You might have healthy herbs in three locations in your kitchen and have no idea that they are herbs, or you know they are healthy herbs but have you ever wondered “what exactly are herbs?” Well, the African food network is here to answer that question and more questions for you with this article on everything you need to know about healthy herbs and 10 healthy herbs to incorporate into your diet.
Before we begin, of course, we are going to have a discourse about herbs, but we are going to start by asking the obvious question, what are herbs?
Healthy herbs are known to have great health and energy-boosting abilities, and this has been known for ages. Back in the day, in the 8th century, Charles The Great, described herbs as “the praise of cooks and the friend of physicians.” This statement alone should tell you just how much power herbs hold in your everyday life.
What Exactly Are Herbs?
There are a lot of meanings to the word “herb”, it can easily be described as the name for flavor-filled green garnish used for cooking, it can also be the scientific or botanical driving toon, and it can mean so many other things, but we are going to take them one at a time.
The Botanical Definition Of Healthy herbs
Healthy herbs can easily be described as edible flowers, roots, and even leaves of some specific types of herbaceous plants.
What Are Herbaceous Plants?
Herbaceous plants are plants that are often defined or characterized by their inability to possess or lack of above-ground wood stems. Some examples of herbaceous plants are grasses, ferns, and herbs.
Unlike the herbaceous plants, non-herbaceous plants possess above-ground wood stems, and some examples are shrubs, woody bamboo, and trees.
You have some idea of what the botanical definition of an herb is, there are still some other fun definitions of healthy herbs that we will be looking at, so sit tight and enjoy the ride.
Healthy herbs In The Kitchen
The term herb is a common word that is used in the kitchen, it is also a very common ingredient used in the kitchen.
Some might even describe herbs in the kitchen as anything green used for the seasoning of a dish. This isn’t entirely wrong, in fact, it might be a simple and less complex way to put it.
There are some kitchen herbs that do not entirely fit into the botanical definition of healthy herbs (like we described earlier), some of the healthy herbs that don’t fit into the standards of the botanical definition of the s are; thyme (woody shrubs), sage, bay leaves (they usually come from the bay laurel tree), and rosemary.
The term “herbs” cuts across several other different types of greens, in fact, it does not have to be green to be called an herb, some examples of them are mushrooms, sea greens, some parts of non-herbaceous plants and some might include fruits, and spices.
There might be a little confusion with the famous question, are healthy herbs vegetables, and you will get the answers that you need, all here for you, here at the African food network.
Now that you have some idea of what exactly healthy herbs are, a small fragment of the first question has been answered, and we are going to move to the next question, and which is the difference between vegetables and herbs.
Are Vegetables Herbs?
This is a very common question asked when the topic of healthy herbs comes up, but not to worry, sit tight and enjoy the learning process.
The answer to the question “are vegetable herbs?” is not a straightforward answer, because I’m some cases, vegetables might be herbs, and in some other cases, vegetables might not be herbs.
The definition for vegetables and the botanical definition of herbs, (which is described as edible roots, stalks, and leaves of an herbaceous plant) have very similar definitions.
The little difference between vegetables and healthy herbs is that vegetables can easily be described as the “main event of a dish”, while healthy herbs can be added to a dish because of the flavor it gives the dish or the aroma, it can also be used for therapeutic purposes. This is the tiny line that differentiates vegetables from herbs.
To further differentiate healthy herbs from vegetables, vegetables are known for their huge amounts of macronutrients, which would adequately enrich a meal. Some of these popular macronutrients are carbohydrates and proteins.
While healthy herbs are known to contribute or give an addition of bioactive compounds (also known as health promotions chemicals) and micronutrients (minerals and vitamins).
In other words, to give an answer to the question “are vegetable herbs?” The answer is in the botanical definition of healthy herbs and vegetables, which can both be described as edible roots, leaves, or stems of an herbaceous plant. The major difference between healthy herbs and vegetables is the way they are consumed, and the antioxidants (bioactive compounds) that are found in some types of herbs.
This article is about ten healthy herbs that you can incorporate into your diet, meaning we are talking about what goes into your food and how it affects your body, you know what else goes into the body? Spices.
There is another common question that is being asked about herbs, and that is if they are spices or if they are both the same thing.
Don’t worry, every question you have about healthy herbs will be answered in this article, here at the African food network. If you also have questions about any type of food, you can check out these articles about the interesting facts about any type of food, you can always check them out here at the African food network.
Back To The Healthy Herbs
Just like we said earlier, there is always a question or two when it comes to a discussion about herbs, and it is completely okay to ask those questions, that is why the African food network is here to give you clearer pictures about healthy herbs and give you an understanding about whatever type of African food that you eat.
