Herbs and Spice Make Everything Nice

Herbs and spices for cooking on dark background
AlexRaths/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Go ahead … Cilantro your salsa! Nutmeg your spinach! Cinnamon your apples!

Elevating the flavor of your food is as easy as a sprinkle and a shake. And with National Nutrition Month upon us, what better way to tempt your taste buds than to spin that Lazy Susan and add the dried spice of your choice?

Not only will your meals taste more delicious, but you will reap the two-bonus benefit of no added sodium and the potential to help fight cancer and inflammation.

From brand names to specialty shops and online markets, spices are available everywhere you look — but there’s one caveat that could have a big consequence for you and your family

Did you know that imported dried spices can be contaminated and cause food poisoning, particularly Salmonella? And we’re talking about common spices such as black pepper, oregano and basil. Although eighty percent of spices in the U.S. are imported, you can put your mind at ease and keep your family safe with these smart tips:

  1. Heating and toasting spices brings out the fabulous flavors of the natural oils and can also kill bacteria. In cooking, a temperature between 150 and 170 degrees F will destroy bacteria.
  2. A general rule: The cheaper the spice, the more likely it is to be contaminated with Salmonella or other bacteria. To be safest, buy high-quality spices.
  3. Ask questions or read online about the food safety practices of the company you buy from such as requirement of their suppliers to make sure spices are safe, if the spices are treated to kill bacteria, etc.
  4. Label your spices and use them within a year or freeze them.
  5. If someone in your family is at high risk for food poisoning such as the elderly, pregnant women or someone with a compromised immune system, toast spices or add during cooking to be extra safe.

Now that you are armed with information you need to stay healthy, go wild. The opportunities to pump up flavor with dried spices are endless. Enjoy the adventure and savor the flavors in every last bite.


Read more: Keep Herbs Fresh and Safe

Regina Ragone, RDN, MS, and Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND on Twitter
Regina Ragone, RDN, MS, and Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND
Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND, and Regina Ragone MS, RDN, share the food you love, how to stay fit for life and be fabulous everyday through their Breaking Down Nutrition podcasts, videos, social media and websites Food Fit Fabulous and BreakingDownNutrition.com. Connect with them here and on Twitter.