Health Benefits of the Top 6 Holiday Herbs

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

It’s the holiday season, that time of year when family and friends come to visit and enjoy the sights and smells of holiday foods, loaded with healthy, heady spices.

These delicious and aromatic herbs are fantastic additions to just about any food you plan on cooking up for your guests and the good news here is that there are numerous health benefits to many holiday spices. Keep reading for the top 6 healthiest spices you can serve to your family and friends and feel good about it.


1. Nutmeg

This is a powerful little spice so that just a little bit can go a long way. You can add some in your morning oatmeal, sauces, stews, baked goods and soups. Don’t overdo this spice however, as a heavy consumption of it can cause sweating, heart palpitations, even hallucinations!

In reasonable amounts, however, nutmeg not only tastes great but it has numerous health benefits including improving your brain power, clearing up digestive problems, stopping insomnia, and increasing blood circulation. You can even use this spice topically for skin problems and as a rub for sore muscles. Many people use nutmeg in baked goods, but try using it in a spice tea for a change of pace, or sprinkle some over a glass of warm milk before bed so help make you, or your kids, feel sleepy.

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

2. Vanilla

Vanilla, a staple in everyone’s pantry, is the one spice that has dozens of uses and one that everyone loves. Even simply smelling vanilla can calm people down and put them in a good mood.

With more than 200 phytonutrients, which are plant compounds that have healing properties, vanilla can be used for just about everything from depression to loss of libido, stop inflammation, and hyperactivity. Vanilla will work in almost everything you are cooking; granola, baked goods, smoothies, hot beverages, and oatmeal.

Fresh Ginger Root

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3. Ginger

A tasty ingredient in most holiday foods, ginger is put in everything from cookies to beer. This is a terrific spice during the cool winter months because it not only aids in digestion but it will warm the body for hours after consumption.

This spice has several types of volatile oils that have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and anti-viral compounds. Ginger can reduce fevers, stop nausea, lower inflammation and improve your immune system all at the same time.

Try adding ginger to hot drinks and fresh vegetable dishes for a nice change of pace. Instead of ground up powders, especially those that have been sitting for who knows how long at the grocery store shelf, buy some fresh roots and grate it yourself. Hot ginger tea, made from fresh slices of organic ginger root, is simply heavenly on super cold, wintery days. Find out recipe of a real ginger ale.


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4. Peppermint

Just smelling peppermint can make your mouth start salivating like Pavlov’s dogs. You can find peppermint in just about everything, but especially around the holidays, peppermint starts popping up in chocolate, gum, candy canes, hot chocolate, and tea.

Peppermint is another one of those herbs that has super medicinal powers. With its anti-viral, anti-microbial compounds, peppermint is also loaded with antioxidants. Most people associate peppermint with its ability to stop nausea and helping with digestive issues, but it has been proven in studies to also reduce pain, fight allergies, improve lung disorders, and even reduce the size of tumors.

If you overeat at one of those holiday meals, try a bit of peppermint tea to help stop gas and improve your digestion. If you feel the sniffles coming on, add some peppermint essential oil to your bathwater and breathe in the steam for instant relief.

spices cinnamon anise nutmeg rock sugar

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5. Cinnamon

A favorite spice that is treasured around the world, but especially around the holidays. Cinnamon works well in most baked goods and in hot beverages, but it is also used in other foods like oatmeal and fruit dishes.

One of the most amazing things about cinnamon is its ability to manage blood sugar levels. Several studies show that cinnamon imitates the action of insulin, which is what regulates blood sugar in the body. Consuming cinnamon regularly can treat and prevent cholesterol problems, stop heart disease, strokes, ulcers, insulin resistance, and food poisoning.

Try adding cinnamon in smoothies, soups, tea, oatmeal, sprinkled over bananas and apples, try making some homemade cinnamon applesauce, and even try a dash in your morning coffee! Read more about benefits of cinnamon and honey.

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

6.  Cloves

The clove plant has highly scented flower buds and when we dry those buds, we get the spice we call cloves. The little spiky end of this flower bud makes it perfect for sticking them into hams for flavor and oranges and apples for beautifully scented decorations.

Cloves contain high amounts of a compound called eugenol and studies show that this compound can help to stop the body from absorbing toxins from the environment. Cloves also have great pain stopping abilities. Placing a clove near or on a painful tooth will help stop the pain in minutes. Cloves also contain anti-inflammatory substances so consuming them regularly can stop painful joints due to arthritis.

Try adding some to your next hot drink, such as apple cider or hot chocolate. Oh, and chewing on a clove can stop bad breath in a heartbeat!

Spice up your holidays and get some added health benefits at the same time! Cheers!