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Optimize Your Health With 10 Herbs and Spices

Optimize Your Health With 10 Herbs and Spices

With spices and herbs, big benefits come in small packages. They may be tiny in size but they pack a big punch, both in flavor and in nutritional value. Not only do spices add delicious tastes and robust aromas to meals, but they are rich in antioxidants, which lends to their medicinal traits. Studies show that they may even prevent diseases like arthritis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Here are ten spices and herbs you should always keep stocked in your kitchen.


What’s Inside: vitamin K, potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron, and vitamin A

Benefits: reduces inflammation, fights bacterial infections, supports bone health

How to Use: Add basil to tomatoes and crushed fresh garlic, drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a touch of sea salt and pepper for a tasty appetizer or snack.

Black Mustard Seed

What’s Inside: folate, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin A, essential oils

Benefits: reduces inflammation, prevents arthritis, helps with painful joints, fights the common cold

How to Use: Heat up coconut or olive oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds until they start to pop (this releases the essential oils and nutrients). Add veggies, tofu or rice to the seeds to make a delightful dish.


What’s Inside: capsaicin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, vitamin E

Benefits: reduces inflammation, prevents cardiovascular disease, boosts immunity

How to Use: Add a pinch of cayenne to soups, sauces, and smoothies for a little spicy kick!

Cilantro (the leafy part of Coriander)

What’s Inside: iron, magnesium, manganese, essential oils, phytochemicals such as limonene, camphor and quercetin

Benefits: fights bacterial infections, neutralizes free radicals, reduces stress and anxiety

How to Use: Packed with antioxidants, ultra low in calories, and bursting with flavor, cilantro is a great addition to just about any plant-based dish such as rice and beans, casseroles, and soups. 


What’s Inside: cinnamaldehyde

Benefits: enhances insulin sensitivity, regulates blood sugar, fights bacterial infection

How to Use: Add cinnamon to your morning cup of Joe, steep cinnamon sticks and sip as a tea, and add cinnamon to your morning oatmeal.


What’s Inside: cuminaldehyde, thymol, iron, magnesium

Benefits: fights bacterial infection, relieves stomach ulcers, controls blood sugar, aids in digestion

How to Use: Toss ground cumin or cumin seeds with olive oil and vegetables. Roast the mixture in the oven for an enjoyable side dish.


What’s Inside: allicin, manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C

Benefits: fights bacterial, viral and fungal infections

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How to Use: Crush or chop fresh garlic to stimulate the release of allicin. Cook lightly, but don’t overcook (as it may deactivate the allicin) and enjoy in soups, sautés, or baked by itself.


What’s Inside: gingerol

Benefits: aids in digestion, boosts immunity, fights viral infections, reduces inflammation

How to Use: Make ginger tea by steeping fresh ginger in water. Juice fresh ginger with turmeric and lemon. Add fresh or powdered ginger to stir fries.  

Oregano Oil

What’s Inside: carvacol, thymol, rosmarinic acid, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E

Benefits: prevents foodborne illness, fights superbug infections (MRSA), fights upper respiratory infection, boosts immunity, prevents urinary tract infections, alleviates rheumatoid arthritis

How to Use: Add fresh oregano leaves to salads, pasta dishes and soups.


What’s Inside: curcumin (the compound that gives turmeric it’s gorgeous hue and its medicinal powers)

Benefits: prevents Alzheimer’s disease, reduces inflammation, prevents cancer

How to use: When using turmeric in recipes, combine it with black pepper and/or healthy fats to maximize curcumin’s absorption.

About Nichole Dandrea-Russert, MS, RD

Nichole Dandrea-Russert, MS, RD is a dietitian nutritionist and yoga instructor who believes that eating plant-based whole foods are the foundation to healthy holistic living. She also believes that chocolate should be its own food group. She created nicobella organics chocolate to let people know that plant-based eating can be delicious, and uses the nicobella platform to help inspire people to be more kind to their bodies, the earth and to animals. When not in chocolate-world you can find her volunteering at a local animal shelter, teaching a yoga class or hiking with her husband, Ricky, and dog, Isabella.

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