12 Herbs and Spices To Add For Good Health

A sprinkle of this, a pinch of that, and you could turn a tasty dish or drink into a healthier one. Here’s how.

Did you know that some common everyday spices double as antioxidants?  It’s true!  A sprinkle of this, a pinch of that, and you could turn a tasty dish or drink into a healthier one. Here’s how.  

First, What Are Antioxidants, And Why Do We Need Them? 

Antioxidants play a key role in disease prevention by ridding the body of harmful free radicals. An excess of cell-damaging free radicals compromises our immune function. 

Dark chocolate, berries, sweet potatoes, pecans, tomatoes, carrots, and broccoli are great sources of antioxidants. Yet eating antioxidant-rich foods may not be enough.

In Prescription for Nutritional Healing: The A-to-Z Guide to Supplements, Phyllis A. Blanch, CNC states that while many antioxidants can be obtained from food sources, it’s difficult to get enough from these sources to hold back the free radicals constantly being generated in our polluted environment. “Antioxidants work synergistically to give protection against free radical damage, so it’s better to take small doses of several different antioxidants than a large amount of only one.” 

Antioxidants in Herbs and Spices

array of colorful spices in bowls

So, where could you look for additional antioxidants?  Think spices and herbs! Certain herbs and spices have been found to be richer, more concentrated sources of antioxidants than the foods mentioned above. 

Read: Heal With Turmeric

It’s easy to incorporate spices into your meals and beverages throughout the day. A little goes a long way to up your intake.  

Top 12 Antioxidant Herbs & Spices (By ORAC Value*), Ground or Dried 

High ORAC spices (and foods) may help contribute to lowering your risk of disease.

Herbs and SpicesORAC* Value
Cloves, ground314,446
Cinnamon, ground267,537
Oregano, dried159,277
Parsley, dried74,349
Basil, dried67,553
Curry Powder48,504
Ginger, ground28,871
Pepper, black27,618
Chili Powder23,636
*ORAC is the abbreviation for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity units, a unit of measurement for antioxidants developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). No daily serving quantity has been established.

What are your favorite spices to add to foods? Tell us in the comments below!

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Deborah Tukua

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.

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Helen A McCallum

I put a short cinnamon stick in the coffee grounds every morning when I make a pot / tastes good and sometimes I add a pinch of pepper or turmeric too. I like a good adventure.


I use cummin, oregano, tumeric and black pepper to most of my dishes


Food we ate as children is called organic now in days

Marcia A John

I like to use cloves in my meats, cinnamon with a fresh brew of tea and turmeric in everything from eggs to rice even in my tea occasionally.


I make my version of masala chai: cinnamon stick, whole cloves (slightly crunched), fresh ginger, green cardamom pods (a bit crunched), nutmeg, black pepper, allspice (wee bit) simmered in water for an hour or so, add black or green tea, then plant-based milk; strain the lot and add honey.


I like to add a little garlic salt and powder to a pot of beans with a touch of Cayenne pepper.


I use turmeric when making hot spiced tofu – for breakfast – just dice up some tofu sprinkle with a 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric. In a skillet use a Tbl spoon of olive oil to heat the tofu then as the tofu cooks add a few drops of hot sauce and serve over kale leaves.

Doreen Telemacque

Chief Curry powder is my favorite, it gives flavor and colour.


I sprinkle basil over everything.. veggies rice noodles and even meat


I like to add oregano to my eggs, whether fried, scrambled or boiled. It gives them a little flavor.

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