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Shake up your plate with herbs and spices

Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean flavorless food. If you’re accustomed to sprinkling everything with salt, trade in your shaker for herbs and spices. Doing so will help lower your blood pressure, while pleasing your palate with interesting flavor combinations. What’s more, many herbs boast healing effects. Try cooking with:

  • Garlic. It’s heart-healthy and versatile, appearing as a star ingredient in cuisines as diverse as Mexican, Indian and Chinese. Some research suggests that garlic can lower cholesterol and slow the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Garlic reduces your blood’s ability to clot, so beware of garlic supplements if you use blood-thinning medications or have a bleeding disorder.
    • Serving suggestion: Mince garlic and sauté in olive oil. Serve with mixed vegetables over pasta.
  • Ginger. When you’re feeling your worst, ginger may help you return to normal. The herb is often used to ward off nausea during pregnancy, but may also work for motion sickness, chemotherapy and postsurgical recovery.
    • Serving suggestion: When nausea hits, eat gingersnaps, drink ginger ale made with real ginger or brew a cup of fresh ginger tea, using the root.
  • Cinnamon. Research finds that cinnamon contains high levels of antioxidants, so you can generously sprinkle it atop your mocha latte or tea.
    • Serving suggestion: Add cinnamon to anything from French toast to cooked carrots for an exotic and sweet flavor.
  • Turmeric. One component of turmeric—curcumin—may have the ability to ward off cancer. Preliminary animal and lab research suggests that it may slow the spread of cancer by helping shrivel the blood vessels that allow cancerous tumors to grow. Historically, turmeric has also been used to treat arthritis and heartburn.
    • Serving suggestion: Add this bright yellow spice to yellow dishes, such as egg salad, or incorporate it into a marinade or spice rub before grilling.