Adding herbs is an inexpensive and simple way to boost the flavor and nutritional value of your meal without adding a lot of calories. With such distinct flavors, it’s easy to take your favorite recipes to a whole new level. Experiment with one or a few of these 10 herbs that will help your waistline without hurting your health.
Disease cannot survive in an alkaline environment, but instead thrives in an acidic one. Similarly, all disease begins with some form of inflammation. Basil- often referred to as “king of herbs”- is highly anti-inflammatory thanks to its oils, such as eugenol, citral, and limonene, to name a few. These oils have also have anti-bacterial properties. Have an anti-aging routine? Add basil, as it contains several antioxidant compounds like orientin, vicenin–both of which have been shown in rat studies to prevent oxidative damage in the liver. This finding was published in Journal of American Science in 2011.
Basil is often added to tomato-based soups and dishes with tomatoes, as the two are complementary in flavor. Drop a few fresh leaves in boiling water to make basil tea, which is said to help relieve nausea.
Commonly found in South Indian and Sri Lankan dishes, this spice is rich in nutrients that stimulate digestion. It is antispasmodic, helping to ensure that the intestines keep the food moving the way it’s supposed to. This benefit has been shown in a 1996 publication of Pharmacological Research. Cardamom counteracts excess stomach acid, stimulates bile production, and reduction of gastric juices. Keep in mind, proper digestion is the key to keeping the weight off, since better absorption of nutrients results in less feelings of hunger.
Use cardamom as flavoring base for coffee drinks and teas. Try adding some cardamom seeds to rice pudding, frozen yogurt, or over a fresh fruit salad. As a general rule of thumb, use this spice to blur the line between sweet and savory recipes.
If you love cilantro, you must add this herb to your weight loss plan, particularly if you’re counting calories. At only 1 calorie per ¼ cup of fresh cilantro, it’s a smart way to add flavor to your meals! Furthermore, cilantro is full of essential nutrients to optimize metabolic processes, keep you full, and less likely to eat empty calories. It’s high in Vitamins A, C, and K- all of which your body needs everyday.
In addition, cilantro has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Stems and leaves contain antioxidants like quercetin and keampferol, while its leaves and seeds contain anti-inflammatory compounds like borneol and linalool. Recently, a study in the Indian Journal of Medical Research found that rats with rheumatoid arthritis that were given cilantro extract had reduced swelling and less inflammation than the rats who received steroidal treatments.
Fresh cilantro is a must for any salsa recipe. Make cilantro vinaigrette by combining a handful of cilantro with one part lemon juice, 2 parts olive oil, then salt and pepper. Finally, try substituting cilantro for parsley in a tabouleh salad for a fresh change.
A favorite in the dessert world, cinnamon is ironically good for diabetics. Recent studies show its promise in helping diabetic patients by improving the action of insulin. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007 found that in healthy subjects, consuming 6 grams of cinnamon reduced the glucose response after a meal, most likely due to slowed emptying of the stomach’s contents. Other studies have shown that cinnamon can lower triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. In addition, cinnamon is thought to have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, as well aid in the treatment of rheumatism, some menstrual disorders, ulcers, indigestion, and diarrhea.
Sprinkle cinnamon liberally over fruits or desserts. It can also be added to enhance the flavor of coffee. Throwing just a pinch into curry-based (or similar in flavor) dishes adds a surprisingly good punch to the overall taste.
Best known for being sushi’s partner, ginger is a powerful digestive aid and antimicrobial herb. Ginger root is particularly potent, containing phenolic compounds like gingerols, zingerone, and shogaols, which help digestion by maintaining the tone of intestinal muscles and neutralizing excess acidity without abdominal irritation.
Traditionally, it has also been used as an anti-inflammatory and painkiller, helping to treat arthritis, chronic muscular pains, even respiratory issues from allergies. In a 2005 article published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, authors discovered that ginger modulates biochemical pathways related to chronic inflammation Other studies have shown that it may help relieve pregnancy-related nausea, motion sickness, migraine headaches.
Boil ginger root slices in water (add lemon juice and honey, if desired) to help with indigestion, diarrhea, and sore throat. A dash of ground ginger complements the flavor of sweet potatoes, and surprisingly, tastes great with peaches!
This herb goes beyond flavoring: whether it’s consumed or applied topically, peppermint has various health benefits, due to its active ingredients: menthol, menthol acetate, and menthone. Peppermint is used as a digestive aid, remedy for colic, and provide relief for irritable bowel syndrome.
Researchers in Germany found that among healthy subjects, peppermint oil acts a digestive aid by having a relaxing effect on the gallbladder and by slowing down the transit time of food in the small intestine – where most of the absorption takes place. Their findings were published in a February 2003 volume of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Peppermint is also high in dietary fiber- a must for any weight loss meal plan.
Add a few chopped peppermint leaves to your salad for a refreshing twist. You may also make mint tea by itself, or add to your favorite existing tea. Add a few finely chopped leaves to salad for a refreshing twist. For a healthy snack, mix organic yogurt with some freshly ground mint leaves, some cumin, and a dash of salt.
It’s long been used as an antimicrobial and anti-fungal agent, but oregano is rich in iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium- all of which support cardiovascular health and promote healthy metabolism. It’s also full of antioxidants like manganese, copper, Vitamins C and A, and beta carotene. According to scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, oregano has 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 12 times more than oranges, and 4 times more than blueberries.
Oregano is also believed to be a digestive aid, acting on the motility of the gastrointestinal tract, and on the secretion of digestive juices. Lastly, it is an excellent source of dietary fiber- just 100 grams provides 107% of RDA, or 42.8 grams of fiber.
No pizza is complete without oregano, so sprinkle liberally! Season a tomato-and-mozzarella salad with oregano, then drizzle with some olive oil. For soups, make oregano ice cubes: oregano covered with water or whatever broth you need for the soup, then frozen in ice trays.
What once was believed to ward off bad influences, rosemary, as it turns out, may ward off unwanted weight. It’s full of B-vitamins, which play a significant role in the way your body metabolizes carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Without them, some metabolic processes may not work properly, if at all.
Rosemary also has antioxidant abilities, as it contains lots of Vitamin C (100 grams contains about 37% of the RDA), and the mineral manganese (100 grams contains 40% of the RDA). A study in Finland that was published in a 2006 volume of Molecular Nutrition & Food Research suggested that rosemary contained compounds that are able to counteract the harmful oxidation that occurs with heating extra virgin olive oil.
Whether soups, salads, baked vegetables, or meat dishes, rosemary usually complements tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchinis. Rosemary also goes extremely well with lamb, especially when combined with lemon juice and garlic. For sweet-lovers, try sprinkling rosemary over some frozen yogurt or mousse.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, but a tiny amount goes a long way, both in flavor and in its health benefits. Studies have been published suggesting saffron’s role in the management of PMS, Alzheimer’s Disease and other neuro-inflammatory conditions, age-related macular degeneration, and depression- just to name a few.
A study published in Nutrition Research in May 2010 followed mildly overweight women who made no changes to their diet except for taking 176.5mg of extract from the saffron stigma (the part of the plant used for consumption) once a day. Compared to other mildly overweight women, the women who took saffron had reduced snacking frequency and increased feelings of satiety (feeling full) after 8 weeks.
Tea is an easy way to enjoy saffron: just drop five or six strands into 1-2 cups of boiling water. Add a few strands to water before making rice, and you’ll love the aroma as the rice cooks, not to mention the flavor. Saffron can also be lightly sprinkled over some cream-based desserts.
A favorite among the French, this herb is popular for its antiseptic properties, helping to fight a variety of infections. Thyme is an immune-booster, as it’s loaded with Vitamins C and A. Researchers from the University of Brighton, East Sussex, found that thyme oil was affective in killing MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staph aureus), which is otherwise resistant to regular antibiotics. The findings were published in International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics in 2010. Thyme is also loaded with B-vitamins (see section on rosemary).
Thyme is excellent in braised recipes and stews. Add to vegetables before roasting them, or throw into a marinade for poultry recipes, particularly those calling for lemon and/or garlic. Throw some in scrambled eggs to start your morning off right.
Say goodbye to bland diet foods, and say hello to mouth-watering meals by giving these herbs a try.
To find out more about how you can boost your health, you can go to the next page and watch my video on ‘3 Alkaline Secrets to revitalize your health and body’.
About the Author:
Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice.
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