Not only do they add flavour to your meals, fresh herbs and spices can support your health too.

Oregano

A favourite herb in Mediterranean dishes, this contains special oils that help to stop the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut. Try adding a few springs of fresh oregano to a bottle of olive oil to infuse it with the aromatic flavour.

 

Thyme

A study has shown that thymol, a compound in this evergreen, supports the proper structure and functioning of cells in the brain, kidneys and heart. Keep yourself sprightly by sprinkling some thyme leaves on your scrambled eggs.

 

Parsley

Many people know that this humble European herb can freshen breath when chewed, but few know that it may also be protective against cancer. In one animal study, parsley was found to inhibit tumour formation in the lungs. Perhaps you should eat that parsley garnish!

 

Ginseng

It may not be a regular in your kitchen, but this root is well worth including in your diet. In a trial conducted at the UK’s Brain Performance and Nutrition Research Centre, a 400mg dose was found to improve calmness and mental arithmetic skills in healthy adults. Not sure about cooking with it? The root can simply be sliced and infused in hot water for a refreshing tea.

 

Aloe Vera

Often used as a topical remedy for sunburn, this can help soothe your insides too. A small-scale trial conducted in 2013 found that a daily consumption of aloe vera juice was associated with reduced abdominal pain and discomfort in patients with IBS. Even if you don’t suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, aloe vera juice can also help to encourage beneficial gut bacteria.

 

Coriander

Key to many Asian and Mexican dishes, this fragrant leaf has been the subject of several studies. In animals it was found to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol while raising levels of “good” cholesterol. Try mixing with fresh tomatoes, onions and lime juice for a delicious (and quick) salsa dip.

 

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