Do you know about benefits of spices and herbs in your daily foods? Do you know how herbs and spices are important for cooking delicious meals? For a long time, they have been very highly appreciated, and they are part of numerous ancient traditions, which are usually still practiced today. The traditional cultures actually prize highly spices and herbs not only for their flavor but also for medicinal & healing properties spices & herbs bring to food. Recently, VKool.com made a detailed writing of benefits of spices and herbs in cooking food and simple ways to incorporate them into your cooking recipes. This writing is a collection of amazing benefits of spices & herbs as well as their uses in cooking food from reliable sources such as Web MD, Men’s Fitness, Nutrition and You, and other sources. Please make sure that you will consult with your medical practitioner before using the spices and herbs presented in this article.
Benefits Of Spices And Herbs & Their Uses In Cooking Food
1. Chili Pepper
Chilli pepper can be used in its fresh or dried form. Chili powder is a mixture of ground & dried chilies with other common ingredients such as cumin and garlic.
These ingredients are best used carefully as garnishing to bring the proper amount of heat; however, some chili peppers are milder & used in the greater quantity. When used fresh, the seeds are frequently removed because they are always too pungent and hot and the less pungent flesh as what is desired. Hot chili pepper should be treated with rubber cloves because the heat compounds may also burn the skin & eyes. Almost chili peppers are a great source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Red peppers contain vitamin C that are richer than their green counterpart. Note: People who are sensitive to the nightshade family of vegetables should avoid using chili peppers.
Chili pepper gets an impressive list of chemical compounds, which are known to help users prevent disease and promote health. Chili pepper is a family of numerous hot peppers of the nightshade family. It is used extensively in Mexican & Asian cuisines where it brings heat & pungency to daily meals. Some of the most famous chili peppers are the habaneros and the Jalapeño peppers.
2. Cayenne Peppers
Cayenne pepper is one of the health-benefiting spice items that are packed with vitamins, minerals, & certain phyto-nutrients. Cayenne peppers, guinea peppers or cow horn peppers, are a red spice and they are very hot. The fresh pepper can be used, but its most often found in a powdered & dried form. You should use it carefully because it is very hot & pungent. You can pair the use of fresh tasting herbs such as mint with a hot pepper such as cayenne to contrast hot & cool tastes. You can use dried cayenne peppers in stews, soups and sauces where heat is desired. Dried cayenne peppers are also great in marinades or dry rubs for chicken cooked on the grill.
Cayenne pepper is rich in anti-oxidant flavonoids (such as zea xanthin, carotenes, cryptoxanthin and lutein), manganese, vitamin C & vitamin B6. It helps to boost your immune system, boost liver functions, and improve your collagen synthesis in the body. People with a fragile or irritated digestive tract cannot consume some of hot peppers like cayenne. People who are sensitive to the nightshade family of vegetables should avoid using cayenne peppers.
Paprika contains capsaicin that has anti-inflammatory & antioxidant effects and helps lower the risk of cancer. The most popular form of paprika is smoked paprika. Paprika is a dark red powder that is obtained from chili peppers or dried bell peppers. This spice helps give a deep color and a sweet & smoked taste to dishes. In fact, this spice is milder & sweeter than cayenne pepper. You can use paprika in marinades for BBQ sauces or grilled meat or any other preparations that would benefit from a smoky flavor. In addition, this spice is often used simply as a garnishing to give color to dishes. This spice is high in vitamin C and it has antioxidant properties. People who are sensitive to the nightshade family of vegetables may not tolerate paprika.
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4. Fennel Seeds
Fennel symbolizes courage, longevity, and strength. This spice is great with pork and fish. Fennel, like cumin that is proven to help digestion and soothe stomach aches. It is often used in India after finishing a meal to settle the stomach.
In addition, a tea can be made with fennel seed to help relieve gasses. Fennel has health benefiting nutrients, anti-oxidants, essential compounds, dietary fiber, minerals & vitamins. As the name implies, fennel seed is the seed of the fennel bulb. Like anise or star anise, they feature a licorice flavor. It is mostly used in savory dishes. Fennel seed is very popular in Indian cooking and it is one of the main spices used in curries. It is often ground and can also be dry roasted before grinding it to enhance its flavor.
