Even though we usually use herbs and spices in small quantities within our recipes, they have powerful health effects. Each herb and spice contains its unique combination of nutrients, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, cancer-fighting properties, vitamins, and minerals. Many of these herbs and spices have been used for their medicinal and healing abilities for centuries before we began incorporating them into our cooking. Keep reading to check out 10 herbs and spices you should start incorporating into your meals for ultimate health and vitality!

1. Ginger

Ginger, known by the scientific name Zingiber officinale, is a flowering plant that people have been using ginger for centuries. Not only does it help calm feelings of nausea, but it has many health benefits too. Ginger is full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral. It is also well known for improving digestion, protecting against oxidative stress, and has also been shown to reduce bad cholesterol. When consuming ginger, it activates an enzyme in your body responsible for controlling and monitoring cholesterol levels. Check out these recipes for Pear Ginger Smoothie, Healthy Citrus Pear Ginger Tea, and Carrot Ginger Soup with Curried Raisin Relish.

2. Turmeric

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Turmeric, known as Curcuma longa, is a bright yellow spice common in Indian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern cooking and has been used for medicinal purposes in India for centuries. It has become popular in Western medicine for its health benefits. Grown for its root, you can find Curcumin inside, which is a pigment that not only gives turmeric its vibrant color but also offers a wide range of health benefits. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, a powerful antioxidant, has anti-cancer properties, may help protect against heart disease, and may aid in treating depression. Check out these recipes for Turmeric Cauliflower Rice, Citrus Turmeric Smoothie, and Turmeric Quinoa Bowls.

3. Garlic

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Garlic (Allium sativum) belongs to the genus Allium and is closely related to the onion, shallot, chive, leek, and scallion. It has been used for hundreds of years, and Western science has recently confirmed many of its beneficial health effects. Science has proved that garlic’s health benefits are caused by sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed, or chewed. It can reduce lung cancer risk, prevent the risk of brain cancer, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and support immune function! Check out these recipes for High Protein Chickpea-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Garlic Tahini Sauce, Toasted Orzo with Roasted Garlic and Asparagus, and Spinach and Garlic White Bean Dip.

4. Rosemary

In addition to enhancing the flavor of many of our favorite dishes, it also has many properties that are beneficial to your health. It contains natural compounds that are anti-inflammatory and anti-septic, as well as an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Rosemary is a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and B-6, and a rich source of antioxidants that can help boost your immune system. It has also been used often for digestion, including heartburn, intestinal gas, liver, and gallbladder problems. Check out these recipes for  Rosemary Roasted Cauliflower Salad, Rosemary-Garlic Chickpea Flatbread, and Pumpkin, Orange, and Rosemary Oatmeal.

5. Cardamom

Cardamom is an intense spice, similar to mint in flavor. It originated in India but is now used in recipes and for medicinal purposes all over the world. It may be helpful for people with high blood pressure, as it is a powerful antioxidant and diuretic. It may also help fight cancer cells by enhancing the ability of natural killer cells to attack tumors. Check out these recipes for Cardamom Rose Latte, Oatmeal with Apple and Cardamom, and Fruit-Sweetened Cardamom Blueberry Muffins.

6. Cinnamon

Although best known for its warm and inviting aroma, cinnamon is used for a variety of health-related issues. It can help reduce fasting blood glucose and cholesterol, it can inhibit the growth of tumor cells, has anti-inflammatory properties, and helps improve brain function and memory. Check out these recipes for Sweet Cinnamon Couscous, Cinnamon Chickpea Blondies, and Cinnamon Baked Apples.

7. Cocoa

Although cocoa is most famous for its role in making chocolate, modern research has shown that it contains powerful compounds that are beneficial to your health. It is rich in polyphenols, which are naturally occurring antioxidants found in foods like fruits, vegetables, tea, chocolate, and wine. Polyphenols have been shown to reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol. Cocoa is also rich in flavanols, which are an antioxidant that helps to reduce inflammation. Check out these recipes for Beet Brownies, Easy Cocoa Date Truffles, and 4-Ingredient Chocolate Pudding.

8. Cayenne

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Cayenne pepper has been used for thousands of years to help treat many health problems. It contains capsaicin, a compound that gives cayenne and other peppers their heat. Not only are they great for cooking, but they contain several beneficial nutrients. Capsaicin has metabolism-boosting properties through diet-induced thermogenesis. It can also reduce your hunger and may help to lower blood pressure. Check out these recipes for

9. Sage

Sage is usually dried and used to flavor food and is a member of the mint family. It also has many medicinal properties that many people may not be aware of. Sage is believed to be useful for preventing and treating cancer, sunburn, high cholesterol, fatigue, and cold sores, to name a few. It’s also very high in vitamin K, and it also contains vital minerals like magnesium, zinc, and copper. Check out these recipes for Arugula and Strawberry Salad with Cayenne Lemon Vinaigrette, Maple Cinnamon Cayenne Cashews, and Best Vegan Chili.

10. Holy Basil

Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), also commonly known as Tulsi in the Hindi language, is part of the mint family and is native to tropical Asia. It’s an adaptogen (a substance that helps the body adapt to stress) that helps “combat the negative effects of stress in the body, maintain stable blood sugar levels, and promote longevity.” Check out these recipes for 3 Cold-Press Juices.

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