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NDSU Extension Family
Nutrition Program

By Trisha Jessen, NDSU Extension Educator

Why You Should Spice
Up Your Kitchen

If you are like me, you probably have 30 or 40 spices in your cupboard. But how many spices are in your average dish? Most Americans use under 3 per dish and the most common to be used are vanilla, cinnamon, and pepper. In other parts of the world, such as India, the average dish uses 9 spices. There are advantages to using more spice.

One advantage of additional spice is to make the dish healthier. Using herbs, spices, and rubs to make food more flavorful can allow us to reduce sodium, sugar, fat, and/or calories. For most of the population, sodium should be under 2,300 mg. per day. Rinsing canned vegetables with tap water for at least 10 seconds can help reduce sodium by as much as 40%. Sometimes a reduced sodium recipe can taste bland without adding additional spice.

Another advantage of using spice is to make our bodies healthier. Herbs and spices contain antioxidants that can help neutralize or destroy free radicals before they damage cells. Oregano has one of the highest antioxidant levels. One teaspoon of dried oregano has about the same antioxidant power as one half cup of chopped asparagus or 3 ounces of almonds. Thyme, rosemary, red pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and curry are other commonly used spices that contain many nutritional benefits.

Remember to store spices in airtight containers. Also, keep spices away from heat and direct sunlight to maintain freshness and help retain strength.

Check out to find a description of each spice, including how to use in recipes. Also included is current health research on various spices. Spice up your kitchen today!

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