Everyone knows that the ingredients that you cook in your meal are critical of course, but you can boost the health – and the taste – by sprinkling on your own little “special concoction.” What could be an easier way to make an impact in your diet?
In my opinion herbs and spices should be considered little “micro food giants.” The benefits they provide across the spectrum are enormous. In fact, I’d even say that these “little weeds” might be a secret way that we can convert our modern, generically dissipated foods back into the “health dynamos” that the primeval world delivered to our ancestors. Unlike most foods the spices are for the most part unaltered and concentrated, and their effects are therefore profound. Could this be the underlying reason why they make food taste so good?
Here are the most powerful ones, and an idea for utilizing them:
1. Parsley. This herb is perfect for many entrees, we use it more than salt in our household. It is high in Luteolin, a flavonoid that can prevent your DNA from oxidative damage. It can also help your body recharge its most important antioxidant – glutathione. Sprinkling parsley on food automatically adds vit C, A and bunch of other essentials too. This is one you want to keep handy.
2, Basil. Here’s an herb with noted anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is known to be at the heart of most modern diseases. Basil may also help to lower blood glucose, and it has shown to be beneficial to the kidneys.
3. Celery. Celery is loaded with fiber, it contains vitamin C, also magnesium, potassium and other essential minerals. Similar to parsley it provides luteolin, so it aids in controlling inflammation. Also in the mix: Coumarins, which may prevent cancer, and phthalides which can lower blood pressure through dilation and relaxing of blood vessels. Quite a punch for a food that has almost ZERO calories!
4. Sage. Sage is particularly high in antioxidants. In general, herbs possess more free radical quenchers than do other foods, even fruits and vegetables, and sage is one of the tops. Like curcumin listed below, sage may also possess neuroprotective properties.
5. Ginger. Ginger may aid the immune system, it also can relieve certain stomach ailments. You should always make it a point to get some ginger sauce with that Chinese food takeout. It’s pour-on protection, and tastes great!
6. Turmeric. This is one of the Superstar Additives. It’s powerful compound curcumin continues to surprise researchers with new health benefits. It’s effect on reducing systemic inflammation is very well documented, and it now shows promise in treating cancer too. (studies page) It has a particular taste of course, and it goes well with some foods, and not so well with others. I mix the orange curcumin with mustard and also put it on eggs, chicken, etc.
7. Onion. Onion has bacterial protective properties for the stomach, it is related to garlic, another one you should use. Onions also have quercitin, a powerful anti aging ingredient I’ve discussed in previous posts. Onion powder adds flavor and powerful health protection.
8. Rosemary. Sprinkling rosemary and olive oil on chicken or steaks can somewhat mitigate the effects of overcooking at the barbeque, and the unhealthy HCA’s and Nitrosamines that can form as a result. Nitrosamines are a product used in pesticides, by the way.
9. Cinnamon. Cinnamon has shown promise in reducing blood sugar spikes after meals, and it has even been shown to help to lower LDL in some studies. This is good news for diabetics. You can add cinnamon to coffee or cocoa, or even simply your whole wheat toast in the morning. Make your own cinnamon rolls? Why not.
As you can see, using herbs and spices on most of your dishes is a good approach for many reasons. People may also tend to use less salt and sugar for flavoring if the dish you prepares can really bowl them over. And you know don’t need all that sodium and sugar. So why not give this a try:
Any good book of recipes will list many of the above herbs and spices as ingredients in their menus. You can determine which of them best suit your taste, then combine them in your own handy shaker. In most cases this is far better health wise than simply grabbing a premixed concoction from the grocery store shelves. Why? Because manufacturers often combine monosodium glutamate and other unhealthy flavorizers in their mixes. If you scan the labels and see something as innocuous as “natural flavor” it is still unhealthy. Natural flavoring is a common masking term for known causers of neurotoxicity and free radical generation; you truly want another approach. Its far better to simply buy a few of the isolated and fresh herbs yourself and mix them together in your own special concoction. Make yourself a big batch. This way they taste exactly as you like and you get all of the benefits listed above and more.