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Go ahead! Spice it up!
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Go ahead! Spice it up!

With herbs and spices! Besides great flavor, herbs and spices also bring along plenty of health benefits because you can avoid extra salt, calories, sugar and fat. How ideal is that!

Salt is one of the main culprits when it comes to health problems. While it is used to flavor food, too much can result in a series of issues like increased blood pressure, weight gain, cardiovascular disease and so on. But hey, I’ll talk about the benefits of a low sodium diet in my next post, okay?

Today’s post is about the health benefits of herbs and spices. A great substitute for salt, herbs and spices also bring along crucial antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that:

  • Strengthen your heart
  • Keep your skin beautiful and healthy
  • Make your hair lustrous
  • Help maintain healthy weight
  • Reduce your risk for osteoporosis, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cataracts….. the list goes on!

You too can take advantage of these benefits.  Go in for fresh and dried herbs, preferably the unsalted variety, garlic and ginger powder to season your food. You can also add these to pasta, salads, soups, vegetables and almost any dish you want to add flavor to.

Did you know?

The spicy flavor of chili peppers, cumin, coriander and curry automatically make you eat slower? Baking spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom are also a great way to sweeten your foods without the extra sugar.

Hmm. I should probably rest my case now and sign off. But I’ve got to give you a few examples of herbs and spices before I do that. Otherwise this post won’t be complete, will it?

Here we go, then!


No, this is not a mixture of many spices. This is the berry of the pimento tree and popularly used in Caribbean and American cuisine. In Hindi, it is called kabab cheeni. I know some of you are wondering why it is called allspice. Here’s why: it tastes like a combination of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.


Mostly used in Italian cuisine, basil is a flavorful and fragrant herb. It is best added at the end of cooking to avoid losing its fresh green color and taste.  Basil is also available as sweet basil, Thai basil, and lemon basil. You can also get dried basil or grow it in a pot.

Bay leaves:

Bay leaves can be used fresh or dried. This is used as a flavor in soups, stews, and other slow-cooking dishes like Palau and Biryani. Of course, dried leaves last longer and have added flavor. Remove it from the dish before eating, as the leaves are not meant to be eaten.

Black pepper:

Pepper is a great stand-alone spice that is great to reduce your risk for high blood pressure, especially if you have been advised to limit your salt intake.


Cardamom has a pleasing fragrance and taste. Great as a flavor and also doubles up as a mouth freshener.


Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant. You can use it whole or as a powder to flavor your dishes. Cilantro or coriander leaves are also beneficial.


Cumin, or jeera, is a spice you can use as whole seeds or ground to flavor your dishes.


Use fresh garlic or garlic powder to reduce your salt intake. Of course, fresh has more flavor; but the powdered version will last longer. One eighth teaspoon of garlic powder equals one clove of fresh garlic. So add it to your kitchen spices. Remember that garlic salt is very different from pure garlic


Ginger is a spice that has an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, and helps to prevent and manage arthritis. It is also a great remedy for nausea.


Mint is an herb best used in fresh. You can add mint leaves to beverages, food dishes and desserts. Adding crushed fresh mint leaves to unsweetened iced tea or water is a terrific way to create a delicious, refreshing drink without the added calories and sugar.


Nutmeg is a spice that is used to flavor food as well as baked goods and desserts.


Turmeric is a staple in Indian cooking and has many health benefits such as
anti-inflammatory properties to help prevent and treat arthritis and protect against memory loss.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Most of these are in your kitchen shelf, right?  J No? Please add them now. And use them.

Stay healthy!

Is there a topic you would like to read about? Please mail me at vidzword [at] gmail [dot] com

Vidya Sury  gets her herbs and spices as a Freelance Writer and Professional Blogger. She’s mom to a teenager who loves spicy food.

When she’s not working, getting a caffeine overload, listening to music, reading or spring cleaning, she blogs at Going A-Musing, Coffee With Mi!  and Your Medical Guide

0 13 December, 2011 Health December 13, 2011

About the author

Vidya's healthy concoctions (read: health posts) makes the perfect cup of GingerChai for body and soul of our readers. Follow @vidyasury You can read her personal concoctions in her personal blog, Going A-Musing

View all articles by Vidya Sury


  1. Susan Deborah

    Quite a comprehensive spread of goodness in a post. I wonder how garlic can be used to make the food taste salted. Does garlic have a similar property? My husband has been advised to reduce salt intake and hence was wondering.

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