The Made in Oasis Complete Nutrition Guide to the Alkaline Diet suggests eating organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible, and this extends to your seasonings. You can find organic versions of these ingredients in your local health store. We've broken these flavors up into two groups, the mild flavors, and the pungent and spicy ones. The good news is, you can grow many of the flavorings, like the green herbs and peppers, yourself in a small garden or pots on your window sill. It makes for a fun project, and it is delightful to add plants you have grown yourself to your cooking.
In recipes, if you replace dried herbs with fresh, the recommended exchange is one tablespoon of fresh herbs for one teaspoon of dried. And remember, dried herbs and spices are added earlier in dishes, but if you are using fresh herbs, you will want to add them at the end of the cooking process.
Basil and Sweet Basil
Basil is an incredibly popular herb used in many cuisines, including Thai, Italian, and Greek. Basil is high in vitamin K and antioxidants. One of the exciting benefits basil may have is a protective quality for your gut, especially against damage by aspirin. Researchers have been studying basil and how this effect could prevent ulcers in patients who take aspirin. (1) Other interesting basil studies are being conducted to look at this leafy herb's ability to relieve mental conditions like depression. (2)
Bay leaves come from the Laurus nobilis, a member of the laurel tree family. They are lovely for flavoring savory soups and stews. Cooks add the leaves to dishes while they are simmering, but the leaves should be removed before serving. Some studies show that bay leaves have medicinal benefits as well. For example, researchers are studying how bay leaves can help manage blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. (3)
Cloves can be purchased whole or ground. They are the woody flower buds of the clove tree, which is an evergreen. Besides its warm, pleasing flavor, cloves have other health benefits. For one, they are high in manganese. Just two teaspoons of ground cloves will provide 55% of your needed intake of manganese. Manganese is essential for bone health and for helping to improve glucose tolerance. (4) Cloves are also antimicrobial, which means they are effective against bacteria. (5)
Dill is a leafy herb frequently found in gardens alongside basil, oregano, and thyme. Cooks use the leaves, stems, seeds, and flower heads of the plant. Dill has been used in Asian traditional medicine for centuries to treat the effects of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. (6) Dill is also a good source of antioxidants and plant flavonoids.
Like basil, oregano is frequently associated with Italian food. However, the origin of this leafy herb is most likely from Greece. Its name in Greek means "joy of the mountain." In traditional medicine, oregano was used to calm nerves and upset stomachs. (7) In modern medicine, researchers are studying oregano and thyme's ability to reduce inflammation. (8) Inflammation is a problem in many chronic ailments.
Savory is another delicious herb that also has its roots in traditional medicine. It has been used to help with coughs and sore throats and GI disorders like indigestion, gas, and nausea. Savory has even been used as an aphrodisiac.
Like savory, tarragon has been used in traditional folk medicine. Traditionally it is used for the relief of GI issues and the treatment of pain. And it seems these traditional healers knew what they were doing! Researchers have looked at tarragon and confirmed that it has beneficial effects on pain management. (9) It seems particularly helpful with osteoarthritis.
Thyme is a plant with tiny leaves but a long history. It was used in the embalming practices of ancient Egyptians and as incense by ancient Greeks. Studies on thyme show that it may help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. (10) You can purchase thyme sprigs to add to broths or as a ground spice.
Pungent and Spicy Flavors
Achiote is made from the seeds of the achiote tree. It gives food a yellow to deep orange color and imparts a peppery, floral flavor. Research shows that achiote has antimicrobial properties. (11) Achiote is high in Vitamin E, bixin, and norbixin. The last two are carotenoids that give it its signature color and make it helpful in promoting eye health. (12)
Cayenne and Habanero Peppers
Cayenne and Habanero peppers provide a ton of flavor to your food but also have health benefits. These peppers are high in Vitamin A, but the compound they are most known for is capsaicin. Capsaicin is what makes these peppers hot. The more capsaicin there is in a pepper, the hotter it is. The heat in capsaicin has metabolism-boosting properties. (13) Not only can it help you burn more calories, but some studies show that it also suppresses appetite. (14) So, if you are looking to reduce your weight, these fiery peppers can help you in your efforts!
The coriander plant produces fresh coriander leaves (called cilantro in the United States) and coriander seeds. Both of these have been used in traditional cuisines around the world for centuries. Some studies have shown that coriander seeds can be very beneficial in reducing blood sugar levels. (15) Coriander also has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Interestingly, researchers also feel that coriander might also help with brain conditions like anxiety. (16)
Onions are on The Complete Alkaline Nutrition Guide, and their dried form as a spice is also included. Onions are a favorite of cooks everywhere and also found in traditional medicine. In fact, ancient texts from Egypt, Greece, China, and India all list their medicinal properties. (17) They have been used to reduce headaches, help with heart disease, and for their anti-cancer properties. Even dried onion powder retains some of these benefits.
Sage leaves can be used fresh or dried. They are a powerful source of Vitamin K - just one teaspoon provides 10% of your recommended daily intake. Like many of the ingredients on this list, sage is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols - plant-based chemical compounds that are important to your overall well being. Sage also has antimicrobial effects and has been used to support oral health and prevent cavities. Sage has also been used traditionally to help menopausal women who suffer from hot flashes. (18)
As you explore the foods in the Alkaline Diet, also experiment with these flavors. These ingredients have been loved by chefs and used in traditional medicine for centuries. If there are any on the list you haven't tried before, now is a great time to taste them and see how they can enhance your dishes and health. You can start simply by adding a small amount to grain dishes made with the ancient grains listed in the guide.
(1) Abd El-Ghffar, Eman Ali et al. "The protective role of Ocimum basilicum L. (Basil) against aspirin-induced gastric ulcer in mice: Impact on oxidative stress, inflammation, motor deficits and anxiety-like behavior." Food & function vol. 9,8 (2018): 4457-4468. doi:10.1039/c8fo00538a
(2) Ayuob, Nasra Naeim et al. "Can Ocimum basilicum relieve chronic unpredictable mild stress-induced depression in mice?." Experimental and molecular pathology vol. 103,2 (2017): 153-161. doi:10.1016/j.yexmp.2017.08.007
(3) Khan, Alam et al. "Bay leaves improve glucose and lipid profile of people with type 2 diabetes." Journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition vol. 44,1 (2009): 52-6. doi:10.3164/jcbn.08-188
(4) "Manganese." National Institutes of Health, 3 June 2020, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Manganese-HealthProfessional/.
(5) Nzeako, B C et al. "Antimicrobial activities of clove and thyme extracts." Sultan Qaboos University medical journal vol. 6,1 (2006): 33-9.
(6) Goodarzi, Mohammad Taghi et al. "The Role of Anethum graveolens L. (Dill) in the Management of Diabetes." Journal of tropical medicine vol. 2016 (2016): 1098916. doi:10.1155/2016/1098916
(7) Nolte, Kurt. "Oregano." College of Agriculture and Life Sciences | The University of Arizona, cals.arizona.edu/fps/sites/cals.arizona.edu.fps/files/cotw/Oregano.pdf.
(8) Bukovská, Alexandra et al. "Effects of a combination of thyme and oregano essential oils on TNBS-induced colitis in mice." Mediators of inflammation vol. 2007 (2007): 23296. doi:10.1155/2007/23296
(9) Maham, Masoud et al. "Antinociceptive effect of the essential oil of tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)." Pharmaceutical biology vol. 52,2 (2014): 208-12. doi:10.3109/13880209.2013.824007
(10) Alamgeer et al. "Pharmacological evaluation of antihypertensive effect of aerial parts of Thymus linearis benth." Acta poloniae pharmaceutica vol. 71,4 (2014): 677-82.
(11) Galindo-Cuspinera, Veronica et al. "Antimicrobial properties of commercial annatto extracts against selected pathogenic, lactic acid, and spoilage microorganisms." Journal of food protection vol. 66,6 (2003): 1074-8. doi:10.4315/0362-028x-66.6.1074
(12) Raddatz-Mota, Denise et al. "Achiote (Bixa orellana L.): a natural source of pigment and vitamin E." Journal of food science and technology vol. 54,6 (2017): 1729-1741. doi:10.1007/s13197-017-2579-7
(13) Janssens, Pilou L H R et al. "Acute effects of capsaicin on energy expenditure and fat oxidation in negative energy balance." PloS one vol. 8,7 e67786. 2 Jul. 2013, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067786
(14) Yoshioka, M et al. "Effects of red pepper on appetite and energy intake." The British journal of nutrition vol. 82,2 (1999): 115-23.
(15) Chithra, V., and S. Leelamma. "Coriandrum Sativum — Mechanism of Hypoglycemic Action." ScienceDirect.com, Food Chemistry, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S03...
(16) Mahendra, Poonam, and Shradha Bisht. "Anti-anxiety activity of Coriandrum sativum assessed using different experimental anxiety models." Indian journal of pharmacology vol. 43,5 (2011): 574-7. doi:10.4103/0253-7613.84975
(17) Nicastro, Holly L et al. "Garlic and onions: their cancer prevention properties." Cancer prevention research (Philadelphia, Pa.) vol. 8,3 (2015): 181-9. doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0172
918) Rahte, Sinikka et al. "Salvia officinalis for hot flushes: towards determination of mechanism of activity and active principles." Planta medica vol. 79,9 (2013): 753-60. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1328552