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Healing Foods Pyramid

Healing Foods Pyramid™

Seasonings Image

Seasonings are included in the Healing Foods Pyramid™ as part of a balanced, whole foods, plant-based diet. This Food Pyramid emphasizes foods that nourish the body, sustain energy over time, contain healing qualities and essential nutrients, and support a sustainable environment.

What are the recommended servings per day?

What are spices, herbs, alliums and hot peppers?

Why choose a variety of seasonings?

Selected Food Sources

The following information is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Due to limited space, we have highlighted only a few of the many beneficial seasonings. More information can be found in the resources section of this document.

Selected Seasonings


curry, turmeric, cumin, chili pepper, fennel, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, mustard seed, black pepper, paprika, salt, cardamom, vanilla, horseradish, anise


parsley, chives, thyme, sage, oregano, mint, rosemary, tarragon, basil, dill, cilantro, coriander, marjoram, caraway, savory


green onions, onions, shallots, leeks, chives, garlic

Hot Peppers

cayenne, jalapeno, Anaheim , chipotle, habanero, Serrano, ancho

Special Considerations

Whole Turmeric in Powdered Form

Fresh Ginger Root

Fresh Garlic Cloves

Fresh or Dried Peppermint

Cayenne Pepper

Whole food vs. supplements

Ideas for Increasing Consumption of Herbs and Spices
  1. Spices and herbs should be stored in a cool, dry place.
  2. Green herbs should be protected against direct sunlight exposure.
  3. Whole spices such as cloves, cumin, or bay leaf, should be added at the beginning of cooking so their full flavor can be extracted. 
  4. Crumbling dried herbs, such as oregano, just before use helps to release their flavor.
  5. Fresh leafy herbs, such as basil or parsley should be added in the last five minutes of cooking.
  6. More robust fresh herbs such as rosemary can be added earlier in the cooking period.
  7. To reduce the heat of hot peppers, remove the seeds.
  8. Fresh herbs can be added to salads, soups and sauces.
  9. For more ideas on how to add herbs and spices to home cooking look at the “Spices” article in the resources section of this document.



Add a Little SPICE (& HERBS) to Your Life!
Henneman, Alice
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
NU Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County
Accessed September 3, 2009

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
Accessed September 3, 2009

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database
Accessed September 3, 2009

Cayenne Pepper
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
Accessed September 3, 2009

Chili Pepper
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
Accessed September 3, 2009

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database
Accessed September 3, 2009

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database
Accessed September 3, 2009

Herbs and Spices
Ann A. Hertzler
Virginia Cooperative Extension
Accessed July 29, 2009

Peppermint Leaf
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database
Accessed September 3, 2009

Original Research and Review Articles

Ahuja K, et al. Effects of daily ingestion of chilli on serum lipoprotein oxidation in adult men and women. British Journal of Nutrition. 2006; 96:239-242.

Bielory L. Complementary and alternative interventions in asthma, allergy and immunology. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2004;93(Suppl 1):45s-54s.

Calder PC, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation and immunity. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2002;56(Suppl 3):14s-19s.

Cavagnaro P, et al. Effect of Cooking on Garlic (Allium sativum L.) Antiplatelet Activity and Thiosulfinates Content. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2007;55:1280-1288.

Craig WG. Health-promoting properties of common herbs. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999;70(Suppl):491s-499s.

Fleishauer AT, et al. Garlic consumption and cancer prevention: meta-analysis of colorectal and stomach cancers. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2000;72:1047-1052.

Gorinstein S, et al. The aethrosclerotic ehart disease and protecting properties of garlic: contemporary data. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2007;51:1365-1381.

Grigoleit HG, et al. Gastrointestinal clinical pharmacology of peppermint oil. Phytomedicine. 2005;12:607-611.

Grzanna R, et al. Ginger – an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2005;8(2):125-132.

Hlebowicz J, et al. Effect of cinnamon on prostprandial blood glucose, gastric emptying, and satiety in healthy subjects. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007; 85:1552-1556.

Kaefer C, et al. The role of herbs and spices in cancer prevention. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2008; 19:347-361.

Mason L, et al. Systematic review of topical capsaicin for the treatment of chronic pain. British Journal of Medicine. 2004;328(7446):998.

Sharma RA, et al. Curcumin: the story so far. European Journal of Cancer. 2005;41:1955-1968.

Tapsell LC, et al. Health benefits of herbs and spices: the past, present, the future. Medical Journal of Australia. 2006; 185: 2s-25s.

Wongcharoen W, et al. The protective role of curcumin in cardiovascular diseases. International Journal of Cardiology. 2009; 133:145-151.

The Healing Foods Pyramid™ was created by the Nutrition Education Team at the University of Michigan Integrative Medicine, Department of Family Medicine in 2005 and updated in 2009.

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