5 Herbs You Should Always Have In Your Kitchen That Are Both Full Of Flavor And Extremely Good For You

Learning to cook was one part fear and two parts exasperation for me. But after a course called "Cooking with Herbs," my attitude toward cooking transformed. The class connected me to the process, making it more of a creative exercise and less of a chore. Not to mention I learned all about the amazing antioxidant powers of fresh herbs, which is what brings me to my point.

Herbs are like magic — they can make a dingy kitchen smell like a romantic garden in France, and they can even, when coaxed with some hot oil, create a simple sauce with flavor that wows.

Herbs can be pricey, though, because of the way they are packaged. If you've ever found yourself buying a bunch of herbs for one recipe, then tossing the rest because they spoiled, planting an herb garden might be for you. (Yes, even if you live on the top floor of an apartment building!) It's not as hard as you might think, and nothing says spring like fresh herbs outside your window.

In addition to their flavor, herbs possess healing powers that make them worth growing or buying fresh. Maybe knowing that parsley can help you detox, or that basil contains anti-inflammatory agents, will provide an extra reason to use them in your next meal.


Used frequently in Italian and Thai cooking, basil is a bold, slightly sweet herb that wakes dishes up. Its earthy, citrusy notes make it a good go-to for salad, pasta dishes, and pesto. It grows easily in pots, so for people interested in an indoor or outdoor herb garden, basil is a good gateway.

Try: Eating Well’s Caprese Salad

Healing power: An anti-inflammatory agent called eugenol abounds in fresh basil, so think of adding it to dishes when you are suffering from headaches and muscle pain.


Cilantro loses some of its zing when dried. When fresh though, this lemony herb works wonders sprinkled on — you guessed it — guac. Plus, it adds a bright, lively flavor factor to fish tacos, salads, and even smoothies.

Try: Cilantro-Mango Detox Smoothie

Healing power: Cilantro contains detoxifying essential oils and helps remove toxins from the body.


Dill is unique, and that’s what makes it lovable. It adds a pickle-y flavor that cuts fattier foods like chicken salad and salmon. It can also be a nice change to veggies: sprinkle on carrots or potatoes for a fun twist.

Try: Life’s Ambrosia ’s Dill Chicken Salad

Healing Power: Dill is a powerful diuretic, so it is good for bladder health and cleansing toxins. It has also been shown to decrease inflammation.

Image: Fotolia


Mint is bright, light, and slightly sweet, which is why it is often paired with desserts. This spring-y herb is not just a sweet-tooth’s best friend, though; it’s also great with savory dishes.

Try: Saveur’s Peas with Orange and Mint, or a sorta-healthy Thin Mint Smoothie

Healing Powers: Mint contains loads of antioxidants, and its cousin peppermint can help with upset stomachs when steeped into a tea.

Image: Fotolia


Parsley is a ubiquitous herb for a reason. It adds a delicate background note to meat, fish dishes, salads, and just about anything.

Try: Sole with Lemon-Caper-Parsley Sauce

Healing Powers: Parsley is extremely high in vitamin K, with just 10 sprigs providing up to 205 percent of your needed amount. This makes it fantastic for bone health; plus its high amounts of vitamin C is a fabulous way to reduce free radical damage, plus it’s great for menstrual and bladder health. It’s a super-herb, really.