5 Herbs and Spices You Should Try This National Herbs and Spices Day
Herbs and spices are more than something that gives your meals a bit of pizzazz. These natural ingredients contain compounds that are beneficial to your health! This National Herbs and Spices Day, learn more about the herbs and spices in your cabinet, their amazing health benefits, and how to keep them fresh.
Top 5 Herbs and Spices to Try
While it is hard to narrow down what the best spices are, there are a few that should be in every cabinet. These herbs and spices we’ve chosen for National Herbs and Spices Day are incredibly versatile to use in the kitchen and great for your health.
Cayenne pepper contains small compounds called capsaicinoids that are responsible for the spicy flavor of peppers.
Capsaicin can help improve blood circulation, support normal cholesterol levels, help with managing pain and inflammation, support metabolism, protect against pathogens, and more! 1
Cayenne pepper can add a flavorful kick of heat to nearly anything – beans, seafood and other meats, salad dressings, roasted nuts, and even Mexican chocolate desserts.
Turmeric is well-known to be anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, and protective against microbes.
Studies find that curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, may reduce joint pain and inflammation, help with blood sugar regulation, protect the skin against free radicals, and help lower inflammation related to chronic conditions. 2
Turmeric is a golden spice that can add bold flavor and color to a variety of dishes. Use turmeric in golden milk, lentils, curries, roasting vegetables in the oven, blending into smoothies, or as a spice on meats or tofu.
Cinnamon is a popular spice for managing blood sugar and shows benefits for reducing inflammation and protecting against microbes. [3-4]
This fragrant and flavorful herb can be used as an oatmeal topping, added to sliced fruits like apples, mixed into stews, used for roasting root vegetables, and even brings warmth to tea and other beverages.
Multiple studies find that oregano may be effective against elevated blood sugars and other factors that contribute to diabetes. The phenolic antioxidant compounds of oregano are also anti-inflammatory and protect against microbes.[5.6]
Oregano is a major player in Italian foods like pasta sauces, soups, and stews, but it is also good for vinaigrettes, meats, poultry, in stuffing, or sprinkled upon salads.
Rosemary is an herb high in polyphenol antioxidants that is beneficial for reducing inflammation, supporting gut health, regulating blood sugar levels, and may even help lower the absorption of fats.[5,7]
The aromatic herb rosemary pairs well with poultry, roasted vegetables, homemade bread, soups, and it can even be infused into a simple syrup for beverages.
Maximizing the Freshness of Your Spice Cabinet
The health benefits of certain spices and herbs are at their highest when they are used fresh. Over time, oxidation and exposure to the elements can decrease the freshness of seasonings, making them less tasty and less effective. To extend the life of your spice rack, try these helpful tips:
Store your herbs and spices properly: Heat and sunlight increase how quickly herbs and spices can deteriorate, so it is best to keep them in a cool, dark cabinet or in the fridge.
Purchase whole herbs and spices: Pre-ground spices and herbs easily lose the oils that keep them fresh and fragrant more easily than whole spices.
Purchase as you go: Instead of purchasing large quantities of a spice or herb you may not use frequently, look for stores that allow you to buy in bulk and measure the amount of a spice that you may need in the short term.
Keep your spice containers closed: Keeping spices and herbs open to the air quickens the expiration of spices and may even cause clumping due to exposure to moisture and humidity.
Do your research: Not all spice brands offer the same quality of spices. Look for trusted brands that are dedicated to quality and ethical sourcing, including fair trade herbs and spices.
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