Health Benefits of Herbs and Spices

Ana Campos, Principal Librarian, Central Library Services,
A table of herbs and spices

Herbs and spices have been used to improve and maintain health by people around the world for thousands of years. Adding some spice to your life enhances not just your food, but also your overall well-being.

When we think of a great meal, our imaginations run wild with flavors, textures, and aromas. Rarely do we associate an incredible meal with what the specific ingredients can do for our health and well-being. Everything we eat, for better or for worse, has an impact on our bodies. Bottom line, we can control our levels of health by enjoying nutritious foods.

Research has shown that incorporating fruits and vegetables in our daily diet can improve our well-being on many levels. But that is not the only way to increase the nutritional value of your meals. Adding herbs and spices to season your foods can also give your diet a boost of extra vitamins and nutrients.

Integrative Health Specialist, Dr. Desmonette Hazly, extensively studied herbs and spices and how they are used globally for health and wellness among different cultures and incorporated into daily food preparation. “When we think of improving the nutritional value of our diets, most of us do not think of using herbs and spices. We associate herbs and spices with just improving the flavor of food, but they can also contribute to our overall health and wellness when added to meals regularly”. Green leafy herbs and pungent spices not only give our favorite foods flavor, but they can also assist the body in maintaining optimal health and managing various chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Dr. Hazly instructs workshops regularly on the benefits of herbs and spices and has some basic tips for exploring the use of herbs and spices in daily meal preparation:

  • Remember to check with your doctor before you begin using an herb or spice that can impact your health condition.
  • Be aware of herbs and spices that can trigger an allergic reaction.
  • When introducing herbs and spices into your diet, remember that less is more. Use only small amounts as recipes require. Using too many herbs or spices not only can ruin the taste of your food but can also make you ill.
  • Dried herbs and spices taste best when added during cooking because their flavors evenly infuse the food.
  • Add fresh herbs and spices at the end of cooking so they will keep their flavor is still fresh and vibrant. Finish soup with chopped fresh parsley or sprinkle fresh dill over a chicken salad to add color and extra flavor.

Adding some spice to your life can be a great adventure!

Further Reading

Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Heal
Foret, Rosalee de la

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine
Chevallier, Andrew

Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine & Home Remedies: Two Essential Home Health Books in One.

The Woman's Herbal Apothecary: 200 Natural Remedies for Healing, Hormone Balance, Beauty and Longevity, and Creating Calm
Pursell, J. J.

The Integrative Guide to Good Health

Body Into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care
Groves, Maria Noel