7 Healthiest Spices and Herbs

healthiest spices photo

The healthiest spices and herbs also happen to be among the most flavorful, and that’s a wonderful thing. Cooking healthy doesn’t have to be drab, tasteless and boring. When you add spices to your recipes, you’re adding a whole lot more than flavor – you’re adding a heaping helping of good medicine.

In the very realest sense of the word, food is medicine. What you eat — and don’t eat — directly affects your health. The very best thing you can do to keep yourself and your family healthy is to make sure they get plenty of healthy nutrients with their meals while avoiding loading up their foods with unhealthy fats, sugars and salt.  Learn to cook with these 7 health-enhancing spices and herbs and you’ll be teaching them lifelong lessons in cooking and eating good food.

Photo by SaucyGlo


garlic photo

Garlic may be one of the healthiest spices we commonly use. It’s good for your cardio health and may help regulate the number fat cells in your body. There’s evidence that it can help keep your blood pressure in check, and we know it’s an anti-inflammatory. To get the most benefit from garlic, let it sit for a while after you chop it and before you add it to your recipe, and try to include 1/2 clove per serving or 1-2 cloves in your entire recipe.
Photo by photofarmer
Try it in:

Garlic Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Tasty red potatoes seasoned with garlic and rosemary are a warm and filling breakfast side dish - or a delicious side for any dinner menu.

Dandelion Greens with Garlic and Toasted Almonds

Get a triple helping of healthy ingredients in this wilted salad. The natural sweetness of roasted garlic offsets the bitterness of the dandelion greens and the almonds and olive oil add a sumptuous richness that's hard to resist.

Garlicky Popcorn Snack

Substitute olive oil for the butter, and use it to saute garlic before popping your corn. Healthy garlic and olive oil popcorn is a tasty and healthy alternative to high-fat game-day snacks.


basil photo

Basil adds a subtle but unmistakable tang to your recipes. It works with vegetables, meats, fish, dairy products, eggs and legumes — in fact, nearly any savory dish benefits from the addition of basil. It makes our list of 7 healthiest spices and herbs because it kills bacteria, helps protect cell structure and DNA, fights inflammation, supports healthy cardiovascular function and is an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese, as well as a good or very good source of  copper, vitamin C, calcium, iron, folate and omega-3 fatty acids.
Photo by lowjumpingfrog

Try it in:


Classic Pesto Recipe

Spicy, savory and sharp all at once, pesto is one of the most popular Italian herb dishes of all time. Enjoy it on toast or as a sandwich spread to add some high-quality protein and energy to your daily intake.

Pistachio Pesto Recipe

Try this tasty twist on the classic Italian condiment, using pistachios instead of the traditional pine nuts. Pistachios pack in an extra antioxidant wallop with the addition of vitamin E (about 23 g per 100 g serving) and B complex vitamins, as well as boosting the mineral content of your pesto with copper, manganese, calcium, iron, selenium and magnesium. Photo: bloggyboulga

Caprese Tomato Basil Salad

Fresh basil, tangy tomatoes and rich, homemade mozzarella meld their flavors in a classic Italian insalata. It only takes minutes to throw together, and it gets better as the flavors blend.

Canelle Cinnamomum verum Luc Viatour crop1
Foter / CC BY-SA


One of the world’s favorite “sweet” spices, cinnamon comes with a whole raft of health benefits. Over the years, numerous studies have shown that cinnamon can lower LDL cholesterol, help regulate blood sugar and may even help relieve arthritis pain. It fights E. coli as well as other bacteria responsible for food spoilage. In addition, cinnamon may stop yeast infections and prevent leukemia and lymphoma cells from reproducing.

When it comes to antioxidant activity, cinnamon ranks high among the healthiest spices. In fact, the popular baking spice prevents oxidation better than anise, ginger, licorice, nutmeg, vanilla and the most common chemical food preservatives. Even the aroma of cinnamon is beneficial. Researchers in Sarasota, Florida found that the scent of cinnamon seemed to improve attention, working memory, visual motor speed and virtual recognition memory. As little as 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon a day can provide many of these benefits.

Add Cinnamon to Your Diet

Roasted Squash and Cinnamon CousCous

The buttery flavor of roasted squash takes on a hearty savor with the addition of cinnamon. =TheKitchn;com

Pork Loin Chops with Cinnamon Apples

Warm and spicy, cinnamon really shines in savory dishes. The tang of apples and the richness of pork are the perfect foils for its piquant goodness.

Cinnamon Honey Grapefruit

A simple and elegant starter for your day. Simply sprinkle cinnamon over sliced grapefruit and drizzle with honey. The secret is letting the flavors marry overnight.



turmeric photo

Pungent, peppery and warm, turmeric is the spice that gives curry its bright yellow color. Curcumin, the pigment in turmeric, is an anti-inflammatory that works as well as hydrocortisone and ibuprofen, without the dangerous side effects. In studies, researchers have found that curcumin may be a safe and effective way to reduce the symptoms of colitis, relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, lower cholesterol, improve liver function slow the progress of atherosclerosis. It has also been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth, and it may help prevent prostate, breast and colon cancer, especially when combined with cruciferous vegetables. Finally, the curcumin found in turmeric may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors have found that turmeric is safe when taken in very large amounts, but you don’t need to eat a lot of it to benefit from its protection. The amounts present in a typical curry recipe is more than enough to provide health benefits.

