Mediterranean diet: the complete list of spices, condiments and herbs

Hello and welcome to this sub-section of the guide to Mediterranean diet, a summary of which can be found here.

In the previous chapter, we listed the Mediterranean-inspired vegetablesThese are the ideal foods to include in your diet if you want to take control of your health.

In addition to vegetableswe have broken down plants into different food families:

  • first and foremost, vegetables as suchwhich we have already listed in the previous chapter;
  • visit spices, herbs and other condiments which we will deal with in this chapter;
  • visit fruit ;
  • visit pulses
  • cereals
  • nuts

Next, we'll look at the other protein and fat food families to choose from:

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  • good fats
  • fish and seafood
  • white meat and cheese

And finally, foods to be moderated, such as processed products and poor-quality red meat.

But let's return to the subject that interests us in this chapter: the spices, herbs and condimentsThese can be used to season and flavour recipes, but that's not all.

In this section, we'll take a look at the gustatory benefits of these plants, as well as their health benefits, so that we can adopt the reflex of using them in a holistic and global way, to give yourself pleasure by adding taste to your healthy foods, but also to do your body good. By listing these ingredients, we'll see their presumed or proven virtues in scientific literature, and in this way, we'll be able to direct ourselves more or less towards this or that spice, depending on what it brings in terms of health, and the problems we may encounter as individuals.

And that's the whole point of this and other chapters: to give meaning to food, both in terms of taste and in terms of well-being and health. If, for example, we have a tendency to digest food with difficulty, we can choose a particular spice or condiment. And if, for example, we tend to have a blood glucose then we can couple a reduction in the intake of carbohydrates with this or that spice, and why not extended periods of digestive rest.

Spices, herbs and condiments are there to support a healthy lifestyle, and it's important to rotate them, so as not to be stuck on mono-diets that would be useless if not deleterious. The aim is therefore to consume these spices intelligently, in moderation, and always by diversifying the ingredients, firstly to reap the full benefits, but also as a precaution to avoid health problems. So, don't drink the same infusion every day for several months or years, not only because you need to diversify your intake, but also as a precautionary measure. Finally, as always in this guide, it's best to quantify and moderate your portions, in a reasonable way, to avoid causing digestive or intolerance problems.

Before discussing the benefits of each of these plants, we've divided them into three main groups: spices, condiments and herbs. Here are some suggested definitions to help you distinguish between them.

Distinction between spices, condiments and herbs

The boundary between these three ingredients is sometimes porous, but they can be broadly differentiated as follows.

A spice is a vegetable that is aromatic or pungent.A spice is not necessarily hot, but can be used to season dishes (cumin, cinnamon, pepper...). A spice is not necessarily hot.

The aromais a plant substance odoriferous, which spreads a pleasant scent. The herb is therefore used to flavour dishes..

The condiment is a substance characterized by a strong flavorfor enhance the taste of food (garlic, salt, shallots, vinegar, etc.). Basically, a condiment is not characterized by its nature as a food, but by its usefulnessThis is why condiments are so useful in the kitchen. Condiments therefore contain substances from different food or plant families which, at first glance, have nothing to do with each other.

In a nutshell, these three food groups are used to seasonTo prepare a dish with ingredients, generally to give it flavour and added taste.

Nutritional value and health benefits

In addition to give taste to culinary preparations, each of these plants brings its own set of benefits. benefits for the body if consumed regularly:

  • Infection control ;
  • Reduced pain (arthritis);
  • Good blood circulation;
  • The fight against anemia;
  • Better muscle contraction;
  • Antioxidant properties;
  • Fabric care (nails, hair...) ;
  • Better digestion of other foods;
  • Preventing age-related diseases;
  • Anti-inflammatory properties;
  • Protection of key organs (liver, etc.);
  • Fighting anxiety and fatigue;
  • The fight against cardiovascular disease.

Used as seasonings, and therefore in necessarily limited quantities, these spices, condiments and herbs don't deliver all their health benefits at once. It is the regular and significant addition of these spices, herbs and other botanicals to foodstuffs that could make a small but valuable contribution to the antioxidant intake of the diet.

As we've said in this guide from the outset for other foods as well, the isolated consumption of certain ingredients, such as herbs and spices, cannot meet the body's antioxidant needs, but it's best to consume them in a complete, global, holistic way, on a regular basis and in synergy with the other foods in the "antioxidant diet".Mediterranean dietraw foods, rich in good fats (omega3 and omega9 as a priority, to be enhanced), vitamins and minerals. proteins and unrefined carbohydrates that, along with these other foods, could provide all their benefits to the body.