5. Cumin Seed
Cumin seeds contain a number of phyto-chemicals, which are known to have carminative, antioxidant & anti-flatulent properties. Cumin is very common in Indian cuisine where it is a major spice that is used in curries. Cumin is a pungent spice that people often use in savory & spicy dishes. It is also considered the second most popular spice in the world after black pepper.
Ground cumin is great when added to chillies, spicy stews, guacamole, or with shellfish. You may already be using cumin without knowing it because it is an important spice in blends such as curry powder, chili powder, and Garam Masala. To get the most advantage of this herb, you should try dry roasting it in a pan for a minute before grinding it to get an even more pronounced flavor. In addition, cumin is often used to help digestion and soothe stomach aches.
6. Star Anise
Star anise tea can help people with rheumatisms or with digestion. Star anise and anise take their licorice flavor from a compound called anethole. The flavor goes well to flavor stocks and meat stews, where it is removed at the end of the cooking process. It blends well with other spices like nutmeg and cinnamon because of its slightly sweet undertones. Use star anise with lacto-fermented vegetables or fruit preparations as a pickling spice along with ginger.
Star anise is very popular in Chinese cuisine and it is the main spice used in the Chinese 5 spice blend. Star anise is a fruit with a taste of licorice, somewhat like anise has. This fruit is often used in sweet dishes, and it is getting more and more popular for savory dishes.
Cloves will help you prevent gas and increase the hydrochloric acid in your stomach. This herb can help people with GERD reduce their symptoms dramatically. In addition, cloves can help people with toothache dealing with their toothache condition.
Cloves pair very well with fruits and especially citrus fruits such as clementines and oranges. They are often part of holiday traditions for Christmas and Thanksgiving where oranges are studded with cloves as a decoration. Cloves are most often used as studding for onions, meats or fruits because they flavor the food more efficiently. Cloves are an integral part of the Garam Masalam spice mixture and they are also often used alongside with cumin and cinnamon. Cloves are the dried flower bud of a tree of the Myrtaceae family. They feature a pungent fragrance and flavor that falls a bit on the sweet side.
Learn more: 16 Natural Herbs For Depression And Anxiety
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Nutmeg and mace spice contains a lot of plant-derived chemical compounds, which are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. Nutmeg is versatile for sweet & savory preparations and it is great with spinach & mashed root vegetables. Freshly grated nutmeg is also great on apple preparations and fruit salads.
Nutmeg has a warm and sweet taste and a small quantity is often all that is needed. It is best when bought whole and freshly grated when needed. Nutmeg has some antimicrobial properties against Streptococus mutans. It is also known for having psychoactive and potentially toxic effects in higher doses. Pregnant women do not use this herb with high doses.
Cinnamon has strong antioxidant properties and it has been found to help with insulin sensitivity. It can help people with digestive problems or diarrhea and it is often used to fight bad breath.
Cinnamon has a pungent & distinctive taste that is great for desserts. Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the inner bark of several trees. This spice is usually available as sticks that can be used whole to flavor liquids or ground to a powder. In addition, cinnamon is great as a spice for lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables.
Cinnamon can be used in savory dishes with success. It is also used in sweet preparations. Meat curries & stews are 2 examples where cinnamon is welcomed. In stews, the sticks can be left whole to flavor the liquid. Sprinkle ground cinnamon over baked or grilled apples and use whole cinnamon sticks to flavor a poaching liquid for fruits.
The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin that is a great natural anti-inflammatory compound. Curcumin is much better absorbed when consumed with piperine, a compound found in black peppercorns. Curcumin also has potential anticarcinogenic effects because of its ability to induce apoptosis on cancer cells.
Turmeric, also known as curcumin, is a rhizome of the ginger family. It is most often dried & ground to a bright orange powder and it is used expansively in Indian cuisine. It is highly prized for its hot peppery flavor, and for the bright color it gives to dishes.
Turmeric is widely used in curries and it is almost always a major part of curry powder. This ingredient can also be used to give a brighter yellow color to mustard preparations.
