Our food is made significantly tastier by the herbs and spices used to season it. If you’ve been enduring bland, tasteless meals until now, then you have to elevate your culinary experience by adding aromatic herbs that leave your taste buds wanting more! Don’t worry, we’re here to help you out by creating a list of the healthiest herbs that smell and taste great while boosting your vitamin and antioxidant intake.
One word of caution before we begin, it’s always important to consult with your doctor before changing or supplementing your diet. While many of the health benefits of herbs have lots of promising research, you shouldn’t take our advice over trained professionals. We’re gardeners, after all, not medical doctors.
Mint is refreshing and has been used for centuries due to its soothing medicinal properties. This cooling herb has several important nutrients, such as vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium. At the same time, mint contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that have been noted to be useful in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other inflammatory digestive disorders.
Mint tea is often drunk during or after heavy meals due to its ability to soothe upset stomachs and reduce digestive discomfort. Studies have noted that compounds found in this herb may help relax the digestive tract muscles and improve the flow of bile, which aids in the digestion of fats.
In our case, we love adding mint to salads, whether they’re sweet or savory. Drinks and beverages, such as lemonade, feel a bit more elevated when you add mint to them. However, if you want it pure, then drink mint tea with some honey!
Many people love the smell of garlic, so it’s only fitting that it should land on this list. Garlic is rich in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, and manganese. It has been known to boost the immune system while possessing antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.
Plus, garlic has been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which are factors in reducing the risk of heart disease. On top of these, garlic has anti-inflammatory capabilities, which may help prevent chronic diseases, such as arthritis and even certain types of cancer.
Furthermore, garlic may also improve cognitive function and reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. So, the next time you eat your pasta, pizza, and other food loaded with garlic, just know that these cloves are helping you get healthier.
This flavorful herb is full of beneficial compounds, such as thymol, carvacrol, and rosmarinic acid, that give it its distinctive aroma and flavor, as well as provide numerous health benefits. Aside from these, thyme oil has been shown to have powerful antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects. It’s also been known to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
Thyme also contains antioxidants, which are compounds that protect cells from damage. These antioxidants have been studied in terms of their effect on various chronic diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.
We love adding thyme to poultry recipes although we also add this herb to tomato-based sauces, soups, and stews. Add some thyme to your roasted vegetables, and you might be surprised at how well the sweet and earthy thyme brings out their natural flavors!
Pungent and flavorful, oregano has been used for centuries in cooking and traditional medicine. Found mostly in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine, this herb has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity due to its various health benefits. Compounds like carvacrol, thymol, and rosmarinic acid have been found to have antimicrobial properties, which fight against infections.
Additionally, oregano is rich in antioxidants, which may help reduce inflammation and protect against oxidative damage in the body. Ongoing research has suggested that oregano may reduce inflammation and pain in osteoarthritis patients.
At the same time, it has been suggested that it regulates blood sugar levels while inhibiting the growth of breast and colon cancer cells. Oregano works incredibly well in pizzas, pasta, and soups if you’re looking for a hearty and healthy meal!
Add some spice to your life by embracing the spicy chili pepper! Chili contains an active compound called capsaicin, which has been shown to inhibit the activity of certain inflammatory proteins, reducing inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases, such as arthritis and heart disease. This results in reduced risks of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
At the same time, capsaicin is used in topical pain relief creams and patches due to its ability to reduce pain by blocking pain receptors in the body. On top of that, capsaicin has been suggested to boost metabolism and aid in weight loss by burning more calories and fat. Finally, chili has been suggested to have anticarcinogenic properties on certain types of cancer cells.
Being lovers of all things spicy, we add chili almost to everything we eat. Have you tried drizzling a chili-based honey dressing over salads and even ice cream? Thank us later.
This Mediterranean herb has compounds that are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in nature. One of the most well-known health benefits of rosemary is its ability to improve cognitive function and memory, with people reporting increased levels of concentration and speed of recall in healthy adults.
Rosemary has been shown to have anti-inflammatory characteristics as well, which help reduce the risks of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Ongoing studies lean toward rosemary supporting healthy digestion, healthy hair growth, and reducing the risk of liver damage. Plus, early research on this herb suggests that it may have antimicrobial properties that protect us from infections.
Try rubbing lamb or beef with some rosemary rub before roasting it and you just might end up eating more than you expected! However, if you prefer vegetables over meats, then rosemary works equally well in vegan soups, stews, and sauces. Our favorite way to add rosemary to our diets is in bread, marinades, and roasted vegetables.