The taste benefits of spices, condiments and herbs

As far as culinary interest is concerned, these spices and condiments will transforming "healthy" meals into "pleasurable" mealsThis will gradually move you away from "deviations" and other "cheat meals", which are considered to be festive meals, as opposed to healthy meals, which are sometimes seen as a constraint.

In other words, these ingredients will make your daily diet food for pleasureThe result is a whole new way of eating, based on real awareness of what you're eating. And by using them, you can improve your meals, you will tend to lose more and more interest in refined, industrial foodsoften associated - wrongly - with pleasure when one has little or no culinary culture.

From then on, thanks to the mastery of these herbs, the meal will no longer be a utilitarian obligatory passage that is only supposed to nourish the organism in a purely organic way, but will become a way of life. a real moment of detachment and pleasure. And this is precisely one of the components of the Mediterranean lifestyle, without which we might not be able to reap the full benefits in terms of physical and mental health.

For the sake of completeness, here's a list of the spices, herbs and condiments generally used in the Mediterranean diet - not to say in the global diet, since these are ingredients found in different cuisines around the world - and which will enable you to improve even the most basic dishes.

As far as pairings are concerned, I've included some in this list, but for more ideas, simply search the Internet for possible pairings between spice and food. protein or vegetables you want to eat, by typing "salmon accord épices" or "poulet quelle épices" in the search bar, for example, and you'll get some ideas.

Note that in common parlance, the term "spice" also encompasses aromatics, although we'll distinguish them here for greater precision.

It's up to you to try out the different variations and, depending on your tastes, refine them, but don't hesitate to vary the pleasures as much as possible and test the results in terms of both taste and well-being. And don't overdo it either!

We'll start with spices, then move on to herbs and condiments, before concluding with a few practical tips.

The spice list for the Mediterranean diet

So let's start with spices, the plants which, as we defined at the beginning of this chapter, are used in cooking to season recipes and add flavour to dishes.


It goes well with meat, eggs or fish, but also decorates certain oriental dishes such as hummus. It is antioxidant, rich in fibers and improves intestinal transit.


With its licorice flavor, it goes well with desserts, but also with meat. It is known for its digestive properties. It acts on intestinal spasms, and helps to reduce and facilitate the expulsion of gas. A herbal tea made after a meal stimulates digestion.

Pink berries

Their slightly sweet taste goes well with raw fish, foie gras and seafood. They are anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antispasmodic.


Originating in India, this no-longer-introduced spice is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, promotes cardiovascular health and aids digestion. Ideal for fish, meat and, of course, desserts. Ginger is also considered a superfood.


Again considered a superfood, turmeric goes well with fish, poultry and vegetables, and can be sprinkled or used in creamy sauces. It is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, improves digestion and protects the liver.

Chili pepper

It enhances white meats, fish, pan-fried vegetables, eggs and just about anything else you want to spice up. It has antioxidant properties thanks to its high flavonoid and antioxidant content. vitamin C.


It is generally added to meats, fish or vegetables to spice up dishes. It is anti-inflammatory, improves digestion, and increases the production of endorphins, the hormone that provides a feeling of well-being. Pepper is an excellent antioxidant, with a beneficial effect on the liver, and, like virtually all other spices, is anti-inflammatory.


This spice, widely used in Mediterranean cuisine, is a perfect accompaniment to risottos, paella, seafood or fish, just before serving. Saffron has antioxidant and relaxing properties, and improves digestion.

It is rich in vitamins and mineralsparticularly in vitamin B6 (useful for haemoglobin, protein synthesis, metabolism of lipids and glycogen), in iron (again for hemoglobin) and in magnesiumand its many benefits. In fact, magnesium is responsible for saffron's relaxing properties.

Saffron is therefore a natural sedative, and is particularly recommended for people who want to improve their ability to fall asleep and sleep.


This garnet-colored spice, little-known in Europe, is used as a flavoring agent to add a note of acidity much appreciated in Near Eastern cuisine. In particular, it is used in the preparation of Zaatar, a spice mix containing oregano and thyme. Sumac can be sprinkled on grilled meats, poultry or fish. It can also be used in salads, such as the famous fattouche oriental salad.

Sumac has many virtues. Sumac is renowned for its digestive, febrifuge (fever-reducing) and aperitive properties. Studies conducted since the 1970s have shown that its anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-cholesterol, hepatoprotective, anti-ulcer, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory effects.

