For thousands of years, cultures around the world have used herbs and spices in meal preparation. Along with adding wonderful flavours and aromas to common everyday foods, herbs and spices contain a wide range of healing and medicinal properties.
Consuming herbs and spices is an excellent way to support your health naturally, bypassing the harmful side effects of conventional pharmaceutical medications.
The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of the world's population depends on plants to treat common ailments. Why not join the billions of people worldwide that are leveraging the power of herbs and spices to support their health and well-being? Whether your preference is for some mild seasoning that subtly enhances your meal, or a stronger flavour that takes centre stage, there's an herb or spice that will appeal to your taste buds — here are 5 to consider.
1. Cloves (spice)
Native to Indonesia, cloves have long been known to offer protection against food poisoning due to their ability to kill certain types of bacteria. Throw in a few whole cloves when cooking to benefit from their antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
To allow cloves to subtly enhance the flavour of a dish without taking over and giving the food a bitter edge, don't cook them for too long. You'll also want to remove the cooked cloves so no-one bites into one accidentally, as this can be unpleasant due to the clove's strong, bitter flavour.
2. Oregano (herb)
Native to the Mediterranean and Western Asia, oregano provides antifungal and antibiotic properties. Regular consumption of oregano will strengthen your immune system and help your body fight off infections. You can add oregano while cooking, but you don't need to; it also works well sprinkled on dishes after cooking.
3. Rosemary (herb)
A member of the mint family, rosemary is native to the Mediterranean but has naturalized throughout much of Europe. Just like mint, it has a relaxing effect on the stomach and stimulates healthy digestion. It also supports healthy circulation and is good for individuals suffering from either high blood pressure or low blood pressure.
4. Thyme (herb):
Native to Mediterranean regions, thyme has strong antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Like cloves, thyme offers protection against spoiled meat and food-borne illnesses. It supports overall digestive health and can help to eliminate gas,
Thyme can also help to ease coughs and other symptoms associated with respiratory problems. With its antimicrobial properties and powerful germ-killing abilities, thyme is especially beneficial in helping to soothe a sore throat.
5. Turmeric (spice)
A staple spice in Indian and Asian cuisine, turmeric's medicinal use in India and Southeast Asia dates back thousands of years. Antibiotic and antifungal properties are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to turmeric's many health benefits. It also serves as an antibacterial agent, and is effective against the intestinal parasite Entamoeba histolytica.
Turmeric's bright golden colour comes from the compound curcumin, an excellent anti-inflammatory that makes it beneficial for those suffering from arthritis. Turmeric is also a detoxifying spice, as it helps the liver to increase bile flow, which is one of the main ways the liver eliminates toxins. As if that were not enough, turmeric is increasingly being recognized for its cancer-fighting properties as well!
Herbs and spices possess a range of health-promoting qualities, and they're a great way to boost and protect your health naturally. However, everyone is different, and there's always a chance that a particular food of any kind might not agree with you. If you are new to cooking with herbs and spices, be prepared to experiment. Keep in mind that whether fresh or dried, herbs and spices can be surprisingly potent both in their flavour and their effect on your system, so start off with a light hand. Take note of what you enjoy, pay attention to how you feel, and find what works best for you personally.
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