Healthy Herbs and Spices

Published in Highlights

Some Super-Healthy Herbs and Spices Used In The Mediterranean Diet

Green vegetables, a staple of the Dalmatian Mediterranean Diet Green vegetables, a staple of the Dalmatian Mediterranean Diet Photo Vivian Grisogono

Mediterranean dishes tend to be low in carbs, high in protein and packed with nutrient-containing vegetables. While the healthy base ingredients used to prepare Mediterranean meals certainly provide an excellent reason for choosing the diet, they are nothing compared to the positive health effects of the herbs and spices these meals contain. 


Ingredients in the Mediterranean diet, like tomato, lettuce and pretty much any plant that has colour are jam-packed with powerful pigments that act as antioxidants and other disease-preventing agents in the body. These pigments are often referred to as phytochemicals in the food-science world.  

Since herbs and spices are plants just as vegetables are, they also add phytochemicals to the diet. Cinnamon, turmeric and oregano contain different types of pigments. Phytochemicals are responsible for pigmentation. Without these chemicals, there would be no colour in organic-based foods.

All the herbs and spices associated with the Mediterranean diet provide health benefits through their phytochemicals. Some of the commonly used herbs and spices provide unique effects.

Basil


Basil is a herb which is used a lot in Dalmatian cooking. Many if not most households cultivate their own basil plants, in pots if not in the garden, propagating their crop from year to year from the seed-heads formed after flowering. Basil is also commonly used as seasoning in Italian cooking, which is technically part of the Mediterranean diet, despite being high in carbs. It is possible to make Italian-type meals lighter by replacing pasta with spaghetti squash. 

Basil is loaded with vitamin A and has the ability to destroy bad species of bacteria. Its anti-inflammatory properties have persuaded some users to profess it to be an excellent herb for relieving migraine symptoms. Inflammation in certain arthritic conditions is sometimes helped by including basil in the diet.

Oregano 


Oregano is another herb which plays a big part in the Dalmatian diet. It is even more nutrient-dense than the tomatoes that the herb is often responsible for seasoning. It has all the vitamins and minerals of those lovely, red fruits, plus, it comes with the addition of a lot more fibre and omega-3 fatty acids.

Fatty acids help keep us heart healthy. They may also support healthy brain function. Some studies have even suggested that the addition of fatty acids helps to alleviate the symptoms of autism-spectrum disorders.

Cinnamon 


Cinnamon is a spice used to bring out the flavour in a lot of Middle-Eastern dishes, and is increasingly popular in Dalmatian cooking.

Cinnamon has the ability to stabilize blood sugar levels. It has been clinically proven to be a powerful addition to any diabetic diet, and it may also help to prevent Type 2 Diabetes. 

Turmeric 


Turmeric is a spice more associated with Asian and Middle Eastern cooking than Dalmatian. Chicken prepared with turmeric takes on a distinctive orange colour which gives advance promise of its tangy flavour.

Turmeric is now widely available in Dalmatia, but a lot of cooks use it only as an add-on seasoning to sprinkle over food, rather than including it in the actual cooking.

Its increasing popularity may have something to do with the fact that Dr. Oz has suggested consuming this seasoning may result in weight loss. Dr. Oz’s programme has been compulsive viewing in Croatia, and the attraction of losing weight by eating something tasty is never one to be ignored, especially by those who over-indulge. 

In fact the weight loss only happens in conjunction with a healthy active Mediterranean lifestyle, but some of turmeric’s health benefits can still be reaped even if your lifestyle is unhealthy. If you are only concerned with losing weight, you probably won’t notice turmeric’s ability to reduce inflammation. But your aches and pains may be reduced anyway through turmeric’s antioxidant action without you thinking about it.

Summing up

This is a small sample of the herbs and spices used in the Mediterranean diet, and is an indication of how wide-ranging the definition of Mediterranean diet is. There are plenty of others that all add to those unique flavours and interesting tastes in the dishes found in Dalmatian, Italian, Greek and Middle-Eastern cooking.

© Jonathan Leger 2016

Jonathan Leger is a member of the Garden Writer's Association and a gardening enthusiast. You can check out his website where he shares his passion for the unique plants of the world.

You are here: Home highlights Healthy Herbs and Spices

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Exclusive: Draft regulations seen by the Guardian reveal the European commission wants to prohibit the insecticides that cause ‘acute risks to bees’

    The world’s most widely used insecticides would be banned from all fields across Europe under draft regulations from the European commission, seen by the Guardian.

    The documents are the first indication that the powerful commission wants a complete ban and cite “high acute risks to bees”. A ban could be in place this year if the proposals are approved by a majority of EU member states.

    Continue reading...

  • A plan to halve carbon emissions every decade, while green energy continues to double every five years, provides a simple but rigorous roadmap to tackle climate change, scientists say

    A new “carbon law”, modelled on Moore’s law in computing, has been proposed as a roadmap for beating climate change. It sees carbon emissions halving every decade, while green energy continues to double every five years.

