Spices have been used for centuries for their health benefits and medicinal properties. Recent studies have started to catch on to the positive impact certain spices have on the body. We've pulled together a list of our favorite 15 spices that we recommend in your healthy kitchen and the health benefits associated with each.
Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants. It can also help your body fight infections and repair damaged tissue as a result of its anti-inflammatory properties.
For centuries, nutmeg has been used to treat insomnia. It has a high concentration of magnesium which creates a feeling of relaxation.
Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant and it comes with amazing health benefits, including acids that are effective at controlling cholesterol levels. It can also regular blood pressure and prevent anemia.
For thousands of years turmeric has been used in India as a spice and medicinal herb. It helps to fight inflammation and boosts skin health. Pair it with black peppercorns to gain the most absorption and health benefits.
Rich in fiber and iron. Cumin has been known to aid in digestion and improve cognitive performance.
Thyme has a high concentration of iron and other essential minerals which contributes to improved blood circulation and helps to protect the heart.
Ingesting sage, whether inhaled or eaten, has been known to improve cognition and memory retention. The flavor of sage can be quite intense but using it in teas can be great for treating inflammation.
8. Bay Leaves
Bay leaves have been used to treat stomach aches and soothing irritable bowel syndrome. When the essential oil is removed from the leaf and mixed with a salve it can be spread on the chest to alleviate some respiratory conditions.
9. Black Peppercorns (for fresh ground)
A great source of fiber and essential minerals, black peppercorns have been used to aid in weight loss and to relieve sinus congestion.
Like many other processed foods, garlic powder has fewer health benefits than whole garlic. Even so, the health benefits of garlic abound. One study has shown that daily consumption of garlic reduced the number of colds by 63% (see here)
Holy Basil, the leafy Southeast Asian version you would find in Pho, has high nutritional value of vitamins A and C, calcium, zinc, and iron. It's been used to reduce stress, lower cholesterol and blood sugar. It's also effective at decreasing stomach acid and treating stomach aches.
Just one teaspoon of dried oregano can have up to 8% of your daily vitamin K needs - that's a lot of power packed into one herb. One study has shown that oregano essential oil helped block two strains of bacteria known to cause infections (1)
Fresh rosemary is high in vitamins A, C, and B6. It's also high in minerals like magnesium, calcium, copper and iron (2). The health benefits of rosemary include improved hair growth, enhanced brain function and liver detoxification.
14. Mustard Seed
Available in white, black and brown varieties, mustard seeds have been used by cultures all over the world for their health and skin benefits. Mustard seeds are used to reduce migraine symptoms, reduce blood pressure and reduce asthma attacks*.
15. Ground Ginger
A close cousin to turmeric, ginger has been used for centuries to treat nausea and sea sickness. According to one study of pregnant women, 1.1 - 1.5 grams of ginger can significantly reduce symptoms related to morning sickness (3). Ginger can also reduce muscle pain and soreness.
There's our roundup for 15 of our favorite herbs and spices. We always recommend buying organic foods and spices whenever possible. If you have enough space in your kitchen or backyard we also recommend growing your own herb garden.
In addition to our recommended herbs and spices, try these combinations to create your own spice blends at home:
Allspice Substitute blend
- Pinch of Nutmeg
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
Apple Pie Spice blend ingredients
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1-1/2 Teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2 Teaspoon Cardamom
Italian Spice Blend Ingredients
- 2 Tablespoons Dried Basil
- 2 Tablespoons Dried Oregano
- 2 Tablespoons Dried Thyme
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Sage
*While we always recommend having healthy and delicious herbs and spices on hand, we also highly recommend speaking with your physician before changing your diet.