Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is important to our overall health because carrying excess weight on the body is associated with a higher risk for developing serious health conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, and even certain cancers (1).
There are many components to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, like getting proper sleep and eating a balanced diet of nutrient-dense foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, lean meats, and wild-caught fish) both help us to maintain a healthy weight. And, incorporating movement and being physically active each day can help us achieve and maintain a healthy weight as well.
But, did you know that certain herbs and spices have been found to help fight food cravings, and boost fat burning and weight loss?
Herbs found to aid weight loss
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is an herb and member of the mint family that contains a compound called carvacrol which may help decrease weight by altering the production of fat in the body (2). One animal study found that carvacrol affected specific genes and proteins that control fat production (2).
Cayenne pepper (Capsicum annuum) is a type of chili pepper belonging to the nightshade family of plants like bell peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. Cayenne peppers contain an active compound called capsaicin, found to increase energy expenditure in amounts that produce significant levels of weight loss over time, and when consumed regularly reduce abdominal fat and hunger which can lead to fewer calories consumed which then has a positive effect on weight loss (3) (4).
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), a member of the ginger family, has many health benefits associated with it including weight loss. This spice contains curcumin which has been found to counteract fat tissue inflammation and insulin resistance and enhance diet and lifestyle interventions in overweight individuals with metabolic syndrome (5). One preliminary study showed daily intake of curcumin increased weight loss, reduced body fat, and increased reductions in waistline and hip circumference as well as BMI (body mass index) (6).
Chicory, basil, echinacea, and dandelion contain a substance called chicoric acid which supports normal blood sugar levels and breaks down cholesterol as well as fat in the body which decreases body weight (7) (8).
Ways to incorporate herbs daily
Diversifying the herb and spice cabinet and using these in our food and beverages each day will not only increase the flavor and nutrient profile of our dishes but may even aid weight loss efforts.
Turmeric, cayenne, basil, and oregano can be great additions to meals. Choose a couple of these herbs and spices and add a teaspoon or two each day to your nutrient-dense whole food meals to increase your nutrient intake and boost weight loss.
Fresh dandelion and echinacea leaves can be added to a salad, and dandelion root (dried) can be brewed into a tea to consume between meals to help reduce appetite and cravings.
Chicory root (dried) can be added to or used in place of coffee as a healthy weight-loss promoting beverage.
Increasing our intake of herbs and spices helps to boost the flavor of our meals, increase our nutrient intake, and can even help us reduce our weight over time.