Herbs and spices are for some integral components of the cooking process and for others potentially undervalued components of a strong dietary pattern.
I am ashamed to be admit I fall in the latter category, so if you’ve been sleeping on herbs/spices too just know that you aren’t alone.
Despite of my shortcomings in this area, I often field questions from clients and acquaintances around which herbs/spices offer the most potent health benefits.
Given that they are all uniquely valuable, I’m going to attempt to respond to this question in a thematic way.
Let’s start by identifying the fact that herbs & spices offer up a unique way to flavour foods in the absence or reduced presence of sodium.
Given that high sodium intake is a primary driver of high blood pressure and that most of us consume too much, this is certainly helpful.
To quote a 2013 British Medical Journal paper:
“The totality of evidence suggests that most people will likely benefit from reducing sodium intake”
The other massively useful thing that herbs/spices do is offer us exposure to a wide array of highly beneficial compounds, you will understand what I mean shortly but first another quote.
“Although the daily intake of herbs and spices is very low compared to other foods, this important set of seasoning agents should not be underestimated, especially given their potential benefits to health.”
With that being said, my hope is that today’s post will nudge you towards purchasing and incorporating these individual components, which as I like to say will give you a few extra health percentage points.
Let’s see what I’ve come up with, slightly arbitrary as it might be!
Category #1 – Anti-Inflammatory Content/Capacity
Turmeric wins this one by a land slide, with the most significant anti-inflammatory effect score as per the dietary anti-inflammatory index(DII) – which I’ve discussed in a previous post.
Runner’s up include garlic, onion, and ginger.
Category #2 – Unique Beneficial Compound Content
Oregano, Celery Seeds & Parsley win this category, as they are particularly high in flavonoids – which, of course, I’ve discussed in a previous post.
Flavonoids, I might add, are also robustly anti-inflammatory.
Category #3- Antioxidant Content/Capacity
Clove & Thyme win this one, being the commonly available spices with the most antioxidant potential.
It’s thyme to spice up your life, am I right?
Until next time,
Andy De Santis RD MPH