Herbs for your health

1. Cinnamon

Goes with: Cloves; nutmeg; allspice; chocolate; fruit; nuts
What it does for you: Stabilize blood sugar.
Recipes to try: Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread , Tunisian Chicken , Sweet Potato Pudding

Cinnamon was prized by Kings, the ancient Greeks and Romans.  It was used to boost appetite and relieve indigestion. Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes. When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory while another study found that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol.

2. Sage

Goes with: Squashes; parsley; rosemary; thyme; walnuts
What it does for you: Preserve memory, soothe sore throats.
Recipes to try: Green Beans with Mushrooms and Shallots , Chicken with Cranberry Pilaf, Herbed Quinoa Pilaf

Sage tea is supposed to be wonderful for upset stomachs and sore throats.  Some studies even suggests the herb may improve some symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease by protecting a brain chemical involved in memory and learning. College students in another study performed significantly better on memory tests when they took sage extracts in capsule form.  Their moods also improved.

3. Parsley

Pairs well with: lemon zest, mint, garlic, capers, fish, beef
May help: Prevent cancer
Recipe to try: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad , Cajun Shrimp Casserole , Lamb with Vegetable Medley

Studies show that myristicin, an organic compound found in the essential oil of parsley, inhibits tumor formation (especially in the lungs). Scientists found at the Univ of Missouri, this herb can actually inhibit breast cancer-cell growth. Parsley is rich with an antioxidant arsenal that searches out and eradicates free radicals in the body that cause oxidative stress in cells. They promotes carbohydrate metabolism and the vitamin C found in parsley serve the body as an anti-inflammatory agent.  The vitamin C and vitamin A found in parsley serve to strengthen the body's immune system. . A regular garnish of parsley can help ward off cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis. Experts recommend adding a couple pinches of minced fresh parsley to your dishes daily.

4. Rosemary

Goes with: Potatoes; citrus; honey; garlic; onions; chile peppers
What it does for you: Improve mental focus, fight food borne bacteria.
Recipe to try: Tuscan Pork Loin , Mushroom Lasagna with Béchamel , Turkey Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

A recent study found that people performed better on memory and alertness tests when mists of fragrant  rosemary oil were piped into their study areas. Rosemary is often used in marinades for meats and poultry, and where it may fight bacteria and prevent meat from spoiling. Recently researchers reported (Kansas State) that adding rosemary extracts to ground beef helped prevent the establishment of heterocyclic amines (HCAs. These compounds are produced when meats are grilled, broiled or fried and are known cancer-causing agents.

5. Turmeric

Goes with: Garlic; citrus; ingredients in curry powder, such as coriander & cumin
What it does for you: Suppress inflammation, slows down tumors.
Recipe to try: Mango, Shrimp and Basil , Baked Moroccan Chicken , Tangerian Vegetable Soup

Turmeric is applied to wounds as a paste to promote healing.  In India, people sip turmeric tea to ease colds and respiratory problems. Most modern medicine benefits are associated with a compound in turmeric called curcumin.  It has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help reduce pain of arthritis, injuries and dental procedures.  Curcumin is also being considered for its potential in managing heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

6. Chile Pepper

Goes with: Ginger; chocolate; beans; beef
What it does for you: Boost metabolism.
Recipe to try: Southwestern Vegetable Medley , Spicy Turkey Chili , Pork Chops Mole

Chiles, known for creating sensations of heat, are especially prized in hot climates since, the spice helps trigger the body’s natural cooling systems.  Capsaicin, found in hot chiles, revs up the body’s metabolism and might boost fat burning.  Recent studies found that capsinoids, found in milder chile hybrids, have the same effects.  Even tamer sweet paprika packs a healthy punch. Capsaicin may also lower risk of ulcers and help the heart by mixing with “bad” LDL cholesterol to keep it from turning into an artery-clogging culprit.

7. Ginger

Goes with: Soy sauce; citrus; chile peppers; garlic
What it does for you: Soothe an upset stomach, fight arthritis pain.
Recipe to try: Moroccan Lentil Soup , Ginger Sugar Cookies , Caribbean Chicken Kebabs

For many years ginger has been used to relieve colds and stomach troubles, it is also rich in inflammation-fighting compounds, such as gingerols.  Some experts believe the inflammation fighting compound may show strength in fighting some cancers and reducing arthritis pain. Another study found that ginger extract injections helped relieve osteoarthritis pain of the knee. Ginger’s reputation as a stomach soother is well deserved: research has shown ginger extracts can help reduce nausea caused by morning sickness or following surgery or chemotherapy.

8. Saffron

Goes with: Shellfish, rice, tomatoes, garlic, onion
What it does for you: Boost your mood, relieve symptoms of PMS
Recipe to try: Tangerian Vegetable Soup,

Saffron has long been used in traditional Persian medicine as a mood lifter, usually steeped into a medicinal tea or used to prepare rice. Research found that saffron may help to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and depression. Saffron contains many plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties. Saffron has many active components called carotenoids.   These give the characteristic golden yellow color and are important antioxidants that helps protect the body from stress, cancers, infections and acts as an immune system regulator.

Modified from Eating Well website.