Whether you are an experienced cook or just love food, everyone knows that herbs and spices make food taste amazing. Besides providing more flavor, adding spices when cooking reduces the need for salt, creates an inviting aroma and can improve the appearance of food.

In addition, spices are particularly potent in supporting health and treating disease, due to their high concentrations of health-promoting compounds. While you should consult your healthcare practitioner about specific medical conditions, spices are something you should routinely add to your recipes. Here are five herbs and spices that Chef Marshall highly recommends:

Cardamom – Buy this as pods or as a ground spice. Cardamom brings a flavorful zest and subtle sweetness to dishes and is excellent in whole grain breakfast bowls, in curries with chicken and fish and is popular in teas. It can lower blood pressure due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Ginger – Ginger is very versatile and can be used in stir-fries, smoothies and marinades. Ginger improves circulation, relaxes the muscles surrounding blood vessels and can serve as a digestive aid.

Rosemary – Rosemary has a pungent but pleasant aroma with a distinct flavor, excellent in savory dishes. Rosemary tastes great with roasted vegetables, Italian cooking, pork, chicken, beef such as this grilled steak recipe, and in marinades. With its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, it can help ease nausea and swelling.

Turmeric – Turmeric gives food a bright yellow/orange color. It provides a floral, earthy flavor and is used in an variety of Indian and Asian recipes and salad dressings such as Chef Marshall’s Turmeric Balsamic Vinaigrette. Its anti-inflammatory properties may help lower blood pressure, which helps support one’s cardiovascular system.

Cinnamon – Cinnamon is excellent in many dishes from pancakes, oatmeal and sauces, to fruits, like this fun frozen treat, Frosty Banana Pops. The antioxidants in cinnamon can help relieve inflammation, which may help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline. Compounds in cinnamon may also help manage diabetes and lower blood pressure.

Here’s something surprising about herbs and spices: Many of them contain more vitamins than fruits or vegetables! For example, parsley contains more vitamin C than an orange, and is one of the best sources of vitamin K, which supports bone health and may help treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Modern science confirms much of what people have known for centuries—herbs and spices are effective in preventing and treating many common conditions and chronic diseases. Almost any health complaint or condition can be addressed with herbs and spices.

For many reasons, spices should be a part of your food world. They make your food tastier and more appealing, plus they provide health benefits that improve your quality of life. Start simple and, as you gain confidence, expand the spices you use. You will soon be wondering why you did not have all this fun years ago!