Yes, that is right, some herbs and spices have fabulous anti-ageing elements that can assist everyone, at all ages, to age well.
So what is so great about these plants that we add to our meals for delicious flavour? Herbs and spices have a long culinary tradition and can assist with improving our nutritional intake in a number of ways.
Spices are generally grown in tropical areas and come from the bark, buds, fruit, roots, seeds or stems of plants or trees. Herbs are generally grown in temperate areas and are the fragrant leaves of plants.
The first benefit of all herbs and spices is that the flavours can be used to replace fat and salt in our cooking. As we age, we want to reduce the amount of saturated fat and salt in our diet to decrease our risk of heart disease. Replacing these nutrients with healthy alternatives such as herbs and spices is a great start.
Secondly, herbs and spices have naturally occurring compounds providing health benefitscalled phytonutrients.
Phytonutrients are bio active compounds found in food that have been associated with slowing the ageing process and assisting to reduce the risk of a number of diseases.
Herbs and spices can also be good sources of antioxidants, which are commonly known as beneficial to healthy ageing due to their ability to network against damage to cells and genetic material.
Not all herbs and spices offer the same benefit when it comes to healthy ageing, some offer anti-ageing elements that are better than others. The spices with the most beneficial healthy ageing impact are cinnamon and turmeric and the most beneficial herbs are oregano, thyme and rosemary.
Spices - Cinnamon and Turmeric
Cinnamon is a great tasting spice that provides the most antioxidant benefit of all herbs and spices. Half a teaspoon of dried cinnamon offers slightly more antioxidant benefit than half a cup of raspberries! Recent research has associated cinnamon with assisting to
lower blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. This research is in its early stages, however there is no downside to using cinnamon so be liberal with it on your breakfast in the morning!
Turmeric offers the second highest benefit of the spice family for provision of antioxidants. Turmeric has been touted as the ultimate anti-ageing spice due to its active chemical curcumin, which gives the yellow hue to foods containing turmeric. Tumeric has been linked to assisting to destroy amyloid plaque build-up due to Alzheimers disease, slowing the onset of Alzheimers and dementia and having anti-inflammatory outcomes with arthritis patients. All good factors for healthy ageing!
Herbs - Oregano, Thyme and Rosemary
Oregano provides the most antioxidants of all herbs, followed by Thyme and Rosemary. Oregano is a reasonable source of Vitamin K which assists with blood clotting and provides anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits.
Thyme has similar anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits to oregano. Thyme has also been associated with positive effects on neurons resulting in improved mood and is a good source of Vitamins C and A.
Rosemary also has the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial health benefits and provides a good source of iron, calcium and Vitamin B6 (all important for healthy ageing). Additionally Rosemary has been associated with improved digestion and enhanced memory and cognition.
So, next time you are thinking about which herbs and spices to use to flavour your dishes keep these five top of mind! Enjoy!