One of the key features of the Mediterranean diet is that the food is flavored with lot of herbs and spices including basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cloves, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, sumac, tarragon, thyme, and turmeric. Different regions and cultures use unique combinations of these spices to produce their specific flavor profiles, and following the Mediterranean diet gives you the option of following established recipes or experimenting and creating your own flavors.
One of the health benefits of using herbs and spices is that the added flavors allow you to use less salt. They also have medicinal and healing properties that have been recognized and used by cultures all over the world throughout history.
Lamiaceae are herbs in the mint family including basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, thyme, and lavender. They are widely used not only as food products, but also by the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. They are used for aromatherapy, and also in medicine for their antibacterial, anti-spasmodic (suppressing muscle spasms), antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. As antioxidants, they offer wide-ranging benefits that help prevent inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Cinnamon has a compound called cinnamaldehyde that helps lower blood sugar. Turmeric contains curcumin which is a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent diseases related to aging as well as being highly anti-inflammatory to reduce the occurrence of chronic disease. Hot peppers like cayenne contain capsaicin which helps relieve pain and has anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties. Ginger is an effective treatment for nausea, it helps relieve pain, and is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, as well as an antibacterial. Garlic’s active compound is allicin and helps prevent illness like the common cold while also benefiting your heart health by helping reduce total and LDL cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.
By including herbs and spices in your meal preparation, you will add flavor while improving your health. A win-win!