Dill is an herb with hundred of tiny leaves similar to fennel tops. In addition, dill features a mild & fresh taste. Dill is available dried and fresh and its seeds are often used as a spice for cooking foods. Dill is used expansively in eastern European cuisine. It also is popular in Greek cuisine.
Dill is a fragile herb and fresh dill is often used at the end of the cooking process or as garnishing. However, dill seeds may be used during the cooking process. Dill pairs very well with fish & cucumbers. Dill also goes really well with root vegetables. In addition, dill pickles are the most popular flavor of fermented cucumber. Furthermore, dill is great for lacto-fermenting vegetables. For example, Gravlax is a cured salmon that is often prepared with dill.
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Mint’s essential oil named menthol is widely used for breath freshening. This herb has soothing properties for the throat and mucus membranes. In addition, mint is effective for preventing itching from insect bites. Mint features a cool & refreshing taste. It is well known for its uses in candies and sweet preparations. Fresh mint is much more popular than dried mint. You can use it in desserts and use it with fruits. In desserts, mint goes really well when it is combined with vanilla or cinnamon.
Learn more: 35 Healthiest Fruits And Vegetables In The World
Chives are is high in vitamin C, iron & calcium. Chives feature some of the same health benefits as garlic. They also are less often used for their medicinal properties. Chive is the smallest member of the onion family. It features a light oniony taste and it is great for flavor and presentation. It is easy to grow in a home garden where it acts as insect repellent.
Chive has straw-like leaves, which are most often chopped & used as garnishing for stews, eggs, soups, and salads. You can use this herb by sprinkling some chopped chives on omelets or scrambled eggs, and then adding minced chives to a mayonnaise preparation for deviled eggs. In addition, you can add chopped chives to homemade vinaigrettes.
14. Bay Leaves
Bay leave is a great source of nutrients like many other herbs. Bay leaves have antibacterial, antifungal & antioxidant properties. Besides, this herb has been used for soothing stomach ulcers.
Bay leave is a shiny, stiff and bright green herb that is highly prized for its strong flavor. Bay leave is used expansively in Mediterranean cuisine in stuffings, soups, and stews. Bay leave features a very strong taste; therefore, it is used in limited amount. Bay leave is most often used to flavor liquids such as stocks and soups. It also is a main ingredient in a bouquet garnis. In addition, bay leave is almost always removed from the preparation at the end of the cooking process as it stays stiff through cooking and can cause choking if swallowed whole.
Marjoram is rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, iron & manganese. Marjoram has mild antioxidant & antifungal properties. In addition, marjoram tea can be used to ease congestion & hay fever. Leaves of marjoram are available fresh or dried. Marjoram also is extensively used in northern European cuisine. In addition, marjoram is another herb of the mint family with a taste similar to oregano, but slightly less pungent.
You can use this herb where you will also use oregano like with red meat, fish & tomatoes. You can use marjoram in egg & tomato salads. In addition, marjoram is great with vegetables like eggplants, carrots and beets.
Sage is very rich in magnesium, vitamin K, iron, calcium, and manganese. It also has antifungal & antimicrobial properties. In addition, sage has been used to control mild Alzheimer’s. Sage is another herb of the mint family with a slight peppery taste and furry leaves. Sage is used in large part in Italian and English cuisine.
Sage is excellence with a stuffing for poultry or with veal, pork & lamb. Besides, you can combine sage with starchy vegetables such as pumpkin and sweet potatoes. Garlic & tomatoes are 2 other items, which pair very well with sage. Furthermore, the addition of dried sage to pumpkin or mashed sweet potatoes is also great. With this herb, you can create a simple sauce for your meat by frying some sage leaves in tallow or clarified butter.
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Oregano has the highest antioxidant properties of 27 fresh culinary herbs. Oregano is another herb of the mint family. Oregano is used extensively in Italian and southern French cuisine. In addition, oregano is available fresh or dried and it is a close relative to marjoram, but features a stronger taste. Oregano is very rich in calcium, vitamin K, iron & manganese. It has also been found to have antimicrobial properties, especially against the foodborn Listeria monocytogenes.
