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The herbs and spices are derived from different parts of plants such as bark, leaves, seeds, rhizomes, buds, stems, roots, and fruit. The culinary herbs and spices not only provide a unique aromatic quality to food but also provide health-promoting properties. A number of examples are given below.

Garlic can lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lower the risk of blood clots forming, and lower the risk of various cancers, such as stomach, breast and colon cancer. Garlic also has a broad spectrum antibiotic activity inhibiting a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria, molds, yeasts, and viruses.

Onions diminish the risk of blood clots and assist in the relief of bronchial problems. They also protect us against stomach cancer. Shallots and the strong, pungent onions show greater protection against colon cancer than the mild onions.

Herbs of the mint family (basil, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary) contain terpenoids, while the parsley family (dill, fennel, anise, cumin, coriander, cilantro) contain phthalides and polyacetylenes that have anti-inflammatory activity, and provide a measure of protection against cancer.

Ginger, used in stir fry vegetables, fruit salads, and bakery products, inhibits the formation of blood clots, and decreases the risk of various cancers. Ginger contains a variety of phenolic compounds, such as gingerols, that possess powerful antioxidant properties. Ginger is also an effect anti-emetic used effectively to prevent travel sickness.

Powerful Anti-Inflammatory

Turmeric, which provides a bright yellow color in Indian dishes and mashed tofu, has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties due to the pigment curcumin.

Flaxseed, which is used in bakery products to provide a nutty flavor, is loaded with lignans which provide substantial protection for women against breast cancer.

Cinnamon, which is commonly used to flavor hot apple cider, apple and pumpkin pies, and various bakery products, has recently been shown to lower both blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels. It shows great promise for those with poor glucose tolerance.

A variety of culinary herbs can be used to flavor your favorite dishes and at the same time help to keep you healthy due to their rich content of health-promoting phytochemicals.

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By Winston J. Craig, R.D. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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