Decoding the Healthy Goodness of Your Favorite Herbs and Spices

Decoding the Healthy Goodness of Your Favorite Herbs and Spices
Spices are among the most commonly used items in the kitchen but there’s more to these flavorful and aromatic ingredients than what people may seem to think.
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Spices bring that extra boost in taste and aroma to food that some people might not notice when eating. While spices are only effective when eaten at least daily, each has its own specific health benefits. Read on to find out which additives can burn fat, ease a sore throat or help you get to sleep, and how you can incorporate them into your daily diet.


Fruit of the Elettaria cardamomum plant in the ginger family.

Health Powers: Eases belching, flatulence and indigestion; treats respiratory conditions like coughing, asthma and loss of voice; aids in the elimination of toxins through your skin.

Daily Dose: Stir a few freshly ground pinches of cardamom pods into a shot of OJ or your morning fruit salad, or mix it with white or brown rice before you boil it.


Fruit of the Capsicum annuum plant in the Solanaceae family, along with chile pepper.

Health Powers: Eliminates gas from the stomach and intestines; soothes sore throat, cold and flu symptoms; increases metabolism for weight control.

Daily Dose: Stir into a cup of hot chocolate or any sweet juice drink for a contrasting flavor kick.


Bark of a small evergreen tree.

Health Powers: Tames nausea and stomach ulcers; functions as a mild anti-inflammatory; increases insulin sensitivity to help focus fat burn.

Daily Dose: Stir into coffee/tea, yogurt, oatmeal or any boxed cereal.


Flower bud found at the base of an evergreen tree.

Health Powers: Soothes digestive tract muscles and is a potent antihistamine.

Daily Dose: Mix into your nightly ice cream treat or sneak into mustard spread.


Fruit of Myristica fragrans,an evergreen tree.

Health Powers: Improves digestion; eases the symptoms of menstruation; induces calm and sleep.

Daily Dose: Grate a small amount into applesauce or plain yogurt. (Note: It’s safe to grate the entire nut, which you can usually buy whole at the supermarket, but you never want to consume more than one nutmeg per day because too much of this potent spice can cause stomach pain, double vision and other uncomfortable reactions.)

Celery Seed

Seed of the Apium graveolens plant in the parsley family.

Health Powers: Flushes the liver of toxins; lowers blood pressure; combats water retention.

Daily Dose: Think salads—tuna, potato and egg all work, which can be tossed onto a bed of lettuce, eaten alone or spread onto bread.


Also known as cilantro; the leaves and seeds of the Coriandrum plant in the aromatic Apiaceae family.

Health Powers: Acts as a diuretic; eases seasonal allergies.

Daily Dose: Cook into couscous and quinoa, which you can store and eat with leftovers.


Seed of the Foeniculum plant in the aromatic Apiaceae family.

Health Powers: Calms bowel distress; supports milk production in nursing mothers; combats water retention.

Daily Dose: Add to canned minestrones and vegetable soups.

Photo by iStockphoto.


Leaf of the Origanum plant in the mint family.

Health Powers: Loosens mucus; helps treat respiratory illnesses; and calms indigestion.

Daily Dose: Use in any tomato-based foods, like marinara sauces, pizza and soups.


Leaf of the Thymus plant in the mint family.

Health Powers: Relaxes the muscle tissue of the gastrointestinal tract; stimulates immune system.

Daily Dose: Toss into any meat-based dishes.


Root of the Circuma plant in the ginger family.

Health Powers: Reduces inflammation (joints, airways); detoxifies the liver.

Daily Dose: Mix in with oil-and-vinegar-based salad dressings.

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