While superfoods are having their moment in the spotlight, we seem to have forgotten about the benefits of traditional herbs and spices. Used for centuries in medicinal remedies, not only do they help to fight disease and inflammation, surprisingly they’re also one of the best ways to ward off fine lines and wrinkles.
We chatted to nutritionist and herbalist Stephanie Berglin to find out what herbs and spices are best for anti-ageing and how to incorporate them into your diet every day.
Inflammation is said to be one of the main reasons our bodies experience increased rates of ageing. Ginger, with its strong anti-inflammatory properties, helps to combat this while also stimulating digestion and calming the intestines, says Stephanie.
“Grated ginger is great to add to soups and stir fries. You can also put a small chunk in a vegetable juice, or try ginger teas during the colder months to help support the immune system and assist in protecting against potential colds and flu,” she insists.
This smaller version of a blue berry is rich in antioxidants and is believed to prevent the early signs of ageing. What’s more, bilberries are also said to promote better eyesight including night vision.
“Bilberries can be had in tea, as an extract, or dried for a small snack,” recommends the herbalist.
This particular spice is believed to speed up your metabolism by increasing your body’s temperature, therefore experts say cayenne can be good for weight-loss because it can help to reduce your appetite.
“Try cayenne as an alternative to chilli when you’re cooking next,” Stephanie insists. “Add the spice to your green juice to give it an extra boost, or combine it with lemon juice to toss with salad.”
Often referred to by the Chinese as the “Fountain of Youth,’ this ancient spice has been used for thousands of years to treat internal ailments. Thought to improve digestion and appetite, Ginseng is considered a restorative spice that can assist with stress. Enjoy “stewed in water to make soups and teas.”
Turmeric has made quite the comeback in recent years with supermodel and health nut Miranda Kerr admitting to adding it into her morning smoothie. Said to contain loads of anti-inflammatory properties, including curcumin which is good for your joints, it’s possibly one of the more versatile spices to include in your diet.
“A sprinkle of turmeric can help bring to life the most basic of veggie stir fries and can also be used in a morning elixir to help kick start your day with an antioxidant boost,” Stephanie recommends.
This miracle spice is believed to have strong anti-ageing benefits, detoxing properties and has the ability to aid digestion and heal the gut. It’s also known to stabilise blood sugar levels! So how do you get your fix?
“Ground cumin is popularly combined with other spices for a tasty taco seasoning with a rich, earthy flavour,” says Stephanie. “Cumin seeds can also be used to create crispy toppings on baked dishes like atop salmon or chicken.”
This particular herb is high in iron, calcium and vitamin B6, and according to some researchers can help to prevent brain ageing. What’s more, rosemary is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Pair with “lamb or aged beef before roasting,” says the nutritionist. “Alternatively, try combining crushed rosemary with olive oil to spread over toast with brunch.”
A superfood in its own right, cinnamon has been shown to assist with balancing blood sugar in the body, reducing cholesterol and can help women with insulin resistance. With a delicious flavour, Stephanie says “a small amount can be sprinkled over muesli, yoghurt and desserts.
“Alternatively, ask the barista to swap chocolate for cinnamon when you order a cappuccino next.”
Perfect for the cooler months, oregano is considered an immune boosting herb that boasts antibiotic properties. Some research also suggests that it can be used to help fight yeast infections.
Combine “chopped oregano with lemon juice, olive oil and red-wine vinegar to make a delicious vinaigrette and drizzle over salad.”