The flavor of fresh oregano is quite pungent and a little goes a long way. It is great with red meat like beef and lamb and with fish. It can pair with tomatoes and oregano and it is often added to tomato sauces. The flavor of oregano also is blended well with black olives and bell peppers. You can use summer salads with dried oregano in vinaigrettes that feature Mediterranean flavors.
Learn more: Top 20 Best Natural Antibiotic Foods And Herbs
The essential oil found in thyme has antiseptic properties and it is used on wounds and toenail fungus. Besides, thyme is very rich in vitamin C, iron & manganese. A tea made by infusing a thyme tincture can be used to aid in dealing with respiratory infections. Thyme is a woody herb that is often used in a similar way as rosemary. In addition, thyme is available fresh or dried. Besides, fresh thyme sprigs are often used whole to flavor liquids.
While thyme has a very noticeable and distinct taste, it does not overpower other herbs and is suitable for a wide range of different preparations. In addition, thyme is great with meats suc as pork, beef & lamb and it is also great with fish. Mushrooms, carrots and leeks are some of the vegetables, which taste amazing with the addition of thyme. You can use thyme to flavor soups & stocks or add a pinch or 2 of dried thymes in mashed sweet potatoes or turnips.
Rosemary is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium and folate. It has strong antioxidant properties and it has compounds that help protect against free radicals. Some studies also shows that rosemary offers anti-carcinogenic properties.
Rosemary is an evergreen woody herb of the same family as mint and its leaves are needle-like. Rosemary is used extensively in Mediterranean cuisine and rosemary is one of the most popular herbs out there, available fresh or in a dried form. Rosemary has a slightly sweet, yet pungent piney taste.
Rosemary has quite a strong taste for an herb and is very well suited for meats, especially red meat like beef or lamb. Rosemary is also great when paired with garlic and thyme. You can try mincing the leaves of rosemary and adding them to marinades for lamb, pork or beef or simply place your meat on top of a few rosemary sprigs while it cooks. You also should try poking holes in a roast and then placing chopped rosemary springs in those holes.
Coriander leaves are a good source of vitamin K. It has antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Coriander is also used to cheat heavy metals out of the body.
Coriander is an herb that is used for its leaves or its dried fruit (coriander seeds). Coriander is used in the cuisine of many countries throughout the world, but Indian cuisine is probably the most well known for its use of coriander.
Coriander has a sweet flavor and has mild lemony undertones. Its taste is not too far from parsley’s taste and it is often called Chinese parsley. Ground coriander seeds and coriander leaves are 2 of the main spices used in Indian curries. Coriander is also enjoyed in stews and Asian flavored soups. It is also often used in Mexican cuisine and the addition of Coriander to salsa gives it a great and special taste.
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Parsley is very rich in vitamin K and vitamin C. Parsley acts as a diuretic that helps enhance manganese absorption. Besides, one of its essential oils named apiole is a kidney stimulant.
2 popular groups of parsley are curly leaf parsley and flat-leaf or Italian parsley. Parsley is a popular herb in American, European, and middle Eastern cuisine. It is also a popular culinary herb and it is readily available in grocery stores.
Parsley has a mild taste, which is great in salads and soups or with fish, poultry and eggs. It is also a great herb to add as garnishing on finished dishes. Parsley can also be used as part of a bouquet garnis to flavor stocks. Pregnant women should avoid consuming large amounts of parsley because it has uterotonic effects
Basil is very rich in vitamin K and manganese. The essential oil in basil has been found to contain anticancer, antioxidant, antiviral & antimicrobial properties.
Basil is an herb of the same family as mint and it shares some of its cool and refreshing taste. It is often used broadly in Italian & Southeast Asian cuisine. Fresh basil is by far the preferred form, but a dried form is also available. Fresh basil is the main ingredient in pesto and it is great in salads and tomato sauces. You can use basil in vinaigrettes and add it to homemade mayonnaise for a great sauce with fish. In addition, basil leaves can be blanched in boiling water and then frozen for later use because fresh basil will keep only for some days in the refrigerator.
Ginger has generally recognized as safe and it is often used to help reduce digestive upsets such as flatulence, diarrhea & nausea. In addition, ginger is efficient as a general digestive tonic because it can increase bile production.