    The carbon law’s proponents are senior climate-change scientists and they argue it provides a simple, broad but quantitative plan that could drive governments and businesses to make urgently needed carbon cuts, particularly at a time when global warming is falling off the global political agenda.

    Continue reading...

  • Roll clouds and wave-like asperitas are among the additions to the new digital International Cloud Atlas, that dates back to the 19th century. It features hundreds of images captured by meteorologists and cloud lovers from around the world

    Continue reading...

  • Extent of ice over North pole has fallen to a new wintertime low, for the third year in a row, as climate change drives freakish weather

    The extent of Arctic ice has fallen to a new wintertime low, as climate change drives freakishly high temperatures in the polar regions.

    The ice cap grows during the winter months and usually reaches its maximum in early March. But the 2017 maximum was 14.4m sq km, lower than any year in the 38-year satellite record, according to researchers at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) and Nasa.

    Continue reading...

  • Massive fine reflects change in sentencing as previously low penalties failed to deter water firms from polluting England’s rivers and beaches

    Thames Water has been hit with a record fine of £20.3m after huge leaks of untreated sewage into the Thames and its tributaries and on to land, including the popular Thames path. The prolonged leaks led to serious impacts on residents, farmers, and wildlife, killing birds and fish.

    The fine imposed on Wednesday was for numerous offences in 2013 and 2014 at sewage treatment works at Aylesbury, Didcot, Henley and Little Marlow, and a large sewage pumping station at Littlemore.

    Continue reading...

  • Birdwatchers ‘elated’ after snapping photo of the endangered species in state’s arid interior in discovery that could significantly impact on mining developments

    A night parrot has been photographed in Western Australia, adding another twist to the mysterious history of the species that was presumed extinct until it was rediscovered in Queensland four years ago.

    It is the first verified sighting of the bird in WA for almost 100 years and follows a history of unverified sightings, disbelieved reports and futile ecological surveys that rivals the hunt for the (presumably still) extinct Thylacine in Tasmania.

    Continue reading...

  • Anne says she would farm GM food and GM livestock a ‘bonus’, while Charles says GM crops will cause ‘biggest disaster environmentally of all time’

    Princess Anne has strongly backed genetically modified crops, saying she would grow them on her own land and that GM livestock would be a “bonus”.

    Her stance puts her sharply at odds with her brother Prince Charles, who has long opposed GM food and has said it will cause the “biggest disaster environmentally of all time”.

    Continue reading...

  • In the first in a series, Yale Environment 360 reports from Honduras where Berta Cáceres fought to protect native lands and paid for it with her life – one of hundreds of victims in this disturbing global trend

    They came for her late one evening last March, as Berta Cáceres prepared for bed. A heavy boot broke the back door of the safe house she had just moved into. Her colleague and family friend, Gustavo Castro, heard her shout, “Who’s there?” Then came a series of shots. He survived. But the most famous and fearless social and environmental activist in Honduras died instantly. She was 44 years old. It was a cold-blooded political assassination.

    Berta Cáceres knew she was likely to be killed. Everybody knew. She had told her daughter Laura to prepare for life without her. The citation for her prestigious Goldman Environmental prize, awarded in the US less than a year before, noted the continued death threats, before adding: “Her murder would not surprise her colleagues, who keep a eulogy – but hope to never have to use it.”

    Continue reading...

  • Vibrant vegetation in a Venezuelan lake, Saharan dust in snowy Sierra Nevada, cloud vortices in South Korea, a vast solar farm in China, and a lone ship in the Atlantic are among our satellite images this month

    Every so often, a vibrant green colour infuses the waters of Lake Maracaibo. Floating vegetation – likely duckweed – was swirling in the Venezuelan lake when Nasa’s Aqua satellite flew over in February 2017. Most of the time, Maracaibo’s waters are stratified into layers, with nutrient-rich, cooler, saltier water at the bottom, and a warmer, fresher layer near the surface. But after heavy rains, the layers can mix and make the lake an ideal habitat for plant growth. A narrow strait roughly 6km (4 miles) wide and 40 km (25 miles) long connects the lake to the Gulf of Venezuela and the Caribbean Sea. The influx of saltwater through the strait makes Maracaibo an estuarine lake. This mixing causes the water currents responsible for the concentric swirl pattern, according to Lawrence Kiage, a professor of geoscience at Georgia State University.

    Continue reading...

  • Green groups’ report says move to cleaner energy in China and India is discouraging the building of coal-fired units

    The amount of new coal power being built around the world fell by nearly two-thirds last year, prompting campaigners to claim the polluting fossil fuel was in freefall.

    The dramatic decline in new coal-fired units was overwhelmingly due to policy shifts in China and India and subsequent declining investment prospects, according to a report by Greenpeace, the US-based Sierra Club and research network CoalSwarm.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds