If you’re currently seasoning your dinner with just salt and pepper, it’s time to get on the spice bandwagon! Herbs and spices are secret nutrition powerhouses, chock full of disease-fighting benefits. Unlock this potential by simply making your meals more flavorful–a win win for your taste buds and every organ in your body!

Some examples of why you should start adding spices to your food today:

Turmeric: This potent yellow root, often used in powder form, contains the active ingredient curcumin. It quite possibly might be the most powerful spice in our kitchens. It’s been shown to inhibit cancer cells and is an awesome anti-inflammatory tool, great for joint pain, after a surgery, wound healing, gut inflammation, and really supports the whole body. Mixing it with black pepper enhances its benefit (but can also be rough on your system if you have gut issues, so do this with care).

Ginger: Also an impressive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, ginger is great for pain, protects against cancer, and of course is a well-known antidote for nausea or an upset tummy. Add it to a smoothie, a tagine or steep some in hot water to make a tea.

Parsley: This delicate green helps flush toxins out of the body, acting as a detoxifier. It’s also rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant, and contains B vitamins and beta carotene. We love it fresh and also dried, where it adds a fresh flavor to pilafs or veggie dishes.

We could go on and on, but every herb and spice contains many nutrients that aid in supporting your body’s health in various ways. One more compound we want to highlight is salicylic acid.

Many doctors recommend taking a baby aspirin to their patients to lower the risk of blood clots, heart attack or stroke–and turns out, for cancer prevention or recurrence, particularly colon cancer and potentially prostate cancer.

One 2019 study showed that adults 66 and older taking aspirin 1-3 times per month was associated with a 13% reduced risk of dying from cancer. Those who took the aspirin 3 or more times per week had a 15% risk reduction, and specifically for colon cancer, the reduced risk increased to 29-44%. That’s pretty big!

So we wonder, instead of relying on a pharmaceutical drug for this benefit, can we get the same results from making sure we eat lots of salicylic acid, the compound in aspirin thought to be responsible for this anti-cancer magic? Salicylic acid is found generously in plant-based foods like vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, herbs, spices and tea.

So while we can’t tell you whether or not to take a baby aspirin daily–you’ll have to talk to your medical doctor and make the decision that feels right to you–we know that loading up on these foods and getting this compound into your body via natural routes can only help strengthen your body against disease.

It turns out that herbs and spices boast the most amount of salicylates – and these easy-to-sprinkle additions to your meals might be something you’re not currently using in abundance. If you’re just using salt and pepper in your cooking, we invite you to start thinking about how you can expand your herb and spice repertoire, since not only will they give your meals more depth of flavor, but they truly boost the health benefits of your food. Pretty much any spice you enjoy can be added to your breakfast, lunch and dinner–think cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, dill, oregano, turmeric, thyme, basil, bay paprika, ginger and more. One in particular seems to contain the highest levels–cumin. It contains almost 15 times more salicylic acid than turmeric or paprika, and just one teaspoon has about the same amount of salicylic acid as a baby aspirin! Isn’t nature the best? It’s a great addition to Indian, Mediterranean, Latin or Middle Eastern dishes.

Animal products like meat, eggs and dairy, and oils, contain almost no salicylic acid–these are prominent in the Standard American Diet. Coincidence? We think not! In fact, communities in rural India have been studied and found to have about double the levels of this acid in vegetarians in the Western world, and about 4x higher than omnivores.

Another cool factoid? Another study found that soups cooked with organic vegetables had almost 6x the amount of salicylic acid than soups boiled with conventional vegetables. One more reason to go organic!

Questions about how to use herbs and spices in more effective and interesting ways? Book a call with one of our nutritionists today!