The second question usually asked when it comes to healthy herbs, is the discussion about healthy herbs being spices. We will be making things a little clearer for you, but before we do that, let us answer the question “are healthy herbs different from spices?”
Are Healthy Herbs Different From Spices?
When answering this question in culinary terms, the answer would be yes, healthy herbs are different from spices. In the definition that was given about healthy herbs, we said that healthy herbs are leaves, green plants, or stems only; On the other hand, spices are gotten from different plants of the plant, for example, roots, seeds, flower buds, berries, and bark.
There are a few very common spices, and they are;
- Cumin (dried seeds)
- Cinnamon (dried bark)
- Cloves (dried flower buds)
It gets pretty interesting, some plants are also known to produce both spices and healthy herbs, an example of healthy herbs and spices producing plant is Coriandrum sativum, this plant is responsible for the production of the spice coriander (they are also known as dried seeds) and the herb cilantro (they are also fresh leaves).
This is just the culinary world that differentiates healthy herbs from spices, but in the world of wellness, healthy herbs and spices work hand in hand, and they are both often referred to as herbal (or plant-based) supplements. In this aspect, both healthy herbs and spices work hand in hand and they are both lumped together and both have similar great health benefits.
Another great similarity between healthy herbs and spices is the nutritional benefits they offer the body, which are the effects and the ability
to boost the immune system.
Let us take a look at the health benefits of healthy herbs and spices;
Healthy Herbs And Spices Are Rich In Antioxidants And They Are Anti-Inflammatory
There are so many other great nutritional benefits of healthy herbs and spices but the most common and popular benefit of healthy herbs and spices is the anti-inflammatory and antioxidants properties.
If you are looking for the best sources of antioxidants for spices, they are cloves, oregano, and cinnamon.
There are also some herbs that are known to be greatly anti-inflammatory are Ginger, turmeric, and capsaicin (also known as chili peppers).
Other health benefits of healthy herbs and spices are their ability to aid in the health of the heart, brain health and so many more.
With healthy herbs, the questions don’t stop, it just keeps going on and on, but not to worry, you have the questions, we have the answers.
We have looked at two commonly asked questions when it comes to a discussion about herbs, after clearing the air about the first two questions, which were “are healthy herbs vegetables?” And “are healthy herbs different from spices?” We can now finally continue to take a closer look at what exactly herbs are and why we are talking about them.
We are going to be taking a look at the uses of herbs. Herbs are known to have so many uses, but the most popular uses of herbs are for cooking and it’s medicinal properties. These are two major uses of herbs, but we are going to take a closer look at the uses of healthy herbs.
What Are The Uses Of Healthy Herbs?
Herbs have a very important role to play in our everyday life, in common sense, anyone will tell you that healthy herbs are edible plants that are added to food to help in the improvement and enhancement of the flavor of the food.
Another popular opinion about healthy herbs is that they are used to treat the body, and helps in the provision of some nutrients that are required for the body to function properly. These are both great answers to the question “what are the uses of healthy herbs?” But let us take a closer look into these uses of healthy herbs.
Herbs are mostly known for their medicinal, aromatic, savory, and nutritional properties, they can either be used fresh or dried, and they can be found in almost any type of food or even the ingredient labels.
Healthy herbs don’t just have these two functions, in fact, some healthy herbs are known to be multifunctional; Like the chopped parsley, they are known to add some freshness, flavor, and color to your chicken dish and the same parsley can also be used for the treatment of allergic and autoimmune diseases.
Parsley is not the only multifunctional herb, garlic is also another great multifunctional healthy herb, not only does it give the dish a delicious flavor and aroma, but it is also known to help to lower blood pressure.
Another multifunctional healthy herb is basil; Basil is known to be both an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Rosemary is another healthy and nutrient-filled herb, it also helps to reduce and inhibit allergies.
Are you feeling thirsty? Herbal beverages like peppermint tea, rooibos, and ginger are rich in antioxidants which may also help in the reduction of the risk of some diseases.
Healthy herbs are not only ingested, so you need to feel a little relaxed? Herbal baths will be one of the best options you will choose for some healthy and nutritious rejuvenation and relaxation.
Spending some time soaking in some herbal baths is a great way to feel refreshed and relaxed after a stressful day, a popular herbal bath is a lavender.
Lavender is popularly used in aromatherapy, this is as a result of the calming effects that they possess; Another great herbal product that can be used is Hemp lotion, it is very popular for the red clover and refreshingly natural moisturizer that they possess.
We have covered most of the questions asked when it comes to discourse about healthy herbs, now let us talk some more about healthy herbs and the nutritional benefits of these healthy herbs.
What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Healthy Herbs?
As you already know, having nutritional herbs in your diet is highly nutritious, it will also help add some flavor and aroma to your dish, but we are here to talk about the nutritional benefits of healthy herbs, so let us get into it.
When you take a close look into the nutritional benefits of fresh healthy herbs, you will notice a few similarities with leafy vegetables.
Some nutritional benefits differ, this is very dependent on the herb, but some of them may contain much more minerals and vitamins than leafy vegetables.
- Healthy herbs are known to be low in calories, sodium, and fat.
- If you are having some low-fat foods, healthy herbs will help to improve the taste of the food.
- Spinach is known to be a great source of folate, fiber, iron, calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
- Spinach is low in calories, sodium, and fat.
- Basils contain as many calories as spinach.
- Basils are very rich in iron.
- Basils are rich in vitamin K.
- Basils have twice as much calcium as spinach
- Basils have less vitamin A than spinach, and they are also rich in vitamin A
- Basils are known to contain 4mg of sodium.
Parsley is a pretty interesting herb, it is having a very rich amount of iron and has three times more vitamin K than spinach.
Thyme is another special herb because it is rich in vitamin C, and it is great for cooking, one. The best cooking herbs, this is because elf the rich flavor it gives a dish.
Back To The Health Benefits Of Herbs
- Adequate consumption of healthy herbs can help to prevent certain diseases.
- Garlic is great for people with high blood pressure.
- Onions, garlic, chives, mint, oregano, sage, and so many other types of healthy herbs can help in the protection of the body against cancer.
- Healthy herbs are known to be very rich in antioxidants, but there are a few that are known for their great antioxidant properties, and they are oregano, sage, cinnamon, thyme, and cloves.
- Fresh herbs contain more nutrients than the processed and dried healthy herbs.
After getting to know your herbs a little better, it’s time to know the types of healthy herbs, their properties, and how you can incorporate them into your diet.
The whole point of learning about healthy herbs is simply so that you can be able to enhance the flavor of your food, get some amazing nutrients and live healthily. Not only for your consumption, learning about healthy herbs is to enable you to understand it’s used and incorporate these healthy herbs in your everyday life, giving you a rich, healthy, and happy life. Now, let us take a look at the different types of healthy herbs.
Types Of Healthy Herbs You Can Incorporate In Your Diet
Basil (Scientific Name: Ocimum basilicum
Others may know basil as ‘the great basil’ or ‘the Saint Joseph’s wort’; This healthy herb is a very popular healthy herb, in fact, it is one of the most consumed culinary herbs.
Basils are known to have an abuse-like flavor and a very intense and peculiar aroma, almost like cloves. The flavor and aroma of this healthy herb will give your dish an amazing flavor and aroma, you will not be able to resist.
Not only does this healthy herb have a great flavor, but it is also known to have great health benefits that will leave you feeling refreshed and nourished with great nutrients and minerals.
How Do You Use Basils In Your Diet?
- Basils can be added to the stew, to give it a rich and amazing flavor.
- Basils can also be added to jolly rice.
- Basils can also be used to prepare pasta.
- Basils can be added to salads.
- Basils can be used for the preparation of sauces.
- Basils can also be used to spice your meat.
Mint Leaves (Scientific name: Mentha)
The cultivation of this healthy herb is distributed around Africa, it is another popular healthy herb that has a great aroma and flavor.
This type of healthy herb is mostly used for perfumed fragrances and scents; this is because of the amazing aroma of this healthy herb.
The flavor of this healthy herb is fresh and minty, it is not only used as perfumed scents but it is also used to make drinks like cocktails and so many others (you can check out this article about African cocktails here at the African food network).
Fresh mint is considered to be rich in nutrients and minerals, unlike the dried and processed variety, this is also because of the warm and minty flavor, accompanied by its amazing and sweet aftertaste.
Mint is often used as a remedy for some ailments like stomach aches, chest pains, nausea, and so many others.
Parsley (Scientific Name: Petroselinum crispum
This healthy herb is one of the most popularly grown healthy herbs around the world, the cultivation of parsley over the year has become very popular in some parts of the world, and it is mostly used as a spice, vegetable, or a healthy herb.
Parsley can be used for the preparation of so many African dishes like;
- Jollof rice
- Plantain and vegetable sauce
- Beans porridge
- Waakye rice
- Boiled yam and vegetable sauce
Just like other types of healthy herbs, parsley is known for its distinctive and amazing aroma but has a mild-bitter flavor that is known to enhance the flavor of any dish it is added to.
This healthy herb is known to also have great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help to boost and improve the immune system and generally aids in the digestive processes of the body. Parsley is also a very effective technique used for the treatment of bad breath.
Other Types Of Healthy Herbs
- Cayenne pepper