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Thread: Benefits of herbs and spices in cooking

  1. #1 Benefits of herbs and spices in cooking 
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    I assume there is a benefit to using herbs and spices in cooking (apart from the obvious improvement in flavour when that is liked) but how important are these dietary benefits actually?

    Are they really fairly minor in the overall picture of things?

    I wonder because not everyone likes them so perhaps they are not as important as I assume they are (I use them at every opportunity -if I have them readily available).

    I heard that they were initially used as a way of preserving food in hot countries where food might otherwise go off quickly (I am thinking of curries here I suppose).


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    Less for preserving than for counteracting any off tastes when meat is stale or on the verge of going off. Some meats are also less palatable when they're freshly killed than after hanging for a while, so adding herbs or spices is a good idea.

    Same thing goes for preserving meat - whether by salting/corning or turning into sausage or jerky or rillettes/pate or whatever. The result is usually better with suitable herbs and/or spices in the preserving solution or mixed with the meat, certainly for counteracting any possible rancid taste from the fat remaining in the meat.


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    Forum Masters Degree LuciDreaming's Avatar
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    Herbs and spices have some beneficial nutrients - thyme for example is full of vitamin K2 and turmeric contains curcumin which has been shown to be beneficial to the liver (amongst other things). Having said that you would have to consume enormous amounts for any therapeutic benefit but every little helps so there is certainly no harm to consuming them. Although I bear their nutrient content in mind when using them, flavour is my main consideration because they really can make the difference between ok food and delicious food.
    Last edited by LuciDreaming; May 17th, 2014 at 11:30 AM. Reason: addition
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    I had a friend who used herbs in 'medicinal quantity.' I couldn't eat her cooking. Yick. Especially when she used turmeric, which is normally one of my favorite spices.
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    Forum Masters Degree LuciDreaming's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DogLady View Post
    I had a friend who used herbs in 'medicinal quantity.' I couldn't eat her cooking. Yick. Especially when she used turmeric, which is normally one of my favorite spices.
    Thats the problem - there isnt really a medicinal quantity with fresh herbs, I think its safe to say a human simply would not have the capacity to consume the amounts needed for therapeutic doses. I'm just guessing but I doubt there would be a reason to rule out a cumulative effect ie if you eat something every day some of the nutrients/chemicals would accumulate and be stored for use. I use turmeric in almost everything mainly because it suits the food I eat but I dont like loads of it - its too earthy and overpowering.
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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  7. #6  
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    Herbs and spices are medicines, they help to keep the body tuned and free from many ailments that are nowhere else to be found in our food chain. Garlic has so many capabilities, pimento, bird pepper, I do not think it is necessary to name them all. people from different culture use different spices for different ailments. I know for my culture it is used in a prophylactic way.
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Herbs and spices are medicines
    And they're also dangerous.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Herbs and spices are medicines, they help to keep the body tuned and free from many ailments that are nowhere else to be found in our food chain. Garlic has so many capabilities, pimento, bird pepper, I do not think it is necessary to name them all. people from different culture use different spices for different ailments. I know for my culture it is used in a prophylactic way.
    In my culture they are used to make things taste good. Period.

    When we are ill we consult the doctor and do not futz around with herbs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Herbs and spices are medicines, they help to keep the body tuned and free from many ailments that are nowhere else to be found in our food chain. Garlic has so many capabilities, pimento, bird pepper, I do not think it is necessary to name them all. people from different culture use different spices for different ailments. I know for my culture it is used in a prophylactic way.
    In my culture they are used to make things taste good. Period.

    When we are ill we consult the doctor and do not futz around with herbs.
    Don't you have any herb that is used in a prophylactic way? You do not use herbs as medicines in your culture at all? Now I have learnt something new. Is it possible to know which culture that is? If it is too private I will understand.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Herbs and spices are medicines, they help to keep the body tuned and free from many ailments that are nowhere else to be found in our food chain. Garlic has so many capabilities, pimento, bird pepper, I do not think it is necessary to name them all. people from different culture use different spices for different ailments. I know for my culture it is used in a prophylactic way.
    In my culture they are used to make things taste good. Period.

    When we are ill we consult the doctor and do not futz around with herbs.
    Don't you have any herb that is used in a prophylactic way? You do not use herbs as medicines in your culture at all? Now I have learnt something new. Is it possible to know which culture that is? If it is too private I will understand.
    Western Europe.

    It's true there are some gullible people who go in for herbal remedies but there is no established, consensus, use of them at all.

    Thank God.
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  12. #11  
    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    There is some preliminary research that suggest that garlic may actually be of benefit to heart health.

    Two supplements that have shown some benefit in your circumstance are fish oil and garlic.

    Research has confirmed that routinely eating fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and trout, can reduce the risk of heart disease and death. The heart benefits seem strongest when eating fatty fish twice a week. For those who don 't like or can 't eat fish, a fish oil supplement is an option. Some studies have shown that taking a fish oil supplement (4 grams daily) modestly reduces blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension. The evidence isn 't strong enough, however, for an all-out endorsement of fish oil as a means to lower blood pressure.
    Garlic also is well known for its potential benefits to heart health, especially lowering high levels of lipids in the blood. And, some evidence indicates that garlic may relax smooth muscles and dilate blood vessels. Studies have shown that taking a garlic extract (200 to 400 milligrams three times daily for one month) can lower blood pressure modestly. This research is preliminary and is not enough to support taking garlic solely to lower blood pressure.
    Supplements are never the whole answer to treat a medical condition. In addition to medication, I hope you and your doctor have discussed the benefits from a healthy diet, exercise and stress management. I always add one more to that list: Find ways to add meaning to your life through work, relationships, volunteering or other activities. These four approaches are the basis for good health in general, no matter what condition you have.
    When you hear about an intriguing supplement, do your homework. With the Internet, it 's not difficult to track down the research study that might be generating news. Check out the size of the study, whether the supplement was compared to a placebo, and details on the results. With that information in hand, talk with your doctor about how the supplement could affect your health.
    Brent Bauer, M.D., Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

