The Flavor of Health: Herbs and Spices

As someone interested in Eating Naturally, you may already know the golden rule for a healthy diet: eat a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, and grains (as close to nature as possible) and enjoy whatever other foods you like—just not too much (and if it is highly processed, eat even less).

Everything else is commentary! Follow this golden rule and you can sharply lower your risks for heart disease or stroke. Concerned about memory loss or maintaining your brain power as you age? Studies continue to show that following this golden rule to healthy eating is powerfully supportive. Worried about cancer? The golden rule of eating reduces your risks for many cancers.

Whether a Mediterranean diet, the China Study diet, the Alkalizing diet, the DASH diet, the new Weight Watcher’s program, or Dr. Ornish’s “Spectrum Diet” for preventing and reversing heart disease, the golden rule of healthy eating serves as the foundation.

What is an essential element to their success? All these diets are rich in antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory micronutrients.

Blending Spices and Herbs for Antioxidant Power

Antioxidants are the vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients found mostly in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Better-known antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, as well as the mineral selenium. Other antioxidants are carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene which are responsible for adding color to many fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene is the orange in carrots and pumpkins. Lutein is abundant in leafy green vegetables. Lycopene is the red in tomatoes. Then there are flavonoids found in green tea, chocolate, grapes, berries, and cinnamon—plus the phenols found in citrus fruit, the sulfides in garlic and onions, and the thiols in broccoli and cabbage.

So what do antioxidants do? There is a lot of chemistry here, but for now understand that as a natural byproduct of using oxygen in our bodies, compounds are created that damage our cells and contribute to heart disease, cancer, and even aging itself. Antioxidants support the body’s ability to neutralize these harmful compounds.

Modern life, however, undermines the control process. Smoking and pollution as well as processed foods, deep-fried foods, and flame-broiled meats increase these harmful compounds. We also are eating fewer foods that deliver high antioxidant levels.

Where can you find the most potent sources of antioxidants? Consider this: one teaspoon of certain herbs and spices can deliver five times more antioxidant capacity than in a cup of berries, a glass of red wine, or a couple ounces of dark chocolate. Spices and herbs are Mother Nature’s most powerful antioxidants!

What is even better is that spices and herbs are easily blended. These blends then deliver multiple sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients that work together to support your body’s natural control mechanisms. Consider Indian curries, Chinese 5-spice blend, North African Ras el hanout, Arabic Zahtar, and the classic herb blends of Greek, Italian, and French cuisines!

Best of all, spices and herbs can make health foods more delicious and delicious foods healthier. So start finding new ways to bring herbs and spices into your diet at every meal: nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove in your morning cereal; oregano, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme with your lunch salad; cumin, pepper, paprika, and ginger with your dinnertime vegetables. And remember to be brave with your herbs and spices. A sprinkle here and there will not do much for either health or taste. Use a teaspoon or tablespoon to add an impact of flavor to your cooking.

Herbs/Spices Antioxidant ORAC levels in 10g

  • Basil-Dried 6100
  • Cinnamon 13140
  • Clove 29028
  • Cumin 5030
  • Garlic Powder 665
  • Ginger 3900
  • Mustard-Dry 2925
  • Nutmeg 6964
  • Oregano 17500
  • Paprika 2193
  • Parsley-Dried 7367
  • Pepper (Black) 7367
  • Pepper (Hot) 1967
  • Rosemary 16528
  • Thyme 15738
  • Turmeric 12700

Fruits/Veggies Antioxidant ORAC levels in 50g

  • Apples 1350
  • Asparagus 820
  • Blackberry 2950
  • Blueberry 2350
  • Broccoli Cooked 1080
  • Cabbage Red Raw 1245
  • Cabbage Red Cooked 1575
  • Cherries 1850
  • Cranberries 4545
  • Grapes-Red 920
  • Lettuce-Romaine 510
  • Oranges 1050
  • Peaches 960
  • Pears 1000
  • Prune 4030
  • Raspberries 2535

Beans/Nuts Antioxidant ORAC levels in 50g

  • Black Beans 4245
  • Kidney Beans 4250
  • Lentils 3650
  • Navy Beans 805
  • Split Peas 370
  • Almonds 2250
  • Hazelnuts 4850
  • Pecans 9000
  • Peanuts 1600
  • Pistachios 4000
  • Walnuts 6525

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