Spices are aromatic vegetable substances (dried seeds, fruits, roots, bark or other vegetative substance) caracterized as a class by containing some essential or volatile oil which gives taste and individuality to the material. They are composed of mineral matterand the various nitrogenous and non-nitrogenous compounds found in all plant bodies. Spices are used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for the purpose of flavoring, and indirectly for the purpose of killing and preventing growth of pathogenic bacteria.

Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are usually leafy, green plant parts used for flavoring purposes.
Herbs, may be used fresh or dried, and are commonly chopped into smaller pieces. Spices are dried and usually ground into a powder.

Spices are secret "friends" of every serious cook. We usually don't see them on the table. They never played leading roles in front of our friends or family such as those of the meat, salads or favorite dessert. But, they are very important members of "the cast" which performed the small, yet important part in the production of the pleasing tout ensemble of soup, stew, sauce, salad or any other popular dish. They make that unforgettable taste what lingers in our memory long after the main actors are forgotten.

TIP: Try using spices and herbs to season your food and cut down the amount of salt you use without affecting good taste of food.

If you want to learn how to add exotic flavors and variety to your cooking, look no further than our spices section:

Real Cooking

Spices May Protect
Against Consequences Of High Blood Sugar
Herbs and spices are rich in antioxidants, and a new University of Georgia study suggests they are also potent inhibitors of tissue damage and inflammation caused by high levels of blood sugar.

Researchers, whose results appear in the current issue of the Journal of Medicinal Food, tested extracts from 24 common herbs and spices. In addition to finding high levels of antioxidant-rich compounds known as phenols, they revealed a direct correlation between phenol content and the ability of the extracts to block the formation of compounds that contribute to damage caused by diabetes and aging.

“Because herbs and spices have a very low calorie content and are relatively inexpensive, they’re a great way to get a lot of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power into your diet,” said study co-author James Hargrove, associate professor of foods and nutrition in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Hargrove explained that when blood sugar levels are high, a process known as protein glycation occurs in which the sugar bonds with proteins to eventually form what are known as advanced glycation end products, also known as AGE compounds. The acronym is fitting because these compounds activate the immune system, resulting in the inflammation and tissue damage associated with aging and diabetes.

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by University of Georgia