Powerful Herbs and Spices: Cooking and Your Health

By Summer Banks FNS, SPT on Feb 09, 2021

From the dawn of time, herbs and spices have been staples of countless recipes and numerous cultures. When people think about spices, they usually think about herbs, seasonings, and other ingredients that are used to bring out the flavors of different foods. While it is true that herbs and spices are still important when it comes to taste, flavor profile, the personalities of foods, herbs, and spices also have a wide array of powerful health benefits that can be beneficial for someone’s mental health, emotional health, and physical health.

The next time you’re trying to figure out what herbs or spices to add to your food, it is a good idea to think about your physical health as well. Particularly if you are someone who wants to improve your overall health, herbs and spices might be able to help you improve your overall quality of life without causing side effects in the process. Of course, you are still going to enjoy the taste benefits that fresh herbs and spices will provide.

Take a look at some of the most important spices you can add to your food that can also provide you with helpful health benefits.

Cinnamon Can Help Control Blood Sugar Levels

Cinnamon and blood sugar

Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices in the world and it is found in a wide variety of recipes, baked goods, and even drinks! Cinnamon is popular because it has an incredibly potent antioxidant activity, as per research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

This allows it to fight inflammation in addition to scavenging free radicals that would also cause cellular damage. It also has the ability to help you lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, protecting your cardiovascular system. In addition, where cinnamon truly stands out from the crowd is that it can help you control your blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar levels spike and drop quickly, this can leave you vulnerable to developing long-term metabolic issues.

Plus, low blood sugar levels may also lead to central nervous system problems. According to Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, cinnamon has the ability to keep your blood sugar within a specified range, which can help address these issues.

Cinnamon causes your digestive tract to slow the breakdown of carbohydrates gradually. Therefore, instead of metabolizing all of the carbohydrates from your meal at once, your body does this with a slow, gradual process, sending carbohydrates to your bloodstream over an extended period of time. As a result, your blood sugar levels are more stable.

Another study published in The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society also showed that insulin can help you improve your insulin sensitivity. Your body uses insulin to drop its blood sugar levels when it gets too high and responds to insulin by taking carbohydrates and moving them into your body’s cells.

If your body is able to respond to insulin more quickly, your blood sugar levels will be kept within normal ranges. This is just another way that cinnamon can help you control your blood sugar levels.

For this reason, cinnamon would be a great addition to a comprehensive weight-loss program like Noom, especially since this system offers personalized meal plans and extensive food logging tools to help boost your health. Currently, you can give Noom a try through their free trial offer available for a limited time!

How Else Can You Control Blood Sugar Levels?

There are several other ways that you can control your blood sugar as well. In addition to consuming cinnamon on a regular basis, let’s look at some of the top ways that you can control your blood sugar levels:

  • Think about exercising on a regular basis. In addition to improving your cardiovascular health, exercise can also help you improve your insulin sensitivity. Similar to cinnamon, this will help your body respond to blood sugar spikes more effectively.
  • Consider adding more fiber to your diet. Fiber is commonly found in the skin of fruits and vegetables. If you consume fiber, your digestion of carbohydrates will slow. This will prevent your body from experiencing massive spikes in blood sugar levels.
  • Make sure that you drink enough water. Drinking water can help you keep your blood sugar levels in check. Water will help your kidneys flush out excess sugar. One study published in Circulation has also shown that drinking water can help you prevent the development of long-term metabolic problems.

Ultimately, think about working more cinnamon into your diet. You can add this to cookies, brownies, certain entrees, and even a few drinks. If you are looking for a way to better control your blood sugar levels, try cinnamon to help you do so.

Basil Helps Boost the Immune System

Basil is a popular herb that originated in India, but is now a staple in countless dishes. Even though basil is commonly found on pizzas and pasta sauces, it has found its way into just about every type of cuisine because it is so versatile. There is also evidence of basil may be able to help improve the overall function of the immune system.

A medical study published in the Journal of Microbiological Methods found that basil can inhibit the growth of certain molds, bacteria, and fungi, such as yeast. Even though the exact mechanism behind us and their mission is still under investigation, it appears that basil can help prevent certain types of organisms from dividing, which may slow the rate of certain types of infections.

Another study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that basil can increase the concentration of certain types of immune cells in your bloodstream. There are numerous immune cells that play a role in fighting infections, like white blood cells and antibodies. White blood cells are responsible for gobbling up bacteria and viruses that invade your body. Antibodies also play a role by coding Invaders and certain proteins that signal white blood cells to gobble them up.

