They are best known for being used in combinations with various types of meat. Although they are mainly appreciated because of their aroma and flavor, they also have an antimicrobial role. Since in warmer climates, meat can become spoiled and cause food poisoning, using spices has been commonly widespread in such areas from the ancient times.
Spices are a great way to add flavor to food, without adding unnecessary calories. Especially for those who want to keep up with a certain diet, adding more spices to their menu (not salt, as salt is a mineral, not a spice) can greatly increase their chances to succeed in maintaining their intake of calories low.
Culinary spices are a great source of micronutrients, and they can add to the intake of daily vitamins and minerals in concentrated form. Iron, magnesium and calcium are often found in spices, and consuming such foods regularly increases overall health.
Flavonoids are often present in the composition of spices, enhancing the absorption of other healthy nutrients.
Revised August 30th, 2015
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The large category of spices includes many varieties of dry seeds, fruits, roots, bark or vegetables, in powder form or as is. Unlike culinary herbs, spices are never leaves and they are not used to garnish dishes, but mainly to add distinctive flavors.