocolate (oh no she didn’t!) for a nice kick. This is a great versatile spice but keep in mind that a little goes a long way.
ok, maybe one more special spice for good luck……
TURMERIC (aka curcumin plus black pepper)
I bet you were waiting patiently for this one. I mean with all the amazing benefits how could this spice not be on the list?! It has to be.
This bright yellow spice not only makes a mean curry but is powerful. Powerful in the sense of almost magical powers. I always save the best for last.
Turmeric’s active substance, curcumin, has anti-inflammatory properties that are so strong and I have personally seen clients throw away their ibuprofen when incorporating this spice properly into their routine. Liberating!
So black pepper….why? Black pepper contains a compound called piperine which has been proven to boost the availability of curcumin by up to 2,000%. Turmeric and black pepper are surely a dynamic duo – so make sure to use them together. Check out this video from NutritionFacts.org .
If you suffer from joint issues or are an athlete or an active person that has continued joint stress, I always recommend USANA’s Procosa. This top selling supplement not only includes glucosamine, but it also contains Vitamin C and Meriva® , a patented form of highly bioavailable curcumin. This combination together not only promotes joint comfort but helps support joint health with additional antioxidant protection.
If you want to dig deeper into the benefits of curcumin, there is a large portal, Turmeric for Health, that is loaded with good information.
Ways to use:
Ground or Fresh Turmeric: Have you ever tried a Turmeric Tea or Turmeric Latte? Turmeric can be easily incorporated into many dishes – curries, rice, soup, smoothies, eggs, potato dishes, teas and lattes.
Note: Be careful with this spice, as it will stain your fingers, clothes, kitchen towels and possibly countertops!
Well, that’s a wrap!
So get spicy…..and herby (that sounds a bit strange) – but you know exactly what I mean.