If you are looking for a way to reduce your chances of getting sick, then it is important for you to exercise on a regular basis and eat a healthy diet – and that is where basil can be helpful. Think about adding a bit of extra basil to some of your dishes, as it might boost your health in the future!

Turmeric Is an Anti-Inflammatory Spice

Turmeric and inflammation

One spice that has gotten an incredible amount of attention during the past few years – and for good reason – is turmeric. Turmeric the yellow spice that is responsible for the stereotypical color of curry. There are numerous compounds in turmeric that can provide medicinal benefits, but the most important ones are usually caused by one called curcumin.

Curcumin is popular because it is a powerful antioxidant., according to Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. This antioxidant is responsible for scavenging free radicals that are produced as a byproduct of the body’s reactions. When your body is enzymes carry out their reactions, there are side effects and byproducts generated.

In some situations, this can take the form of free radicals. Free radicals essentially have an unpaired electron that is able to bind to various molecules throughout the body, including DNA. When this happens, your DNA can get damaged.

If you are looking for a way to reduce inflammation throughout your body, then it is important to scavenge these free radicals and prevent them from doing damage. That is where turmeric can be helpful. The sad reality is that long-term, low-level inflammation can lead to serious problems for your long-term health in multiple ways.

Long-term inflammation may play a role in chronic health issues, aging, central nervous system issues, and cardiovascular problems. That’s why it is important for you to take advantage of every opportunity to reduce inflammation throughout your body, which includes using turmeric. If you aren’t a fan of curry, there are multiple types available. Make sure that you don’t knock it until you have tried all of them! Turmeric is also present in some other foods as well, such as Asian stir-fry noodles.

Finally, if you really cannot find anything containing turmeric that you enjoy, you can also take turmeric directly as a supplement. Overall, it is important to make sure that you protect your body against the damage of long-term inflammation with turmeric.

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Cayenne Pepper Contains Capsaicin, Which Can Control Appetites

If you are looking for a spice that will add a bit of a kick to your dishes, then there is a good chance that you have reached for cayenne pepper in the past. Cayenne pepper is a common ingredient in numerous types of seasonings. Plus, a lot of people like to add cayenne pepper directly to their food.

The reason why cayenne pepper is spicy is that it contains an ingredient called capsaicin. Capsaicin is responsible for the check that is found in many peppers. In addition, research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that capsaicin can increase the ability of your body to burn fat.

As a result, a lot of people like to eat spicy food if they are trying to lose weight. In addition, capsaicin can also help you control your appetite. When your body burns fat as a source of energy, your body is not going to believe that it needs to eat as much food to power its functions. You may find that after you have eaten the spicy meal, you do not get hungry for a little while.

Even though some people might get irritated by spicy food (and this might be the reason why they are not hungry), this also has to do with your body’s appetite. If you are not a fan of spicy food, or you have a history of stomach ulcers or gastrointestinal distress, then you might be trying to stay away from spicy food. The good news is that you can take capsaicin directly as a supplement instead of having to consume it in your dishes.

If you are someone who likes spicy food, then consider adding a little bit more cayenne pepper to your meals. You may find that this is able to help you control your appetite and might help you reach your weight loss goals.

How Else Can You Control Your Appetite?

If you are looking for other ways to control your appetite, there are plenty of other options available.

Consider adding more protein to your diet. When it comes to breaking down nutrients, your body has to work the hardest to consume protein. Proteins are complicated molecules with a lot of constituent parts. Overall, your body is going to take a little bit longer to break down protein, which may mean that you might not get hungry for a while.

You should also think about consuming more solids than liquids. There are a lot of people who consume drinks with a lot of calories in them. This might include your latte from the coffee shop or a sugary beverage.

The reality is that your body does not interpret liquids and solids the same, and solid food requires more chewing in order to digest. According to research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, your brain is going to interpret solids as making you feel full and does not treat liquids in a similar manner.

Finally, you might want to think about consuming more dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has a bitter taste, which may reduce your appetite. Plus, information from the medical textbook Fat Detection: Taste, Texture, and Post Ingestive Effects shows that dark chocolate contains a specific compound called stearic acid. This compound helps to slow your digestion, increasing your feeling of fullness and therefore, making your appetite drop.

These are a few additional ways that you can control your appetite. In addition to adding a bit more cayenne pepper to your food, think about putting these other tips to use as well. If you are able to keep your appetite in check, you will be able to reach your weight loss goals.

Sage Can Help Improve Brain Function and Memory

If you are looking for a way to improve the function of your central nervous system and your memory, then consider consuming more sage. Sage has been one of the most popular herbs and spices for centuries.