Photo by Steven Jackson

Healthy Recipes with Turmeric

Anti-Inflammatory Frozen Watermelon Pineapple Smoothie

Surprisingly delicious and unexpected, turmeric adds a warm kick to a frozen watermelon-pineapple smoothie.

Baked Curry Sweet Potato Fries

These healthy sweet potato fries get a warm, smoky tang -and a healthy boost from Turmeric.

Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric

Skip the gloppy cheese sauce and try this healthy roasted and spiced treatment for cauliflower. =Food Network



ginger photo

Ginger has long been regarded one of the world’s healthiest spices. Prized both for its pungent flavor and for its health benefits, ginger is part of the healing traditions in both Indian and Chinese traditional medical systems. It has been used to reduce nausea and gastrointestinal discomfort, and is more effective in preventing motion sickness than Dramamine. Ginger is also considered a safe and very effective treatment for morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy. Researchers have found that adding ginger to your diet can help reduce swelling and relieve the pain associated with arthritis and muscular inflammations, and may help boost your immune system by providing natural supports. In addition, ginger seems to protect against colorectal and ovarian cancer, as well as against staph, E. coli and candida albicans. Adding as little as 2/3 of an ounce of ginger to your food daily can help reduce inflammation and offer beneficial effects.

Photo by andresmh

Enjoy ginger in these recipes

Pineapple-Ginger Chicken

Not too sweet, not too spicy, these pineapple-ginger chicken breasts from Not Enough Cinnamon are absolutely just right for your healthy diet.

Homemade Ginger Ale

This quick-and-easy recipe is a refreshing way to add this healthy spice to your diet. Reduce the sugar to make it even healthier without reducing the flavor.

Ginger Ice Cream

A little sweet treat never hurt anyone, especially when it's made with fresh, natural ingredients that pack a healthy punch. Ginger ice cream is not your usual confection. The spiciness is blunted by sweet cream, but the flavor is still superb. =Fine Dining

Chili Peppers

cayenne photo

Like many of the healthiest spices and herbs, chili peppers contain a potent anti-inflammatory. Capsaicin has been used both internally and externally to help inhibit inflammation and reduce pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis and diabetic neuropathy. It is a medically recognized treatment for osteoathritis pain and may significantly delay the onset or progress of arthritis. Population-based studies have found lower rates of cardiovascular disease in cultures that use a lot of red chili peppers in cooking. In other research studies, scientists have found that a diet containing chili can significantly lower cholesterol, lower resting heart rate and increase the amount of blood reaching the heart. in addition, capsaicin can help reduce congestion, boost the immune system and may help stop the spread of prostate cancer. Finally, adding red chili pepper to your diet may increase metabolism and help regulate blood sugar levels, both of which can contribute to weight loss.

Photo by J. Chris Vaughan

Recipes with chili peppers

Rigatoni with Cayenne Prawns and Grilled Peppers

Double up on the health-giving benefits of chile peppers by dusting meaty shrimp with cayenne before grilling, and serving them with a rigatoni salad bursting with fresh red pepper flavor.

Ginger Habanero Jelly

Spicy-hot and doubly delicious, ginger-habanero jelly features two of our healthiest spices in one. It's a great topper for waffles and a delicious garnish with lamb, pork or beef.

Chili Pepper Jelly

We admit it - we've been in love with chili pepper jellies ever since we accidentally made a batch of strawberry chili jam. This chili pepper jelly from Chickens in the Road is an easy way to get started, even if you've never made jelly before.


sage photo

Sage livens your meals with a soft, savory flavor that enhances meats, fish, legumes and vegetables. Its volatile oils offer both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and can help reduce symptoms associated with inflammatory conditons like rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma and atherosclerosis. Laboratory research has found compounds in ssge that are similiar to compounds used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, which may explain why sage helps improve short term memory. It has antiseptic, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic actions, and is effective against staph, E. coli, salmonella and candida albicans. Sage can help reduce excessive sweating and has been used to treat menstrual irregularity and some of the symptoms of menopause.

Photo by Living in Monrovia sage healthiest spices article

Recipes with sage

Cannellini Beans with Garlic and Sage

Packed with protein and antioxidants, this delicious bean soup is aromatic with garlic and sage. It takes a little time to cook, but it's more than worth the wait. =Epicurious

Cavatappi Pasta Salad with Walnut Sage Pesto

Sub this out for your usual pasta salad and score a home run at your next family barbecue. The walnut sage pesto is a refreshing twist on the usual mayo, and the cavatappi are perfectly shaped to hold the sauce.

Sweet Potato and Turnip Mash with Sage

Sweet potatoes don't need added butter and brown sugar to be tasty. This recipe adds the tang of turnips and the savory flavor of fresh sage for a delicious new twist on a holiday table favorite. =Eating Well


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Posted in Heal by Deb Powers on April 3rd, 2014 at 3:15 pm.

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