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

  • Extinction Rebellion protesters want a carbon-free UK by 2025. But can the financial and political hurdles be overcome?

    It is the near future. You wake in a house warmed by a heat pump that extracts energy from deep below the ground and delivers it to your home. (Your gas boiler was outlawed years ago.) You rise and make yourself a cup of tea – from water boiled on a hydrogen-burning kitchen stove. Then you head to work – in a robot-driven electric car directed by central control network to avoid traffic jams.

    At midday, you pause for lunch: a sandwich made of meat grown in a laboratory. At the end of the day, you are taken home by a robot car – through countryside festooned with solar panels and turbines.

    Continue reading...

  • The wardens of Britain’s small islands talk about daily life with little more than thousands of puffins for company. By Patrick Barkham. Photographs by Alex Ingram

    After supper, while Eddie Stubbings was washing up, huge flocks of puffins would come whirling past his kitchen window. Later, when the sun had finally dipped into the ocean, the Skomer night filled with the bizarre caterwauling of 350,000 pairs of manx shearwaters, which fly under the cover of darkness to burrows dotted across the small island.

    “Living on the island was absolutely amazing,” says Stubbings, 40. Alongside his partner, Bee Bueche, 41, he has completed six years working on Skomer, 720 acres of seabird-populated rocks off the Pembrokeshire coast.

    Continue reading...

  • Group’s ongoing peaceful disruption in London is gaining it global attention and new members

    On Monday morning a strange sight appeared, edging its way through the buses, taxis and shoppers on Oxford Street in London.

    A bright pink boat, named Berta Cáceres after the murdered Honduran environmental activist, was being pulled carefully through the traffic, eventually coming to a halt in the middle of one of London’s busiest thoroughfares.

    Continue reading...

  • An orchestra, a village, an entire country: the movement to rein in greenhouse gas emissions is growing

    We are all doomed, it is said. Carbon dioxide is amassing in the atmosphere at levels not seen for millions of years when there were trees at the South Pole and Florida was under water. We have barely a decade to make amends. Protesters are on the streets.

    But huge numbers of people have not given up. Not yet. Call them the carbon cutters. They are companies and cities, niche groups and nations. They are commuters and communes, off-gridders and off-setters, investors and institutions – and countless individuals, cutting their meat intake, installing solar panels, eschewing gas guzzlers and long-haul flights.

    Continue reading...

  • Fears for wildlife after fierce predators apparently discovered in Yorkshire

    Late on Monday night, a reporter at the Doncaster Free Press received an unusual phone call. A piranha, one of the world’s fiercest predators normally found stalking the waters of the Amazon basin, had apparently been discovered in a lake in Doncaster.

    There were dramatic rumours of ducks being massacred and other wildlife being torn to shreds by the razor-toothed fish in the freezing waters of Martinwells Lake.

    Continue reading...

  • Nation known for its natural beauty is under pressure with extinctions, polluted rivers and blighted lakes

    A report on the state of New Zealand’s environment has painted a bleak picture of catastrophic biodiversity loss, polluted waterways and the destructive rise of the dairy industry and urban sprawl.

    Environment Aotearoais the first major environmental report in four years, and was compiled using data from Statistics New Zealand and the environment ministry.

    Continue reading...

  • Financial sector warned it risks losses from extreme weather and its stakes in polluting firms

    The global financial system faces an existential threat from climate change and must take urgent steps to reform, the governors of the Bank of England and France’s central bank have warned, writing in the Guardian.

    In an article published in the Guardian on Wednesday aimed at the international financial community, Mark Carney, the Bank’s governor, and François Villeroy de Galhau, the governor of the Banque de France, said financial regulators, banks and insurers around the world had to “raise the bar” to avoid catastrophe.

    Continue reading...

  • Scientists, including a descendant of Charles Darwin, are researching the birds’ preference for Berlin

    They were once among Britain’s most beloved singers, their “murmurs musical” giving melancholy poets solace in their darkest hours. But these days the world-famous warblers are more likely to be found jamming with jazz musicians in neglected Berlin parks than serenading Londoners in Berkeley Square. Some even claim that their latest outpourings feature elements of German techno.

    Luscinia megarhynchos, the common nightingale, has been shunning the UK since the 1960s, during which time the population has slumped by 90%. The number of birds in Berlin, however, is on the rise. According to cautious estimates by the city senate, the German capital’s nightingale population grew by 6% every year from 2006 to 2016: “a very high rate”, said Johannes Schwarz, a species conservation officer, who puts the current number of nesting pairs at between 1,300 and 1,700.

    Continue reading...

  • Scientists say a drastic cut in meat consumption is needed, but this requires political will

    It has been known for a while that the amount of animal products being eaten is bad for both the welfare of animals and the environment. People cannot consume 12.9bn eggs in the UK each year without breaking a few.

    But the extent of the damage, and the amount by which people need to cut back, is now becoming clearer. On Wednesday, the Lancet medical journal published a study that calls for dramatic changes to food production and the human diet, in order to avoid “catastrophic damage to the planet”.

    Continue reading...

  • The continent’s largest land mammal plays crucial role in spiritual lives of the tribes

    On 5,000 hectares of unploughed prairie in north-eastern Montana, hundreds of wild bison roam once again. But this herd is not in a national park or a protected sanctuary – they are on tribal lands. Belonging to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of Fort Peck Reservation, the 340 bison is the largest conservation herd in the ongoing bison restoration efforts by North America’s Indigenous people.

    The bison – or as Native Americans call them, buffalo – are not just “sustenance,” according to Leroy Little Bear, a professor at the University of Lethbridge and a leader in the bison restoration efforts with the Blood Tribe. The continent’s largest land mammal plays a major role in the spiritual and cultural lives of numerous Native American tribes, an “integrated relationship,” he said.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds