Did you know spices and dried herbs provide the most antioxidants out of all the foods on our entire planet? Although we typically use minimal amounts in our cooking, they can make all the difference in the overall nutrition of our dishes! For example, just 1 tsp. of ground cloves will provide about 55% of your daily requirement of manganese!
Some nutrients with antioxidant properties are vitamin C, E, and A, for example. One of the biggest benefits of these nutrients for our health is that they can fight free radicals, which can sometimes cause oxidative stress and lead to a number of chronic diseases. It’s important to note that one type of antioxidant is not enough to do all the beneficial work for your body. That’s why we’d like to encourage you to consume a wide variety of plant foods! Not only is this an excellent way to fight off free radicals, but also to get enough fiber and other micronutrients.
One thing you’ll need to understand before reading this article is the meaning of ORAC, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. This is the measurement of the antioxidant content in different foods, which was originally developed at the National Institute of Health (NIH). You can find the entire ranking for all foods tested here.
Keep reading and find out which spices have the most antioxidants!
#8 – Turmeric (ORAC: 127,068)
Shocker, right? We would’ve thought this beloved spice was the highest in antioxidants! However, it is in fact the lowest on our list. That’s not to say it isn’t a great source — blueberries, which are usually considered a high-antioxidant food, have an ORAC score of just 4,669. Use this spice in curries, turmeric lattes, smoothies, and tofu scrambles!
#7 – Cinnamon (ORAC: 131,420)
If you’re excited for cinnamon-loaded Fall treats, you’ll be happy to know that this warm spice is packed with antioxidants! We like to use it in oatmeal, lattes, and all of our seasonal desserts.
#6 – Dried Thyme (ORAC: 157,380)
Thyme is a great herb to add to tomato sauce and beans, and is perfect in any vegetable soup. Other meal ideas that pair well with this high-antioxidant herb are mashed potatoes, lentil meatballs, veggie burgers, and even marmalades!
#5 – Dried Peppermint (ORAC: 160,820)
Peppermint should not be reserved just for Winter treats and beverages! This dried herb is an absolute superfood, which is loaded with antioxidants, and is often used as a quick remedy to an upset stomach. It’s a great addition to teas, hot chocolate, Summer drinks like lemonade or iced peach tea, and even salad dressings!
#4 – Dried Rosemary (ORAC: 165,280)
Rosemary is also a great addition to hot and cold beverages, but it’s a great touch for mashed potatoes and bean stews! However you like to use this dried herb, you should be happy to know that it has one of the greatest antioxidant contents in the world!
#3 – Dried Oregano (ORAC: 175,295)
A favorite for many, oregano is great in almost all dishes! We love using it in lentil soups and pastas, but it’s great in stir-fries, on pizza, and in bread, as well.
#2 – Ground Cloves (ORAC: 290,283)
You may be surprised to learn that cloves have such incredible antioxidant properties! While this spice is usually used sparingly, and in few dishes, we encourage you to get creative with this one — we like to add it to turmeric lattes and desserts for a yummy twist!
#1 – Sumac Bran (ORAC: 312,400)
If you’ve never heard of this antioxidant superstar, sumac is typically used in Middle Eastern dishes, and has a sour/astringent flavor profile. It can be used as a topper for hummus and other Mediterranean dips, as a topping for flatbreads and popcorn (along with some delicious nutritional yeast), or as a tangy addition to salads and roasted veggies.
Ready to put these spices to good use? Let us know how you like to use them in your cooking in the comments section below!