Traditional cures from plants and herbs have been used by herbalists and apothecaries throughout the centuries. Herbs do more than simply adding flavour and colour to your favourite dishes, their healing and restorative powers are pretty impressive too. Most of us have herbs and spices in our kitchen cabinet somewhere and they often get added to recipes and culinary creations.
Herbs and spices have been used since ancient times for their medicinal properties, mostly concentrated into teas and tinctures. More recently, their healthful value as a food ingredient has been realized.
Interestingly, most of them have health benefits attached to them, not to mention they improve the taste of so many foods! The problem is, most herbs and spices have been sitting on a grocery store shelf for too long, and thus they don’t have much nutritional value left. I personally get any herbs fresh and spices I try and source organically and locally which minimizes the shelf life.
When travelling to East Asia the use of herbs and spices there is essential to any dish. Crushed into a curry paste, slowly cooked into a stew or sprinkled freshly on a dish. Herbs and spices have been and still is such a huge part of cooking and healing. This is also true for Europe and if you ask anyone from the older generation I am sure they will be able to tell you a lot more about the use of herbs and tinctures.
Mint is a great appetizer or palate cleanser, and it promotes digestion. It also soothes stomachs in cases of indigestion or inflammation. When you feel sick to your stomach, drinking a cup of mint tea can give you relief. I love using it in salads, tea and smoothies for that extra fresh taste.
Its uses in food preparation is only the tip of the iceberg. Unbeknownst to many people, coriander is packed with potential health benefits that most people completely miss when they toss this garnish into the garbage after eating their meal. It has eleven components of essential oils, six types of acids (including ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin-C), minerals and vitamins, each having a number of beneficial properties. In other words what a herby super star! I love using it as a fresh garnish on pastas, salads and curries!
Parsley and other green herbs and vegetables that contain high amounts of chlorophyll have been shown to be effective at blocking the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines, which are generated when grilling foods at a high temperature. If you tend to like your grilled foods charred, make sure to pair them with green vegetables to help negate these effects.
Dill is used a lot in Scandinavian cooking and it is a personal favourite. I use it a lot for dressings, sauces and dips. It’s a good source of calcium, manganese and iron and also contains flavonoids, known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. So all in all very good for you!
“Some herbs decrease inflammation,” says Arguinzoni-Gil. “This inflammation might be found in your joints, muscles, stomach, intestines, nerves, and more. A lot of these plants work on decreasing the activity of pro-inflammatory cells so people experience less stiffness, irritation, and less pain. Some herbs with this property include turmeric, cayenne, boswellia, and licorice.”
Whichever you choose make sure you spice up your life with these amazing gems of goodness.