This tuberous root herb has been used extensively in many cultures throughout the ages. Ginger has a unique flavor and aroma and contains bioactive compounds, such as gingerol, shogaol, and zingerone, that are responsible for its many health benefits.
Ginger has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the risks of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Its rich, distinctive scent has been noted to be particularly effective in reducing nausea and vomiting, making it helpful for pregnant women, chemotherapy patients, and those with motion sickness.
It has also been suggested that ginger helps regulate blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing markers of inflammation in people with type 2 diabetes. On top of that, ginger has been studied for its part in reducing cholesterol levels by reducing the risk of blood clots and lowering blood pressure, resulting in improved heart health.
Try adding ginger to stir-fries, soups, and marinades for a bit of sweetness and spice. Soups and smoothies, which are on opposite ends, benefit from some added ginger. However, the best way to take in some ginger is through tea, with or without honey.
Flavorful and nutritious, basil is beloved for its aroma and taste. It contains essential nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, calcium, and potassium. In addition to these vitamins and minerals, basil has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in its oils and compounds such as eugenol, linalool, and rosmarinic acid.
These compounds have been shown to reduce inflammation, fight against infections, and protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals. Some studies have also shown that consuming basil may help reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Plus, this herb has been suggested to be very helpful in regulating blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol levels, and improving blood flow.
In addition, basil may have antimicrobial properties, which means it can help fight against harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. It may also help improve digestion and reduce digestive issues, such as bloating, gas, and constipation.
We love going international when it comes to basil. Caprese salads, Margherita pizzas, Vietnamese pho, and Thai green curries are just some dishes it enhances, and these are just the ones we can remember off the top of our heads. We have to agree though that every Italian marinara sauce needs at least several basil leaves!
Used mainly as a garnish, parsley is surprisingly one of the healthiest herbs on this list. It is a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and potassium. Parsley has been known to improve digestion due to its compounds that reduce bloating, constipation, and other digestive issues.
Parsley also has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation throughout the body. Another benefit of parsley is its potential to support healthy bones. It is a good source of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health. Vitamin K helps regulate calcium absorption and may help prevent osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions.
The next time you get some parsley, don’t just use it as a garnish. Parsley is perfect for Tabbouleh and other Middle Eastern soups and stews. Chimichurri wouldn’t be the same without parsley, nor would quiches, frittatas, and meatballs. Plus, parsley has the amazing effect of making your breath fresh after chewing on it!
Used in culinary creations, as well as traditional medicine, sage has been known to treat a wide range of ailments while being fragrant and flavorful. Sage contains compounds, such as rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid, that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Research has also suggested that sage may help improve cognitive function and memory, especially in older adults. Additionally, sage may help regulate blood sugar levels while improving insulin sensitivity, making it potentially beneficial for people living with type 2 diabetes.
We use sage quite a lot, especially when roasting poultry, such as chicken or turkey, although sage pairs exceptionally well with pork chops and roast pork tenderloin as well. We also add sage to risotto, vegetable dishes, pasta, soups, and stews for that added depth of flavor.
This tuberous root herb looks incredibly similar to fresh ginger, except that it does not have the ginger’s distinctive scent and taste. Turmeric is often used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines, and they may be on to something. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Curcumin has been shown to have a variety of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation in the body, which can help relieve symptoms of such conditions as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. It may also help improve brain function and reduce the risk of certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Studies have also shown that curcumin may have anti-cancer properties, as it may help prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells. Additionally, curcumin has been shown to help improve heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease and lowering cholesterol levels.
Turmeric is usually sold in powdered form, although you can get some fresh tubers from Asian markets. Fresh or powdered, we love adding turmeric to curry dishes, especially if they contain rice, lentils, and vegetables that soak up all the wonderful flavors.
However, you might be surprised that turmeric can also be added to sweet treats, such as smoothies, cakes, pies, and other desserts. It just goes to show that with a little creativity, you can always incorporate healthy herbs into any meal you love!
Do Dried Herbs Have The Same Health Benefits as Fresh Ones?
A common question we get is whether you can enjoy the same health benefits when using dried herbs. Dried herbs are popular as they are easy to cook with, generally require no prep, and can be stored far longer than fresh herbs can be.
The short answer is that while dried herbs generally lose some nutritional value, they still do have many of the same benefits. While you should reach for fresh herbs when you can, you’ll still enjoy many of the same benefits when cooking with dried herbs.