How well do you know your herbs and spices?

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How well do you know your herbs and spices?

It is well known that herbs and spices offer many health benefits that go far beyond adding color and flavor to meals. Not only are herbs and spices used to enrich the taste and replace extra fat, sugar and salt in meals, but they also provide powerful antioxidants while adding no extra calories. But do you know your spices as well as you know your meats and vegetables? Here are some facts that may surprise you.

1. Difference between Herbs, spices and seasoning

Herbs are the leaves of low growing shrubs and can be used fresh or dried. Common examples include sage, parsley , basil, oregano, rosemary, dill, and thyme. Many herbs can be grown both indoors and outdoors.

Spices come from the bark , root, buds, seeds, berry or fruit of tropical plants and trees. Examples include cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pepper, paprika, garlic, mustard and many more.

Seasoning blends are a mixture of dried herbs and spices.

2. Herbs and spices help to decrease salt intake

Using herbs and spices instead of salt is the best way to decrease sodium intake and decrease your risk of heart disease. Most effective spices and herbs in replacing the taste of salt are black pepper, garlic powder, curry powder, cumin, dill seeds, basil, ginger, coriander and onion.

3. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world and this is because the thread-like spice has to be harvested by hand. To glean 1 pound (450 g) of dry saffron requires the harvest of up to 75,000 flowers and 20 hours of labor. Saffron is even more expensive than gold with the price going up to more than $8 per gram.

4. Thyme contains more Iron per gram than any other food

A shocker isn’t it? 100 grams of thyme provides 687% of daily recommended intake for Iron. Of course, you are not going to eat 100 grams of thyme per day but even a single tea spoon (1 gram) provides 1.5 miligram (9% DV).

5. Top selling spices in the world are black pepper and cumin

Pepper is the most popular spice used worldwide. It is grown primarily in Vietnam, Brazil and Indonesia. These countries produce roughly 300,000 tons of pepper each year. Black pepper is followed by cumin, one of the primary seasonings in many Middle-Eastern, Northern African and Indian cultures.

6. Masala means spice

Masala actually means “spice” which also menas that masala blend can contain just about anything. Chat Masala is a tart spice blend while Garam Masala is a warm, earthy blend.

7. Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world

Vanilla is one of the most complex spices in the world and the second most expensive, next to Saffron with its price going up to more than $500 per kilogram.

8. Herbs and spices can help to decrease sugar intake

To reduce sugar intake try to replace added sugar with these sweet tasting herbs: Allspice, anise, cardamom, cinnamon , cloves, ginger, mace, and nutmeg.

9. Star anise is the secret ingridient of Tamiflu

A chemical in Star anise is a major component of Tamiflu (antiviral medication). Shortages of the spice often leads to shortages of Tamifu and increased production of Tamiflu can drive Star Anise prices up. Star anis is also known as Chinese spice.

10. Poppy seeds can cause a positive drug test

It is known that morphine and codeine can sometimes be detected in the urine up to 48 hours after ingestion of poppy seed from some pastries such as bagels, muffins, and cakes (according to USDA).

11. The hottest pepper in the world is Carolina Reaper

The Carolina Reaper is officially the Worlds Hottest Pepper as ranked by Guinness Records with an average SHU (Scoville heat units) of over 1.5 million and peaks at 2.2 Million SHU!

12. Packed with antioxidants

Herbs and spices packed with the most antioxidants include: oregano, sage, peppermint, lemon balm, clove, and cinnamon.

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