Even during ancient times, sage had a reputation for powerful healing properties. Now, some say it might have the ability to help you improve the function of your brain. This may be particularly helpful for those who are prone to developing memory loss in the future.
One of the reasons why people tend to develop memory issues as they get older a drop in their levels of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is one of the most important messengers in the brain.

One study published in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior found that sage can help your body prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, ensuring that your central nervous system has this powerful neurotransmitter in the future. By keeping your levels of acetylcholine high, the neurons and cells in your brain will be able to communicate with each other more effectively. This may be able to help you prevent memory loss.

This was also backed up by another medical study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. During a study that lasted for months, more than 40 individuals who experienced memory loss were provided with sage on a regular basis. The study showed that sage extract was able to provide these individuals with significant improvements in the overall function of their brains. On consistent testing, these individuals perform better on memory examinations.

In the end, if you are looking for a way to improve the function of your central nervous system and prevent memory loss from happening in the future, then try to find ways to work more sage into your diet. This powerful spice can make a significant difference in not only the taste of your food but also the function of your central nervous system.

Working sage into a healthy diet can be a lot easier when you have a weight-loss program like Noom on your side, which offers meal plans, 1:1 health coaching, health tracking tools, and more. If you are ready to give these weight-loss tools a try, check out the free trial offer available from Noom for a limited time!

Garlic Can Help Improve Immunity and Heart Health

Garlic and Immunity

Without a doubt, one of the most popular spices in the world is garlic. For those who say they don’t like garlic, there’s a good chance that they simply haven’t tried it! From the dawn of ancient times, garlic has been cultivated for its medicinal properties in addition to its delicious taste.

When people think about the effects of garlic, they usually associate this with the immune system. Garlic supplementation is well known for helping people combat routine sicknesses, including the common cold, as per Advances in Therapy. Even though the exact nature regarding how garlic benefits the immune system is still under investigation, it might be able to prevent you from getting sick.

On the other hand, garlic may also have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system is important for distributing oxygen and nutrients to every organ system in your body in the form of blood. If you have an elevated cholesterol level, your chances of developing cardiovascular complications will increase.
Garlic supplementation may be able to help you reduce your bad cholesterol, also known as LDL cholesterol. According to the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London, garlic supplementation might be able to help you reduce your LDL cholesterol by somewhere between 10 and 15 percent.

Another study published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry shows that garlic might be able to help you control your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is consistently elevated, this could lead to long-term damage to the body’s blood vessels.

Your body’s blood vessels are going to have to respond to this increased pressure by increasing the strength of its muscle cells. If the muscle cells in your blood vessels begin to expand, this narrows the diameter through which your blood can flow – which increases the chances of a severe cardiovascular event taking place.

Additional Tips for Protecting Your Heart Health

In addition to consuming more garlic, there are other ways that you can protect the overall health of your cardiovascular system.

If you are someone who smokes on a regular basis, then it is important to stop smoking. Even though smoking is one of the most difficult habits to break, this is incredibly important for protecting the health of your heart. Smoking will directly damage your lungs, which are responsible for transporting oxygen from the external environment and sending it to your blood.

If you damage your lungs, your blood is not going to contain the oxygen it needs to do its job, damaging your cardiovascular system. Smoking will also constrict your blood vessels, which will further inhibit the ability of your body to transport oxygen and nutrients where they need to go.

Next, it is also important for you to exercise on a regular basis. There is a reason why cardiac exercise has been named in this fashion. Cardiac exercise is important for your cardiovascular system. Even though cardiac exercise can be a challenge for some people, there is no need for you to go out and run 10 miles on a daily basis.

30 minutes of cardiac exercise at a moderate intensity several days a week is enough for you to protect the health of your cardiovascular system. If you are trying to perform cardiac exercises for the first time, start low and go slow. Begin by walking around the neighborhood for a half-hour on a nightly basis. If you perform this exercise with a friend or family member, you may find that this task is easier.

Of course, it is also important for you to think about your diet. In addition to adding more garlic to your diet, it is also a good idea for you to increase your intake of nuts, seeds, and certain herbs while also limiting your consumption of red meat. Try to increase the number of fruits and vegetables to eat on a regular basis. By trying to limit your intake of sugary foods and fatty foods, you can protect the health of your cardiovascular system and improve the health of your heart.

