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

  • ‘Extremely grave’ situation in southern Indian state as more than 150,000 people displaced from their homes

    The death toll from floods in the southern Indian state of Kerala has jumped to 164 and could grow further, with more rain predicted and thousands of people still awaiting rescue.

    Roads are damaged, mobile phone networks are down, an international airport has been closed and more than 150,000 people have been left homeless after unusually heavy rain this month caused the most damaging floods in Kerala in a century.

    Continue reading...

  • Trump administration forces some scientific funding to be reviewed by adviser who was high-school football teammate of Ryan Zinke

    Prominent US climate scientists have told the Guardian that the Trump administration is holding up research funding as their projects undergo an unprecedented political review by the high-school football teammate of the US interior secretary.

    The US interior department administers over $5.5bn in funding to external organizations, mostly for research, conservation and land acquisition. At the beginning of 2018, interior secretary Ryan Zinke instated a new requirement that scientific funding above $50,000 must undergo an additional review to ensure expenditures “better align with the administration’s priorities”.

    Continue reading...

  • Just 30 of the prehistoric fish known to exist, raising fears oil wells will push it to extinction

    Bright blue, older than dinosaurs and weighing as much as an average-sized man, coelacanths are the most endangered fish in South Africa and among the rarest in the world.

    Barely 30 of these critically-endangered fish are known to exist off the east coast of South Africa, raising concern that a new oil exploration venture in the area could jeopardise their future.

    Continue reading...

  • This week the Upside looks at a transformation of the environment in Africa, and other tales of hope

    Is there any hope for the environment? We regularly get this question in emails from readers of this series. In the face of weekly stories on how humans have doomed our planet, some feel action is pointless. We’re certainly not here to distract from the scary news about our climate; it deserves everyone’s attention and we must make big changes now. But it’s arguable whether people are likely to act without hope.

    This week we found one tale of hope on the border of the Sahara desert. We also looked at a possible antidote to social isolation among retirees (another frequent subject of reader emails), and a tale of solidarity and humanity from the Balkans.

    Continue reading...

  • An anaesthetised polar bear, a surprising pine marten and a potty-mouthed parrot are among this week’s images

    Continue reading...

  • Rangers in this Central African Republic nature reserve face an array of dangers in their bid to protect a rich variety of species

    Deep in the heart of Africa, a dedicated group of rangers patrol the Chinko nature reserve. In baking equatorial heat, they are weighed down with body armour and camouflage fatigues. Beads of sweat run down their faces; mosquitos whine. The men keep watch over a vast patchwork of savanna and rainforest in the Central African Republic – a country mired in civil strife and one of the many frontlines of a poaching war that spans the continent and reaches across the globe.

    Continue reading...

  • Khan writes to attorney general over girl who died during spikes in nitrogen dioxide

    The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has written to the attorney general asking him to back a new inquest into the death of a nine-year-old girl whose severe asthma attacks coincided with spikes in air pollution.

    The mother of Ella Kissi-Debrah has fought a long campaign to highlight the role she believes illegal air pollution played in her daughter’s death in 2013.

    Continue reading...

  • Jorginho Guajajara’s killing is believed by members of his tribe to be the result of conflict with loggers in their Amazon territory

    Indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon are mourning the murder of a community leader who campaigned to protect the forest from logging amid escalating violence in the region.

    Jorginho Guajajara, a cacique,or leader, of the Guajajara people, was found dead near a river in the city of Arame, Maranhão state, at the weekend.

    Continue reading...

  • On a planet of billions, nine represent the strong minority battling murder in the global corruption of land rights

    Individually, they are stories of courage and tragedy. Together, they tell a tale of a natural world under ever more violent assault.

    The portraits in this series are of nine people who are risking their lives to defend the land and environment in some of the planet’s most remote or conflict-riven regions.

    Continue reading...

  • Eleven people protesting over pollution from a copper plant have been killed by police in Tamil Nadu in south India

    Another person has been shot dead during violent protests in south India against a copper plant operated by a British mining giant residents say is polluting the local environment.

    Opposition politicians in the state of Tamil Nadu have accused the police of committing mass murder against protesters opposed to the expansion of a copper smelting facility in the port city of Thoothukudi.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds