Several herbs and spices in the kitchen larder have therapeutic properties and can be added to your meals. Read about the benefits of our 5 favourites. 

You may not know this, but herbs and spices add to the nutritious value of your meals. Aside from improving the way your food tastes, many also have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.

But to get the most out of them, just ensure that herbs and spices are as fresh as possible! Here are some suggestions on how you can include our 5 favourites, in your meals:

#1 Cinnamon

This aromatic spice is great for regulating blood sugar and triglyceride levels. A pinch of cinnamon can be added to a cake recipe, sprinkled on toast or a banana, or in a cup of tea. Remember this is a versatile spice, which can also be added to savoury dishes such as curries.

Cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon on old wooden table.

#2 Turmeric

Turmeric, or haldi, has been used in Indian cuisine for centuries. The active ingredient, curcumin, is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory herbs, often used to alleviate joint pain. And guess what else? You can include haldi in your daily fare very easily.

You can make a turmeric latte by gently heating some coconut/almond milk, adding a dash of ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric to this mixture. Just make sure you don’t let the mixture boil.  Also, if you’re feeling adventurous, add a dash of black pepper: research shows that curcumin is better absorbed in the presence of black pepper.

Ground turmeric on a wooden spoon with fresh turmeric root in the background

#3 Cayenne

Cayenne first came into the spotlight when Beyoncé declared that she was on a juice cleanse with lemonade and cayenne pepper, and maple syrup, to lose 20 pounds for her role in Dreamgirls.

This may sound faddish, but there’s a lot to be said about the therapeutic properties of Cayenne. Like cinnamon, this spice has thermogenic properties and kick starts the body.

Also, studies suggest that cayenne pepper reduces the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Just get the benefits by adding this spicy herb to your savory dishes bit by bit, and see if you can handle the heat.

Red hot chili Cayenne pepper fresh and dried powdered spice ready to use on wooden background

#4 Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha has been used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine, since it has well known adaptogenic properties: it helps the body adapt to stressful situations better by reducing cortisol levels.

If you look at stress-relieving supplements at the pharmacy, chances are you will find this herb listed as a key ingredient. Traditionally, 1 teaspoon of this herb is taken with equal parts of honey and ghee to promote vitality.

Or, take a Ashwagandha supplement, in capsule form. Be warned though, ashwagandha literally translates to “smell of the horse” and is a pungent-smelling herb that takes getting used to.

Organic Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) roots. Macro close up background texture. Top view.

#5 Garlic

Most of us either absolutely hate or love garlic. If you’re in the latter group that’s great because garlic is great for boosting the immune system, lowers blood cholesterol, and can help you recover from some illnesses faster.

Though best eaten raw, freshly minced garlic cloves can also be added to meals. In the end, garlic adds a delicious depth to soups, meat marinades, salads, and sautéed vegetables. So, you are trying to get past the smell, try adding small sautéed amounts to your food while it’s still cooking. Start small, with 1-2 cloves a day.

Garlic. Garlic Cloves and Garlic Bulb in vintage wooden bowl.