This article was published from the WEBMD Archives.
Everyday herbs and spices may do more than enhance the flavor of food.
Common herbs and spices may help protect against certain chronic conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Herbs, including basil and parsley, are from plants and plant parts. Spices often come from the seeds, berries, bark, or roots of plants.
Seasonings, such as cinnamon, often lead lists of commonly eaten foods with the highest levels of measured antioxidant activity.
“Studies show that many different herbs and spices offer health benefits,” says David Heber, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, and director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Most of the evidence exists for cinnamon, chili peppers, turmeric, garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary, Heber tells WebMD.
Polyphenols, a type of plant compound, provide one of the main health benefits associated with herbs and spices. Polyphenols are also abundant in certain fruits and vegetables, tea, and red wine.
Certain herbs and spices curb inflammation in the body, which may give rise to heart disease and cancer. For example, antioxidants in cinnamon have been linked to lower inflammation, as well as reductions in blood glucose concentrations in people with diabetes