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Herbs and Spices: The Secret Spice To Clean Eating | Fitness Food

Posted Oct 30 2008 10:52pm 1 Comment

Learn how picking the right herbs and spices can make eating clean go from dull to delicious 

Healthy, whole foods get a bad rap when it comes to flavor. Image of Herbs and Spices including Cumin, Tumeric, and Chiles

“ Eating clean ” often gets associated with eating “bland” — especially among fitness buffs, bodybuilders and athletes who think that a good “training diet” consists of meal-after-repetitive-meal of oatmeal, boiled chicken breast, yams, steamed broccoli and green side salads with some kind of fat-free liquid on top that calls itself “dressing.”

The good news is that there is actually a simple solution to making clean eating not just tolerable, but enjoyable — and it’s as close as your grocer’s baking isle: Herbs and spices.

Herbs and Spices: The Key To Making Clean Eating Enjoyable

Any cook worth their salt knows that a recipe or dish isn’t complete until it’s been seasoned.

“Seasoning” could simply mean adding some salt and ground pepper, but more often than not, it includes the use of all kinds of other herbs or spices to either layer additional flavor on top of a food, enhance or complement an existing flavor, or provide a contrast.

While it’s pretty hard to screw up a dish or recipe by adding the wrong herb or spice, it does pay to know your seasonings ahead of time to avoid some funky combinations that might send that brown rice to your dog’s bowl, versus your plate.

Herbs and Spices: Not Just For Flavor, But Also Healthy 

Herbs and spices also have an additional role in healthy, clean eating beyond simply seasoning foods, recipes or dishes.

Nearly all herbs and spices have very high concentrations of healthy phytochemicals and antioxidants. Scientists believe that these naturally-occurring plant compounds work together in the body to protect tissues and cells from damage and may help prevent diseases like cancer and heart disease. 

When you combine herbs and spices with other antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, their protective properties may be enhanced even more, similar to  The Portfolio Diet approach to cholesterol-reduction observed by researchers like David Jenkins at the University of Toronto.

Just how much antioxidant punch do certain herbs and spice have? Plenty.  

In fact, oregano, that ubiquitous herb found in nearly every batch of pizza or spaghetti sauce is one of nature’s most concentrated sources of antioxidants, having four times more antioxidants than blueberries. Just one tablespoon of dried oregano has the antioxidant content of a large apple.

Herbs and spices can also have beneficial medicinal uses, in addition to simply making your food taste better.

For instance, ginger aids digestion and can calm nausea and even alleviate motion sickness. Fennel and juniper berries can help with fat digestion, and cinnamon has been shown to help reduce cholesterol and increase insulin sensitivity, helping people better digest sugar. It also may lessen the symptoms of certain inflammatory diseases like arthritis.

So herbs and spices don’t just make your food taste better, they’re good for you as well.

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Tags: Allspice, Antioxidants, Asian Spices, Basil, Bay Leaves, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Caribbean Cooking, Chervil, Chives, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Clean Eating, Clean Eating, Cloves, cooking, Cooking With Herbs, Culinary Herbs, Cumin Coriander, David Jenkins, Diet, Dried Mustard, Eating Clean, Epazote, Fennel Seed, Fenugreek, French Herbs, French Seasoning, French Spices, Garlic, Ginger, Greek Herbs, Greek Seasoning, Greek Spices, Herb Information, Herbs, Herbs and Spices, Herbs de Provence, How To Store Herbs, Italian Herbs, Italian Seasoning, Italian Spices, Jamaican Spices, Jerk, Mace, Mexican Herbs, Mexican Seasoning, Nutmeg, Old Bay Seasoning, Oregano, Parsley, Penzey, Penzey's Spices, Penzeys, Penzeys Herbs, Peppercorns, Phytochemicals, Powdered Chiles, Red Pepper Flakes, Rosemary, Sage, Scallions, Scotch Bonnet Peppers, Seasoning, Sichuan Peppercorns, Spice Trade, Spices, Star Anise, Sweet Marjoram, Tarragon, The Portfolio Diet, Thyme, Turmeric, University of Toronto

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Comments (1)
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