Herbs and spices are easily overlooked when we think about nutrition. The great news is that herbs and spices are little nutrition powerhouses and are an easy way to boost the flavour of your meals.
Herbs and spices – the back story
Herbs were traditionally cultivated for their healing properties and used as natural preservatives for foods and drinks. The use of herbs to flavour food is relatively new. Spices were used in medieval times to disguise food that may have spoiled and also for their unique flavour.
Three reasons you should eat more herbs and spices
- Health benefits of herbs.
Herbs contain many vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin C, iron and folate. Herbs are generally very high in antioxidants, with some herbs containing up to 1000 times the antioxidant content of fruits and vegetable.
- Health benefits of spices.
Spices are a richer source of polyphenolic compounds, which act as antioxidants and anti-cancer agents, than the much-researched red wine, tea and cocoa.
- Help decrease your salt intake.
Use herbs and spices liberally in cooking to give flavour without the need to add salt. Try these famous food and herb/spice partnerships tonight: tomatoes and basil, salmon and dill, apple and cinnamon; and pumpkin and cumin.
Fresh vs Dried
Fresh herbs straight from the garden are lovely but the good news is that dried herbs actually contain more concentrated amounts of nutrients due to the absence of water. Dried herbs also have a longer shelf life (but remember that they don’t last forever) and therefore can be a more cost-effective option than purchasing fresh herbs.