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5 Herbs and Spices for Great Health

By Dana Yarn, RDLDHerbs and Spices

Cooking healthy does not have to be bland, using flavor enhancers like the below herbs and spices instead of excessive salt, butter, or oil will not only keep meals interesting but they have numerous health benefits! 

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is hot and spicy and found in chili pepper. The hotness produced by cayenne is largely due to its high concentration of capsaicin.  The hotter the chili pepper, the more capsaicin and antioxidants it contains! Capsaicin has been shown to help fight inflammation, clear congestion and aid digestion by stimulating the digestive tract and increasing the flow of digestive enzymes and gastric juice production.  Cayenne pepper can be used in homemade taco seasoning, along with cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic and onion. 


This herb can be used fresh, dried, powdered or as either a juice or oil.  Ginger helps those who may have motion sickness or like myself, morning sickness during pregnancy.  Ginger's potent anti-inflammatory compounds have been shown to help reduce the symptoms of arthritis.  Fresh ginger has been shown to be the most successful as an anti-inflammatory.   Fresh ginger can be added to stir fry dishes for a sweet flavor enhancer. 


Tumeric, which comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, has long been used medicinally in Chinese and Indian practices as a potent anti-inflammatory agent.  Research suggest that curcumin offers numerous health benefits, including supporting joint health and gastrointestinal function as well as cardiovascular function by helping to maintain the body's normal inflammatory response.   It can be added to your morning eggs or any dish that calls for a curry like spice. 


Oregano is a very popular herb in almost every Italian dish, bringing out the flavor of tomatoes and cheese!  Its dark green color indicates its high level of vitamin K as well and anti-bacterial properties. Oil of oregano has been used for intestinal parasites, allergies, arthritis, colds and flu. Try growing a small pot of oregano this Spring because fresh is always the best option.  


The most current research suggest that cinnamon has a beneficial impact on blood sugar levels as well as cholesterol levels especially those who have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.  Cinnamon has also shown anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, including for the problematic yeast, Candida.  I enjoy cinnamon in my steel cut oats, hot tea, coffee, or sprinkled on yogurt. 

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