Herbs and Spices have taken their rightful place on the new Healthy Eating Pyramid, released by Nutrition Australia, this week.
It is Nutrition Australia's hope that this pyramid will help combat the growing myths and misunderstandings brought about by the increasing Fad diet trends.
The lower and largest layer of the pyramid, which should make up 70% of your daily intake, includes the three plant-based food groups,vegetables and legumes, fruits and grains, and does not neglect to mention the inclusion of herbs and spices, which should be enjoyed at your leisure.
Let's take a look at just a handful of delicious reasons to permanently add herbs and spices to your menu plan:
Sage- memory enhancer, Sage is rich in rosmarinic acid which helps reduce inflammation in the body and has a potent antioxidant action. This health-promoting herb can also help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and has been traditionally used by menopausal women to ease hot flushes.Oregano- is a rich source of antioxidants and vitamin K, which is important for improving the body’s ability to fight off infections and for improving bone density and blood clotting. This herb has strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders, urinary tract problems and menstrual cramping. It can also be used topically to help clear dandruff and acne and is a good natural insect repellant.
Rosemary- has been traditionally used to boost memory and concentration, and to relieve stress, making it a great herb for students. This wonderful herb can also improve circulation, ease indigestion, heartburn and wind, and can be used topically to help stimulate hair growth. Rosemary contains high levels of antioxidants and has antimicrobial properties too.
Cinnamon- This lovely warming herb helps stimulate digestion and appetite. It can help sooth an upset stomach, relieve indigestion, excess wind, and nausea, and is beneficial for alleviating diarrhoea. Cinnamon has been found to help keep blood sugar levels balanced, making it an ideal spice for diabetics. Cinnamon is also very high in antioxidants, containing the antioxidant glutathione, and helps improve circulation.
Coriander seeds- can help stimulate insulin secretion to help lower blood sugar levels, making it a beneficial herb for diabetics. Coriander has also been found to have a cholesterol lowering effect, reducing ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol while increasing ‘good’ HDL’s. Coriander also acts as a natural antibiotic, being effective against salmonella (a common food borne illness).
Cayenne pepper- is commonly used in cleansing and detox programs to help stimulate circulation and improve digestion by increasing stomach acids and enzyme secretion. Cayenne is beneficial for treating colds and flu too, as it helps clear mucus congestion, and eases sore throats and coughs. Cayenne is beneficial for weight loss as it helps dampen appetite and it is a thermogenic spice, meaning it helps to boost metabolism. Cayenne has also been found to help normalise blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Aniseed- is known for its ability to help improve digestion and ease excess wind and nausea. It is beneficial for breastfeeding mums to help enhance milk supply, and can also help dampen nervousness. Aniseed is lovely and soothing for coughs and sore throats and can help clear up congestion. This spice is also considered an aphrodisiac to give your libido a lift.
Thyme- has strong anti-bacterial and anti-microbial action, being particularly beneficial in the treatment of bacterial respiratory infections, acne and candida. Thyme may also help reduce high blood pressure and may offer protection from breast and colon cancer.
Cloves- are useful for helping soothe an upset stomach and help aid digestion and excess wind. Cloves also have an antimicrobial action which helps rid the digestive tract of unwanted parasites and bacteria. Cloves are beneficial for easing coughs and assisting with expelling phlegm. They have been traditionally used topically to help relieve toothaches.
Cumin- is high in iron and vitamin C so it will help support healthy immune function to fight colds and flu and other infections. Cumin is beneficial for improving digestion, and has anti-fungal properties. Cumin also helps the liver detoxify and can help relieve insomnia. Studies have also shown that cumin may have cancer-fighting abilities.