There is no official definition of the term “superfood”, and rightly so, since each food – whether it is a fruit, vegetable, spice or other -, as long as it grows, is harvested, transported, preserved and processed under good conditions, will have a wide range of aromatic, nutritional and even medicinal properties. The term is more commonly used for foods that come from far away and have properties considered exceptional, but we will keep a more global approach here.
Some “superfoods” are found in our gardens, others come from very far away, and it is above all the whole that must be considered: how is it produced, under what conditions, how is it used in dishes, how is it appreciated and digested by the person who consumes it…
Some super foods are known for their particular richness in this or that nutrient, and can be a great help to some people. Some are more controversial in terms of the “health” properties sometimes attributed to them, but may be interesting in terms of taste, texture, or advantageously replace another food that may cause problems (allergies, sensitivities, intolerances…).
In this article we first detail spices and herbs, followed in future articles by edible wild plants, spirurina, chia seeds, and many others.
Spices and herbs
Spices and aromatic herbs are condiments, since by definition they are intended to enhance the taste of foods and dishes.
What is a spice?
The spices come from cultures or wild gatherings. They can come from different parts of the plants:
● of bark (cinnamon)
● of flowers (saffron, cloves)
● of leaves (tea, laurel)
● of fruits (pepper, dill, mustard)
● bulbs (garlic, onion, ginger)
● of seeds (fennel, coriander)
What is an aromatic herb?
Aromatic herbs are grown for their aromatic, condimentary or medicinal qualities. They are generally used fresh, dried or dehydrated to season, season, season or flavour various raw or cooked culinary preparations. They mainly belong to three botanical families:
● alliums: garlic, chives, shallot, onion.
● apiates: dill, angelica, green anise, caraway, chervil, coriander, cumin, fennel, larch, parsley.
● lamiaceae: basil, lavender, marjoram, lemon balm, mint, oregano, rosemary, savory, sage, thyme. The term “herbs” sometimes refers to a mixture of four aromatic herbs, composed of chives, chervil, parsley and tarragon.
● Zingiberaceae: Turmeric (one of the ingredients of curry in particular), ginger, cardamom and galanga.
Some recommend using them:
In moderation for pepper, curry, chilli, chili, paprika, harissa and tabasco (excessive consumption can increase the permeability of the digestive tract or promote hemorrhoids and disrupt venous return).
Several times a day for garlic, onion, shallot, parsley, coriander, oregano, dill, savory, snake, chives, basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaf, anise, star anise, mint, mustard, ginger, turmeric, galanga, cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, nutmeg, cumin, pink berries, cloves, nutmeg, saffron…
In general, spices and aromatic herbs are used to reduce the intake of salt, sugar and saturated fats. But they also have many other health benefits, as many studies have shown:
● they have antioxidant properties and as such contribute to the protection of the cardiovascular and cerebral system.
● they are very good anti-inflammatory.
● they are excellent sources of essential minerals
● they have many other medicinal properties.
To be continued….
Sources about superfoods (FR):
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