Ginger can help decrease motion sickness & nausea. In addition, it can relieve pain & swelling associated with arthritis. Ginger is a tuber and it is part of the Zingiberaceae family, together with cardamom and turmeric. Ginger is quite pungent and dried, fresh or preserved ginger is often used in sweet & savory dishes. In addition, it is a major component of Asian cuisine. Ginger is great in stir-fries and other Asian dishes and it has a hot, sweet and citrusy taste. It is popular as a tea and it can agreeably flavor lacto-fermented vegetables. It is often seen in combination with hot peppers. In addition, it is most often used fresh in a grated or minced form, but the dried powdered form is the preferred form in baked goods like cookies or cakes. Young ginger root is quite juice. Besides, fresh grated ginger may be pressed to reach a flavorful & pungent liquid to flavor food.
Garlic helps destroy cancer cells and it can help disrupt metabolism of tumor cells. Garlic is known as a bulb of the onion family along with leeks, shallots, and chives. The garlic bulb is composed of multiple cloves that are wrapped in a papery skin, which is often removed. It has a very pungent taste and it is highly appreciated in savory dishes & condiments. It can be used raw, roasted or fried and it is extensively used in Asian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Raw garlic can be quite pungent; therefore, it is often cooked in some ways for better appreciation. It is also available in a powdered form or combined with salt and it is used mainly in savory dishes. In addition, it is rarely, if ever, seen in desserts. In Mediterranean cuisine, garlic is often paired with rosemary, thyme, or other woody herbs. Garlic gains pungency when cut finely or chewed so minced garlic will be more pungent than sliced garlic. The whole bulb can also be roasted and it will be milder in taste. Besides, garlic is great to flavor vinaigrettes, marinades, and sauces and it goes very well with red meat & vegetables. In addition, you can add garlic flavor to red meat by rubbing a cut-out clove over the meat while it is cooked. Garlic has antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties and this herb is used effectively to deal with infections and colds. It is also studied for its anticancer properties and its ability to help prevent heart disease. Furthermore, garlic is a good source of vitamin C & vitamin B6 and it has been used to cure scurvy. Note: some people who are allergic to it cannot use it because they can experience irritable bowel, nausea or diarrhea from consuming it.
Learn more: Health Benefits Of Garlic To The Human Body
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25. Black pepper
Black pepper has a strong pungent flavor, which comes to it from volatile-oils such as piperine. It helps increase the gut motility and the digestion power by boosting the gastro-intestinal enzyme secretion. Besides, black pepper is a fruit, which is dried & used as a spice.
Black pepper is used expansively in modern cuisine and it is part of the basic seasoning, along with salt. It is used to bring boldness, spiciness, heat & woody undertones to food. It is highly prized in savory dishes and it is especially well suited for spicy dishes and red meat. Black pepper has been shown to have the antioxidant properties; however, its consumption needs to be limited in people with a fragile & irritated digestive system or ulcers because it can be irritating. Piperine that is found in black pepper can help enhance the absorption of selenium, curcumin, and B vitamins and it can help accelerate energy metabolism.
Salt is highly prized for its food preservation & flavor enhancement properties. Besides, it is essential to animal life. It has the ability to preserve food that made it become ideal to travel longer distances. It is used broadly in modern cuisine, mostly in savory dishes. Salt is part of the basic seasonings, along with black pepper. These spices help enhance the flavors of a dish rather than modify them. Salt draws water out of cells by osmosis thus making it hard for many micro-organisms to survive, which makes it ideal for food preservation. Salt is one of 5 basic tastes, which really shows just how important it is to life. Salt is formed from 2 essential minerals: sodium and chloride. Sodium is an electrolyte like calcium, potassium, & magnesium and those electrolytes are very important for water balance in our body. However, in excess though salt can result in or aggravate multiple health problems like high blood pressure, water retention, and cardiovascular disease.
Learn more: Home Remedies To Lower High Blood Pressure
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After reading my writing of benefits of spices and herbs in cooking food, I hope that this writing will help you get more information about benefits of spices and herbs you have often used in cooking your meals. However, this writing is solely for the informational purpose, and it is not intended to give medical advice. If you have any question, you can leave it below. Now are you ready to master all benefits of spices and herbs that you are using for your foods?