Finally, make sure that you go to the doctor once per year for your annual checkup. Even though you may feel healthy, some of the symptoms of cardiovascular issues do not manifest until it is too late. When you go to the doctor on a regular basis, they are going to check your cholesterol and manage your blood pressure.

If you do not know that your cholesterol and blood pressure elevated, is going to be a challenge for you to do anything about it, so make sure that you get your annual check-up on time every year. This is important in protecting the health of not only your heart but also your other organ systems as well.

Ultimately, consider incorporating these tips into your daily life. When these are combined with garlic intake, you might be able to improve the overall health of your cardiovascular system. Your cardiovascular system plays a critical role in the overall health of your body because it is responsible for transporting oxygen and nutrients to your body’s cells and organ systems, so protect it by incorporating more delicious garlic into your diet on a regular basis.

Rosemary Can Reduce Allergies

There are countless people who suffer from seasonal allergies on a regular basis. Some of the most common causes of seasonal allergies include pollen in the air, pet dander, and certain types of mold. Many people wonder how they can tell the difference between seasonal allergies and more serious sickness.

The biggest difference is that seasonal allergies will not lead to an elevated body temperature, also known as a fever. Some of the other signs of seasonal allergies include:

  • The development of red, watery eyes
  • Problems involving nasal congestion and a runny nose
  • A chronic cough that may or may not be productive

Without a doubt, seasonal allergies can lead to a massive impact on someone’s overall quality of life. The good news is that you may be able to get your seasonal allergies under control with the help of rosemary.

Rosemary has also been shown to reduce nasal congestion due to seasonal allergies. For example, one medical study showed that both low and high doses of Rosemary were able to help people suppress the symptoms of seasonal allergies. On microscopic examination, the number of immune cells that are present in the nasal mucus produced by people in the study also dropped. This is another sign showing that rosemary can directly reduce the response of the immune system to seasonal allergies, helping people control their symptoms.

Therefore, if you are looking for a way to get your seasonal allergies under control, then you might want to think about adding more rosemary to your diet. It doesn’t take much rosemary to do the trick, so consider adding it to your next dish.

Fenugreek Can Boost Blood Sugar Control

Fenugreek and blood sugar

There are lots of people who are looking for ways to control their blood sugar levels. If this sounds like you, there are numerous options available to you.
In addition to exercising on a regular basis and watching your intake of carbohydrates, you should also reach for a spice called fenugreek. Fenugreek is a unique spice that may not be a staple in many kitchens. However, it might be able to help you control your blood sugar levels.

Fenugreek used to be used in Ayurveda to improve signs of masculinity, such as libido. Even though its impacts on libido are a bit controversial, medical studies have shown that it can help you improve your blood sugar control.

The herb is believed to help you control your blood sugar thanks to a compound called 4-hydroxy isoleucine. This specific protein can help you improve the ability of your body to respond to insulin, according to Current Opinion in Investigational Drugs.

Insulin is responsible for shifting excess blood sugar from your bloodstream into the cells of your body. If your body responds to insulin more quickly, you are better able to deal with blood sugar spikes.

For a long time, fenugreek has been a staple of dishes that are made in India. When making anything from the Indian continent, such as Curry or tikka masala, then consider adding some fenugreek to it. You may also be able to find additional uses for fenugreek to help you control your blood sugar. If you are looking for a way to prevent the development of long-term metabolic issues, then you should make sure that you keep your blood sugar under control. This unique spice might be able to help you do exactly that.

Controlling blood sugar levels can be easier when you are consuming the right kinds of foods, something a program like Noom can help with. This clinically-based system helps users learn about their behaviors and make lasting changes to their habits, leading to long-term weight-loss. Make sure to check out Noom’s free trial offer – only available for a limited time!

Ginger Can Help with Nausea and Vomiting

If you are someone who commonly suffers from nausea and vomiting, then you might be looking for natural remedies. Even though there are over the counter medications that can help you, ginger may provide you with another option.

Ginger is one of the most powerful spices in the world. Even though it is commonly used in Asian foods, it has made its way into Western cultures as well.
In addition to giving your dishes a little bit of a kick, ginger can also help you control nausea and vomiting. When you regularly suffer from nausea, there are signals that travel from your stomach to your brain, telling you to vomit, which usually happens when your body believes that you have consumed something that is harmful to it. The good news is that ginger can put a stop to this.

Whether you are feeling nauseous due to morning sickness, undergoing treatment for a chronic condition, or simply suffering from motion sickness because you are on a boat or an airplane, research published in Obstetrics and Gynecology has shown that ginger can help you.

