A new study released this week found that adding about a teaspoon of ginger to hot water increased feelings of fullness and helped the body burn an additional 43 calories. Other studies show that hot spices can also provide a metabolic advantage by provide small boosts in your metabolism. But the best way herbs and spices may help you lose weight is because they’re calorie-free and add flavor to your meals without adding any calories.
A pinch here and a dash there may be one of the best ways to improve your health and help you lose weight too.
Herbs and spices are the first “functional foods” because they have been grown and cultivated for thousands of years—as far back as 5000 BC–and have been used for their medicinal benefits since they were first cultivated. Today, research is showing that these culinary treasures do, in fact, provide protection against certain diseases and can improve our diet with their antioxidant punch and by enhancing flavor without any extra calories, fat, sugar or sodium.
A recent national survey conducted by McCormick Spices found that spice consumption is at an all-time high.
Today’s pantry has about 40 different spices, compared to less than 10 in the 1950s. Part of what has driven this growth is knowledge that flavor delivers more than great taste – it offers potential health benefits that make eating for wellness more achievable.
Laurie Harrsen, McCormick
The words “herb” and “spice” are often used interchangeably, but are botanically different. Herbs are generally thought of as from the leaf, while spices are any other part of the plant, like buds (e.g., cloves), bark (e.g., cinnamon), roots (e.g., ginger), berries (e.g., peppercorns) and aromatic seeds (e.g., cumin).
Small Amounts of Herbs & Spices = Big Health Benefits
And a recent study analyzed the antioxidant capacity of more than 1,000 foods in the US food supply, found that herbs and spices provide more antioxidants than most other foods. In fact of all the foods, cloves, ground oregano, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, basil, parsley, mustard, curry were some of the most concentrated antioxidant powerhouses among all foods. A teaspoon of ground cinnamon packs in as much antioxidants as a cup of pomegranate juice or ½ cup of blueberries.
Herbs and spices may also offer synergistic effects with other bioactive components of foods, thereby increasing the health payoffs. Studies show when you combine herbs and spices with other plant-based foods, like tomatoes, pasta and whole-grains, the health payoff is greater than these foods eaten without herbs or spices.
Five Ways To Spice Your Life Healthy
- Ground Cinnamon: I use this on my oatmeal, on top of my lattes and sprinkled on fruit with Greek yogurt
- Cilantro: I chop fresh cilantro into most of my dinner salads.
- Ginger: G rated or ground in stir-fry dishes, as part of Asian marinades and with fruit-based desserts. .
- Garlic: We use garlic in our salad dressings and in all of our pasta dishes.
- Fresh basil: We grow this herb and use it in salads and all of our pasta dishes.
|Herb or Spice||Potential Health Benefits||Suggested Usages|
|Garlic||Antioxidant; Lowers Cholesterol and blood pressure; Raises HDL Cholesterol; anti-inflammatory; prevents cerebral aging; Anti-clotting; boosts immunity;||World cuisine; Use for marinades, dressings, sauces; stir-fry; slow-cooked; rub for meat, fish poultry; use in salads and casseroles.|
|Ginger||Antioxidant; Improves osteoarthritis of the knee; antiemetic; anti-inflammatory; boosts immunity; antimicrobial||Asian-style cuisine; meat, fish, poultry; stir-fry, curries. Use in marinades and chutneys; desserts. Can also be used to flavor tea.|
|Lemongrass||Antioxidant; Anti-carcinogenesis (colon CA); antiinflammatory||Asian-style cuisine; soups, curries and stir-fries. Goes well with fish, shrimp and chicken.|
|Cilantro||Antioxidant; digestive aid||Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin and Mexican-style cuisine; dressings, salads and cooked dishes|
|Cinnamon||Antioxidant; blood sugar control||Middle Eastern uses in savory dishes like stews; Mediterranean, American cuisine mainly used in desserts; Mexican uses in chocolate and on hot beverages;|
|Chili||Antioxidant; increases metabolism||Asian, Mediterranean, African and Latin-inspired cuisine; use in marinades, dipping sauces and curries; soups and stews, meat, poultry, fish and egg dishes|
|Basil||Antioxidant; Inhibit lipid peroxidation; decrease inflammation||Mediterranean or Asian-style cuisine; use with tomatoes, on salads or cooked dishes; pesto|
|Dill||Antioxidant; antimicrobial||Mediterranean and American-style cuisine; with fish, sour cream; yogurt, dips, potato salads, vegetables|
|Parsley||Antioxidant; antimicrobial||Potato or pasta salads; raw or cooked with meats or vegetables|
|Oregano||Antioxidant; antimicrobial||Mediterranean-style cuisine; use with tomato, cheese and egg dishes|
|Marjoram||Antioxidant;||Mediterranean, African, Middle Eastern and American-cuisines; use with meat, fish, poultry; vegetables; breads, salad dressing; stuffings|
|Thyme||Antioxidant; inhibit bone resorption||Mediterranean-style cuisine; use in soups, casseroles, stuffings and vegetables|
|Rosemary||Antioxidant; inhibit bone resorption; anticarcinogen; antiinflammatory||Mediterranean-style cuisine; use with meat, fish and poultry; vegetables; breads; salad dressings; with rice|