What Are The Benefits Of Cooking With Herbs And Spices?

gut health nutrients whole foods Jul 17, 2022
There are lots of wonderful reasons to up the ante on cooking with herbs and spices. It has been said that the mark of a good cook is shown by the amount of spices they have in their cupboard.
Spices and herbs have been in use for centuries both for culinary and medicinal purposes. Spices protect us from acute and chronic diseases. They also enhance the flavor, aroma, and color of food and beverages. Spices and herbs are often used as alternative therapy. Spices and herbs carry a lot of health benefits. These include being: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumorigenic, anti carcinogenic, and glucose- and cholesterol-lowering as well as properties that affect cognition and mood.

Herbs And Spices Make Our Gut Super Happy

Spices and herbs such as: clove, rosemary, sage, oregano, and cinnamon, are excellent sources of antioxidants with their high content of phenolic compounds. In fact, spices have higher antioxidant amounts than any other foods! These compounds, especially polyphenols, can do amazing things in our bodies. Starting with our gut bacteria, it can fortify good bacteria to fight harmful gut bacteria. It can also encourage growth of the good bacteria Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus to protect our intestinal barrier. It can also encourage production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid and lead to anti-inflammation within the body, especially for those who suffer from diabetes and GI diseases. Frequent consumption of meals made with spices is also linked to a lower risk of death from cancer and heart and respiratory system diseases.

Herbs And Spices Can Mitigate Harmful Compounds In Certain Foods

There have been some preliminary studies that are pointing to herbs and spices being able to mitigate the effects of harmful compounds like heteroamino cyclones (HCAs) found when grilling or browning meats. Rosemary and turmeric have the most significant impact of the spices studied for its impact on grilling beef patties at high heat temperatures.

Tips For Using Herbs And Spices When Cooking

The sign of a good cook is knowing how to flavor with spices. Here are some great starting points to get you on the road to being your own sous chef.
Try using individual spices instead of spice blends to help you learn how to use more spices when cooking (plus, many spice blends have unnecessary fillers). If you are not comfortable using spices, start by adding garlic powder, onion powder, and salt to every savory dish. Then add a little cinnamon and cloves to your sweet breakfast dishes.
Once you have mastered the basics, try adding in some tumeric and pepper to other savory dishes-like eggs (or a tofu scramble), roasted veggies, or soups. Turmeric mixed with a little pepper increases absorption rates and has significant anti-inflammatory effects. Adding dill or cilantro to your salads is also a yummy addition. Basil or oregano is great with tomato-based dishes, and we love adding rosemary or thyme to my baked potato fries and gravies.
Believe it or not, spices have the most antioxidants out of all foods! So even a pinch not only adds a little flavor, but a huge boost in health promoting benefits. Here are a few spices you definitely need to have in your pantry:


Cinnamon has anti-viral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It can support gut health because it has prebiotic properties. It helps lower blood sugar levels and risk of type 2 diabetes.Cinnamon helps manage your blood pressure and risk of heart disease. Cinnamon is also good for the aging brain. Compounds in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of certain proteins that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Cinnamon is also high in antioxidants.


There are two types of cumin- common cumin and black cumin. Both offer a host of benefits due to the bioactive compounds contained therein. The root of its health benefits, utilized to treat a variety of diseases, is a compound known as thymoquinone (TQ) as well as other phenols and flavonoids. Cumin globally used to treat diarrhea, dyspepsia, diabetes and cancer. Cumin also has a high concentration of phenols that contribute to a happy gut as well.


Nutmeg has many health benefits, including its ability to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, strengthen cognitive function, detoxify the body, boost skin health, ease oral conditions, reduce insomnia, increase immune system function, and prevent leukemia, and improve blood circulation. It also contains powerful antioxidants.


Cloves are full of antioxidants–one of the highest amounts of all the spices. These antioxidant compounds help your body to fight free radicals, which damage your cells and can lead to disease. By removing free radicals from your system, the antioxidants found in cloves can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Cloves have also been shown to have antimicrobial properties, meaning they can help stop the growth of microorganisms like bacteria.


Turmeric has the ability to hunt free radicals down and inhibit breakdown of the healthy fats poly-unsaturated fatty acids that cause oxidative stress. Using turmeric has been linked to inhibiting HCA-7 growth, which is a marker for colorectal cancer. Turmeric also has protective effects against cardiovascular disease and reducing cholesterol levels (but increasing HDL cholesterol). If you have pain and discomfort from GI distress, turmeric extract can very well be a great thing to consider. One of the other many benefits of turmeric includes providing blood sugar control.


Thyme helps fight respiratory infections and is a natural expectorant that serves as an antiseptic and helps expulse mucus. It's also good for soothing coughs and fighting nasal congestion. Others have used thyme tinctures as an effective acne treatment. Thyme can also help lower blood pressure, and was shown to affect neuron activity in ways that boost mood and feelings of well-being.


Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Rosemary can help boost the immune system and it improves blood circulation. Rosemary is considered a cognitive stimulant and is good for your brain. It can help improve memory performance and quality. It is also known to boost alertness, intelligence, and focus.


Peppermint may relieve digestive symptoms, such as gas, bloating and indigestion. peppermint acts as a muscle relaxant and pain reliever, it may diminish certain types of headaches and migraines, relieve menstrual cramps, and help you relax before bed. peppermint has antibacterial properties that help kill germs that cause dental plaque — which may improve your breath. Peppermint has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, peppermint tea may fight clogged sinuses due to infections, the common cold and allergies. Peppermint tea may improve energy levels and reduce daytime fatigue. Smelling peppermint was found to improve memory and alertness.

Spices Are A Daily Essential Food

At PlantWhys we deem spices and herbs as one of the daily essential foods we recommend due to its impactful health benefits. It doesn’t take a lot to add them for flavor to our foods. Let us know if there are any spices you think we should learn more about or add to our list of pantry essentials!
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Jaksevicius, A., Carew, M., Mistry, C., Modjtahedi, H., & Opara, E. I. (2017). Inhibitory Effects of Culinary Herbs and Spices on the Growth of HCA-7 Colorectal Cancer Cells and Their COX-2 Expression. Nutrients, 9(10), 1051. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9101051

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