Most Common Herbs & Spices

Updated April 17, 2017

Herbs and spices bring a zing to culinary dishes and provide health benefits to people all over the world. You can find the most common herbs and spices in any grocery store, and use them to enhance your meals and boost your health.

Black Pepper

Perhaps the most common spice in the world, black peppercorns (also known as piper nigrum) are berries that grow on a pepper plant. Sprinkle a bit of ground peppercorns on just about any dish--from meat loaf to salad--to add a bit of spicy flavour. Black pepper also consitutes an excellent source of manganese.


Basil belongs to the mint family, but adds a unique and peppery flavour to meals. It plays a prominent role in pesto and pasta sauces, and can also accent meat dishes and soups. Basil contains high amounts of flavonoids, vitamin A and magnesium.


One of the oldest spices known to man, cinnamon has flavoured foods and cured illnesses for thousands of years. Over 100 different types of cinnamon exist, but the two most common are Ceylon and cassia. Use cinnamon to add depth and heat to warm drinks and extra flavour to baked goods. Cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar, promote circulation and stop fungal and bacterial growth.


The herb garlic, nicknamed "the stinking rose," has a reputation as a superfood for its anti-cancer properties, its ability to protect the cardiovascular system, its function in regulating metabolism, and its effectiveness as an antibiotic. Add garlic to just about any meat dish or sautéed vegetables for extra taste and health benefits. You can use powdered garlic to spice up dishes, but fresh garlic provides the most flavour.


The ginger we put in our foods is actually the root of the ginger plant: aromatic and spicy. It goes well with teas, baked goods, rice dishes and sushi. Steeping fresh ginger root in boiling water makes a simple tea that helps with digestion and nausea. Ginger serves as a good source of potassium and magnesium.


Oregano means "mountain joy," and it has definitely brought a lot of joy to cooks around the world for centuries. Oregano's versatility lets it work well in tomato-based sauces, Mexican foods and Mediterranean-inspired dishes. It also contains stellar antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Oil of oregano makes a popular health supplement for treating and staving off colds and flu bugs.

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About the Author

From the quirky town of Manitou Springs, Colo., Leslie Martin writes for Demand Studios and others. After copywriting in-house for Unity and freelance for many spiritual and alternative medicine companies, Martin now concentrates her 15 years of writing experience and knowledge into sharing the benefits of complementary medicine.