    Supplements to Avoid when Dealing with High Blood Pressure | Mayo Clinic News Network
    Hubby and I both enjoy garlic. I have a French loaf currently processing in the bread machine, the recipe for which called for 2 tbsp. of parsley, 2 tbsp. of dried minced onion and 1 1/2 tbsp. of fresh minced garlic. I am eagerly awaiting it's completion. The cooking herbs add a lot of flavor and interest to many foods and while consuming fresh garlic regularly may not be the direct cause of my history of catching very few upper respiratory or digestive track ailments, it certainly seems to help keep the rest of the hacking, spewing germ vectors at bay.

    Stand back or I will breath on you, lol...



    (Interestingly, hubby is not offended by garlic or onion, which we both cook with, but he despises mint and floral fragrances so I have to be very selective in my purchase of dish and laundry soap and personal care products.)
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  13. #12  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Is he French?
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  14. #13  
    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    Is he French?
    LOL...I believe his ancestors were of Mennonite background originally and held some rather strange beliefs before certain factions split off and pursued more logical outcomes. He still very much enjoys a good feed of Mennonite sausage, cabbage rolls and perogies.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Herbs and spices are medicines, they help to keep the body tuned and free from many ailments that are nowhere else to be found in our food chain. Garlic has so many capabilities, pimento, bird pepper, I do not think it is necessary to name them all. people from different culture use different spices for different ailments. I know for my culture it is used in a prophylactic way.
    In my culture they are used to make things taste good. Period.



    When we are ill we consult the doctor and do not futz around with herbs.
    Don't you have any herb that is used in a prophylactic way? You do not use herbs as medicines in your culture at all? Now I have learnt something new. Is it possible to know which culture that is? If it is too private I will understand.
    Western Europe.

    It's true there are some gullible people who go in for herbal remedies but there is no established, consensus, use of them at all.

    Thank God.
    I would think that some of these countries that have used, and are still using herbs and spices, could deliver some vital information. Your remark, "thank God" has drawn my attention. Do you believe in God or science?
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  16. #15  
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    Do you believe in God or science?
    1. "Thank God." is an expression commonly used by everyone, not just believers.

    2. Plenty of people - say the whole of the Catholic church for example - have no problem believing/ accepting both.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    I would think that some of these countries that have used, and are still using herbs and spices, could deliver some vital information. Your remark, "thank God" has drawn my attention. Do you believe in God or science?
    Well of course all these countries make extensive use of herbs and spices. For cooking.

    But there is no culturally established use of them for medicinal purposes.

    Thank God, or thank goodness are expressions in English : thank God - Idioms - by the Free Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.
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  18. #17  
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    Normally, an omnivore actively maintains homeostasis (good health) by selecting foods for their learned nutritional/metabolic qualities. It does not eat randomly. When the omnivore is deficient in a certain vitamin, for example, it will feel a particular imbalance and crave foods it learned will make it feel better. This goes for hydration, pH, etc. as well.

    You can misguide an omnivore's homeostatic activity by feeding it in such a way that it can't distinguish the properties of ingredients. For example if you always accompany celery with peanut butter, the omnivore can't learn which satiates what, nor develop an appropriate craving. We learn most from stark meals (like, over 1 hour all you eat is peanut butter), and learn nonsense from nutritionally balanced concoctions (a B.L.T. sandwich). That seems wrong because we know homeostasis requires all sorts of nutrients, and dieticians instruct us to consume a wide variety of ingredients at a sitting. But it's right if your goal is to learn for yourself what to crave and when, and eat right because you enjoy it, like a normal omnivore.

    Herbs & spices are used to make foods interesting. For most people a more interesting culinary experience means continuing the spiral of misguided cravings based on superficial qualities like appearance, mouth feel, flavour.

    Some vegetables called herbs make fine dishes in their own right though, like parsley sauteed in butter mellows and collapses to a few fork-fulls - you'll need a lot to make a filling dish of this. You can eat chives if you can eat leeks and onions. Garlic can be made impotent and eaten in volume. Mustard greens salad? The word "herb" is not very useful, unless it's a euphemism for "token greens".
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  19. #18  
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    I wonder how I might interpret my own behaviour then ? I always eat 2 foods at one time and I am not sure how "normal" that is.
    I mean I will load my fork or my mouth with 2 different types of food as a matter of course (otherwise I will find it a bit uninteresting)

    My partner has a strong tendency to eat one item at a time .If there are 3 or 4 items on a plate she will very likely start with one item and then move on to the next when she has completely finished the preceding "item". (it is a bit like watching someone do a jigsaw back to front with very large pieces)
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  20. #19  
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    Most children frustrate adults by preferring to digest ingredients in isolation. They like simplicity. For some reason cultures strive to have people eating complicated preparations, so they get diverse nutrients in every bite. It is more sophisticated or mature isn't it?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  21. #20  
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    That is how I look at it but I feel both myself and my partner at at opposite extremes of the scale in that I seem to overdo the mixing and (to my eyes) she seems to not appreciate the pleasure of the combinations of flavours.

    I will have a biscuit and a bit of chocolate at the same time - a little nibble here a little nibble there which I find a little ludicrous but nicer all the same.

    If I had to have a biscuit without a cup of tea also I would feel disappointed.

    By the way I do cook very regularly and although I do like to make combinations my eyes glaze over if I see any recipe that calls for any long series of ingredients (I rarely follow any recipe as it happens -I nearly always just extemporize based on what we had the previous day and what there is in the house at the time)
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