They are both plants, they are both kitchen staples, they are both packed with health benefits. We talk a lot about herbs and spices, and, sometimes, they may seem like they are interchangeable. While there are certain plants that straddle the line between the two categories, for the most part, herbs and spices are two unique categorizations and should therefore be thought of as, well, different.
Here’s everything you need to know about the difference between herbs and spices.
Herbs vs. Spices
The simplest way to differentiate between herbs and spices is to look at their plant of origin. Herbs are derived from the leaves of the plant (basil, mint, thyme, oregano, sage) or the living offshoots of a plant system (chives, garlic scamps). Though some herbs are eventually dried before being packaged or used, they are, for the most part, able to be enjoyed raw.
Spices, on the other hand, come from other parts of plants, such as the roots, the stems, the seeds, or the stalk. Cinnamon is ground from the bark of a certain species of trees, while fennel and cumin come from ground seeds. Though there are some exceptions (turmeric and ginger come to mind), spices are usually derived from dried plant parts.
Both herbs and spices are packed with incredible nutrients that support overall wellness. Many spices are anti-inflammatory; ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and cardamom are all great additions to combat inflammation. Herbs, too, offer a variety of benefits, including cognitive boosts, increased immunity, and better overall health.
How to Use Herbs
Herbs are some of the easiest (and most fun!) ingredients to use in the kitchen. Try to add chopped basil and parsley into your salad mix for a subtle burst of flavor. Stir chives and sage into ricotta cheese for an easy dip or spread. If all else fails, chop up your herb of choice and simply sprinkle it onto toast, into marinades or over roast vegetables. You really can’t go wrong especially when you can harvest fresh herbs from your own patio. See what herbs are perfect to plant where you are right now.
How to Use Spices
One of the easiest ways we have found to enjoy more spices is in our morning cup of coffee. A dash of cinnamon and cardamom on top of a latte is a delightful–and healthy–way to start the morning. Spices can also be blended in smoothies (ginger is particularly delicious), brewed into tea (we love ashwagandha), or added into soups (cayenne packs a punch!) to reap ultimate flavors and benefits.