Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme: The Latest “Superfoods”?

foodandstyle/ iStock / Getty Images Plus
foodandstyle/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

If you’re looking to reduce your sodium intake, the good news is that flavor does not begin and end with salt. Instead, look for flavor from non-sodium sources. For instance, Americans’ palates have expanded since the 1950s when the average kitchen pantry contained just 10 or fewer very basic spices for cooking.

Today, consumers have an interest in regional cuisines, new ingredients and unique flavors. Just check out your local food truck festival to see what I mean. Because of this, once exotic spices are much easier to find.

Herbs and spices not only can replace the salt shaker, but also can add flavor and powerful antioxidants to every meal. You see, spices and herbs are botanically classified as fruits and vegetables. While an herb typically comes from the leaf of a plant, a spice could come from the root, bark, seed, bud or flower.

The New “Superfoods” Already in Your Pantry

As long as they’re used within their freshness period, many herbs and spices have antioxidant levels that rival those of so-called “superfoods” such as blueberries and kale. Tweet this For example, just 1 teaspoon of cloves has an ORAC value (a method of measuring the potency of antioxidants) of 6096, while a half-cup of blueberries measures 3455.

Researchers are accumulating evidence of potential health-related benefits of spices and herbs. Now, some consider black pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, garlic powder, ginger, oregano, red pepper, rosemary, thyme and turmeric to be “super spices.” For instance, you may have already read about cinnamon’s ability to assist with blood glucose control in Type 2 diabetes or ginger’s potential to reduce muscle pain caused by rigorous exercise.

The theme of National Nutrition Month 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” Put away the salt shaker and add flavor with herbs and spices for health benefits.

Nadine Pazder on Twitter
Nadine Pazder
Nadine Pazder, LDN, RD, lives in Florida and has been in her current position as outpatient dietitian in Clearwater for the past 20 years. She also facilitates diabetes prevention groups for the YMCA in Pinellas County. Connect with her on her blog, How About Them Apples, or on Twitter.