In addition to helping you treat nausea, ginger is also an anti-inflammatory compound. Long-term inflammation has been closely associated with a number of serious conditions, which may mean it is a good idea for you to control inflammation by eating ginger.

How Else Can You Control Nausea?

When it comes to uncomfortable feelings, nausea is probably the most recognizable. The side effect of countless medications, nausea can also be a byproduct of stress, anxiety, and food poisoning. If you are looking for ways to control your nausea, ginger is only one of many options.

Acupuncture is another way that you can reduce your nausea. During acupuncture, there are thin noodles that are going to be inserted into specific points on your body. The goal is to stimulate certain nerves and pressure points to calm signals that travel from your stomach to your brain. A trained acupuncture therapist might be able to use the treatment method to help you reduce your nausea.

If you are looking for other food options to help you control your nausea, then you may want to consider slicing a lemon. Smells that come from citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges may be able to help you reduce your nausea. Scratching the peel may also work, as it can release essential oils into the air, helping you control your nausea better.

Vitamin B6 can help people control their nausea as well, according to one study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, has been shown to specifically help women who are pregnant control morning sickness and other causes of nausea. Even if you are not pregnant, this may be something you could try.

Finally, if you develop nausea and vomiting after you eat due to acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux, then try to remain upright after meals. A lot of people like to lie down after they eat because they experience something known as a food coma. Unfortunately, this increases your chances of developing reflux. Try to remain upright for about 30 minutes after you eat and see if this helps your nausea.

If you are looking for a way to incorporate the spice into your diet, there are plenty of options from which to choose. For example, you can add a little bit of ginger to your next stir fry dish. Or, you can even top your next slow cooker meal with some ginger.

Keep in mind that this is a powerful spice, so it will not take much to add a bit more kick to your meal. Control your nausea, reduce your information, and improve your overall health with the help of this powerful spice.

Peppermint Can Help Alleviate Pain from GI Distress

Peppermint and GI distress

There are lots of people who need to visit the doctor due to issues that accompany their gastrointestinal system. Particularly for individuals who have irritable bowels, it is important to find ways to calm the GI system.

That is where peppermint can be helpful. Peppermint has been popular in folk medicine for a long time. Further research has shown that peppermint can provide you with a wide variety of GI benefits. When it comes to peppermint, the oils that accompany it are responsible for the agents that lead to many of these beneficial health effects.

There are numerous studies that have shown that peppermint oil has the ability to improve people’s pain management, particularly in individuals who suffer from irritable bowels. Peppermint oil does this by relaxing smooth muscles that are present in the colon. These smooth muscles are responsible for the peristalsis that gradually moves food down the GI tract. When these smooth muscles calm down, the pain that usually accompanies irritable bowels is reduced, according to the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.

Furthermore, research published in the scientific journal Digestive and Liver Disease found that peppermint oil can also help people reduce abdominal bloating. If you feel bloated after your meal, then peppermint oil may be able to help you.

There are also some people who like to use peppermint oil as a form of aromatherapy. In aromatherapy, the oil is vaporized and released into the air. Instead of adding peppermint oil directly to your food or drinks, you can inhale it using an essential oil vaporizer as well. In this manner, peppermint oil is incredibly versatile.

There are multiple ways that you can access the benefits of this oil. Consider adding peppermint oil to your drinks, brownies, cookies, or other meal. If you prefer, you can even release it into the air, vaporizing it in the form of essential oils.

Overall, peppermint oil can help you relax the muscles of your gastrointestinal tract, alleviating abdominal distension, bloating, and discomfort after a meal.

Improve Your Health with These Basic Spices

In the end, it is important for you to take a well-rounded approach to your health. There are lots of herbs and spices out there. Therefore, there are plenty of ways you can spice up food to meet your taste while also improving your physical health.

In addition to going to the doctor on a regular basis, it is a good idea to take a look at your physical health and figure out what you need to improve. Then, you can take a look at this list of spices and figure out which of them will work well for your unique needs.

When you are trying to develop your menu for dinner this week, consider trying to work a few more of these herbs and spices into your list! They can go a long way toward helping you improve your health in a natural manner and might be able to work in conjunction with other lifestyle changes you are considering.

Incorporating these herbs and spices with a customizable and clinically-backed program like Noom makes it even easier. This weight-loss system utilized psychology-backed tactics to “trick” users into making healthier choices through meal planning, health tracking tools, 1:1 coaching sessions, and food logging. Right now Noom is offering a free trial offer for a limited time!

About the Author:

Summer Banks has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with professionals in the weight loss industry and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University.