Adding herbs to your dishes is a great way to enhance your diet and the taste of your food. I have a small herb garden that I pick from daily to enhance the dishes I serve at my home. My favorite herbs include: basil, rosemary, peppermint & cilantro. My favorite spices are cinnamon and cayenne pepper. So why are these tasty add-in ingredients good for you? Check out why below:
1.) Holy basil helps fight infections while boosting your immunity! Holy basil is slightly different than thai basil or regular basil. Holy basil is a sacred herb in India. As it should be due to its healing powers! Basil inhibits the growth of molds, yeasts, and even some bacteria. I read some small studies that suggest it also boosts the immune system by increasing immune cells and reducing blood sugar levels while eating. To my surprise one small study also showed it helped with treating anxiety-related depression. Check out the links below from some studies:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8880292 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21619917 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9633630 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12732427 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8880292
2.) Rosemary helps with my allergies and can actually help prevent allergies and nasal congestion.The active ingredient, rosmarinic acid, has been shown to suppress allergy symptoms and reduce congestion by decreasing the number of immune cells in the nasal mucus membrane. Check out the link below from a supportive study:
3.) Peppermint is great but it is the oil in peppermint that has the benefits! You probably have heard or have seen peppermint oil. It has a long history of being used as aromatherapy and folk medicine. Studies have shown peppermint oil can help relieve pain due to irritable bowel syndrome by relaxing the smooth muscles in the colon. It also helps with the nagging abdominal bloating that is a very common digestive issue. It helps with all this and curves nausea. Using aromatherapy with peppermint oil helps a group of women after surgery and c-section births. Check the some of the studies below:
http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a2313 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21489690 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10784271 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9378876https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22034523
4.) Cilantro is a super packed leafy green with antioxidant power! The power in the cilantro is in its leaves (coriander). The leaves, stem, and root of cilantro have been found to have antiseptic and carminative properties. The herb contains phytochemical compounds; phenolic flavonoid antioxidants. The coriander seed oil has been used to help with digestion. It has also been used as a deodorant and for lipolytic (weight-loss) and stimulant impacts on the body. Check out what this little herb provides:
(% of RDA/100g)15% of folates, 11% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), 45% of vitamin C, 225% of vitamin A, 258% of vitamin K, 22% of iron and 18% of manganese. (Note: RDA-Recommended daily allowance).
5.) Cinnamon is my favorite spice to add to desserts. It has been shown to help lower blood sugar and has anti-diabetic influences. The impact compound found in cinnamon is called cinnamaldehyde which is responsible for the medicinal properties of cinnamon. Cinnamon helps lower inflammation of the body with has shown to help improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels in the blood. The impact cinnamon has on blood sugar levels is positively influenced because the cinnamon helps slow down the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract which helps with insulin sensitivity. Some studies have shown it can improve fasting blood sugar by upwards to 29% in diabetic patients. When you go to add cinnamon to your diet a good dose is .5-2 teaspoons a day.
Check out these links for more research information:
http://www.academicjournals.org/journal/AJBR/article-abstract/8D4DEA111465 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003790/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14633804 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18234131 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17381386https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16634838
6.) Cayenne Pepper helps reduce appetite and may fight cancer. The active ingredient to this spicy spice is called capsaicin. Capsaicin has been shown to lower appetite and burn fat. One study suggested adding 1 gram to your meal will help reduce appetite and increase fat burning. The kicker is this study showed this works for people who do not regularly eat peppers. So if you regularly eat spicy food you have have built a tolerance against its appetite suppressing effects, however you should not give up the spiciness of your food. This pepper has also been shown to combat certain forms of cancer like lung, liver and prostate cancer. Check out some of these studies below:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3022968https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22378725 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15611784 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24941669 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15182402 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16540674 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2519832 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8287380 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9137455
I encourage you to try out some new herbs and spices. They will add a kick to your diet and your taste buds. Please share with me your favorite herb or spice and recipe you enjoy it with!