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Spice of Life: Health Benefits of Spices and Herbs

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Herbs and spices have more disease-fighting antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables. Here's how to rack up the benefits.

Health Boost: Can lower blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. Aim for one-fourth to one-half teaspoon of cinnamon twice a day.

Get Cooking: Dip berries or bananas in low-fat sour cream, then in a mix of 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 cup brown sugar.


Health Boost: Contains curcumin, which can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Try to have 500 to 800 milligrams a day, says Bharat Aggarwal, PhD, a professor of cancer medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Get Cooking: For an Indian flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric to water when cooking 1 cup rice.


Health Boost: Stops gene mutations that could lead to cancer and may help prevent damage to the blood vessels that raise heart attack risk.

Get Cooking: For a delicious chicken rub, combine 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves with 2 teaspoons seasoning salt and 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves.


Health Boost: Destroys cancer cells and may disrupt the metabolism of tumor cells, says Karen Collins, RD, nutrition advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research. "Studies suggest that one or two cloves weekly provide cancer-protective benefits."

Get Cooking: "Let garlic sit for 10 to 15 minutes after chopping and before cooking so the active form of the protective phytochemicals develops," says Collins. Saute fresh garlic over low heat and mix with pasta, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese.


Health Boost: Contains capsaicin, whose anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects may lower the risk of cancer (also found in cayenne and red chili peppers). There's no specific recommended dose, but moderation is probably the best way to go.

Get Cooking: Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme and 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper to liven up popcorn.


Health Boost: Can decrease motion sickness and nausea; may also relieve pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Doses used in clinical trials range from 500 to 2,000 mg of powdered ginger. (A quarter-size piece of fresh root contains about 1,000 mg.) More than 6,000 mg can cause stomach irritation. Ginger can also hinder blood clotting, so if you're about to have surgery or are taking blood thinners or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor first.

Get Cooking: For motion sickness, try having one or two pieces of crystallized, or candied, ginger. Make sure ginger is listed as an ingredient; some candied products or ginger ales contain a small amount or a synthetic form. You can also add 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger to vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes, as well as fresh fruit (especially peaches).


Health Boost: A USDA study found that, gram for gram, oregano has the highest antioxidant activity of 27 fresh culinary herbs.

Get Cooking: To spice up tomato soup, add 3/4 teaspoon oregano to 1 can; add 1/2 teaspoon to 2 cups pasta or pizza sauce. Substitute 1 teaspoon dried oregano for 2 teaspoons fresh.

Originally published in Fitness magazine, May 2006.


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worldflavors wrote:

Spices and Tease, spice store and tea in New York selling healthy spices, healthy tea blend spices and tease offers the same "plethora" of "interesting teas" and "fresh spices" (including 30 housemade blends) that have drawn raves at street markets for years; expect some 180 loose-leaf teas,plus an assortment of dried herbs, flavored sugars, salts and peppers

6/3/2014 09:55:32 AM Report Abuse
dnearly wrote:

So glad I read this. I need all the antioxidant help I can get. Now I know what to buy.

2/23/2014 06:46:33 PM Report Abuse
asingingwolf wrote:

Great list. One thing to caution people on is the regular or heavy use of cinnamon... just as ginger has some cautionary considerations. Another thing to keep in mind is the source of your herbs & spices. How fresh are they? Have they been grown organically? is a great source for organic ginger, cinnamon and everything else on this list.

11/1/2013 03:03:05 PM Report Abuse
berry_blend19 wrote:

I really enjoyed this article. Antioxidant power is so important, especially for women. The anti-aging and health benefits gained from powerful antioxidants are incredible. I am so glad that you gave a list of nutrients for people to consume. People could just print out this article as a reference for what nutrients to include in their diet. Most people know that antioxidants are good for us but they have no idea where to start. Great article! Danielle

3/10/2012 01:47:17 PM Report Abuse
Shinyhair wrote:

It's great to put a preventative article up like this. recently went to a cooking class and was sent away with a bag of herbs. I have also been trying to learn how to use these in a way that isn't too over powering (I want to be healthy, but I NEED delicious easy to digest food). I've been searching and I found another pretty good article on spices here with some other helpful advice links:

10/14/2011 06:56:13 PM Report Abuse

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