With regard to its anti-diabetic effect, studies have shown that sumac possesses strong hypoglycemic properties, allowing it to be used as an antidiabetic agent. reduce blood glucose levels and improve glucose toleranceThis is extremely useful for diabetic and pre-diabetic patients, as well as for those who wish - quite rightly - to control their blood sugar levels to optimize their figure and their health.


Cumin is famous for spicing up couscous, tagines, merguez and, of course, Indian curries. Like most of the other spices described here, cumin is a good source of vitamins and minerals, with antioxidant, digestive and diuretic properties.

To be more precise, its iron content improves oxygen transport in the blood and its magnesium content improves digestion and relaxes the muscle and nervous system.


It can accompany pot-au-feu and sauerkraut, and is used in the Middle East to season certain meats, such as beef celery chawarma. It is also used in the Maghreb, in the famous Ras el Hanout, and of course in India.

Clove is considered by European phytotherapy to be a broad-spectrum antiseptic, anti-infective and antibacterial. It is very useful against urinary tract infections such as cystitis and kidney stones. It is antifungal and antiparasitic, and aids digestion. Its aromatic compounds help combat stomach upsets, and it has a beneficial effect on toothache.

Juniper berry

Juniper is an ingredient in a number of ancient medicinal recipes handed down to us in Egyptian papyri dating back to 1550 BC.

It is a urinary antiseptic, diuretic and antidiabetic. Externally, it is anti-parasitic and healing.

The peppery, tart taste of juniper berries is a delicious addition to many dishes. This spice can be used in simmered dishes, marinades, sauces, stuffings, stews, pâtés and terrines, sausages and cabbage. Juniper berries are also used to season the famous sauerkraut.

The Egyptians used it as early as antiquity as a medicinal plant, and today it's a spice particularly used in Northern French gastronomy for pâtés, terrines and waffles.


Warm and inviting, cinnamon can literally replace added sugar in desserts such as Greek yoghurt, or in hot drinks. This spice is also a highly effective flavoring agent in the preparation of certain dishes.

It's an excellent source of antioxidants, which protect the body's cells from damage caused by free radicals. Its antioxidant action makes cinnamon a natural preventive against the development of certain cancers and other metabolic diseases associated with aging.

It's also a very good source of iron, essential for oxygen transport and the formation of red blood cells, which women are sorely lacking during their periods. Cinnamon is an excellent source of fiber, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

Last but not least, cinnamon could significantly reduce blood glucose and certain blood lipids (total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol). Cinnamon thus appears to be a promising food for diabetes control, and an ally in fat loss.

Last but not least, it's an excellent spice for digestion, and is considered by many nutritionists to be a "superfood".


A staple of Indian cuisine, where it originated, cardamom is an ancient spice that, like cloves, is also used in certain Middle Eastern marinades, such as beef chawarma.

She is diureticantisepticanti-inflammatory, aids digestion at reduces bloating and relieves heartburn.

Cardamom spread to Europe thanks to Arab traders who exported it to ancient Greece and Rome, before being used in other Mediterranean countries in medieval times, and then in Western Europe.

It contains minerals and numerous trace elements:

  • Visit calciumIt is essential for bone health, but also for other mechanisms such as muscle contraction, blood coagulation and the release of certain hormones.
  • Magnesium, for energy, sleep, the cardiac system and recovery.
  • Visit potassiumfor the heart and blood pressure.
  • Phosphorus for bones and energy
  • Iron, essential for cell oxygenation
  • Zinc, mainly for immunity and protein synthesis
  • And finally, vitamin B2 and B6for energy and hemoglobin synthesis.


It's a good source of copper (useful for immunity, red blood cell synthesis and especially collagen), iron, zinc and antioxidants. Nutmeg is anti-inflammatory and anti-infectious. It aids digestion and, thanks to its high calcium content, contributes to bone consolidation. Finally, it stimulates brain function, which is useful for memory and concentration.

It should be used sparingly, as it is a very strong spice. It can be used to flavour béchamel and accompany soups, lasagne, pasta, gratins and shepherd's pie. Like cloves and cardamom, nutmeg can be used as one of the spices in the marinade for the famous Oriental chawarma.


Present throughout the Mediterranean basin for thousands of years, coriander leaves add a delicious aroma to salads, while the seeds are perfect for vegetables or curries.

Coriander is an antioxidant thanks to the flavonoids it contains, and has digestive, aperitive (appetite-stimulating), tonic, anti-infectious and antibacterial properties.

When eaten raw, it eliminates mercury, aluminum and lead from the body in the urine.

Some people can't stand the taste of coriander, in which case we recommend replacing it with flat-leaf parsley, for a milder fragrance and, above all, the benefits of parsley.


Fennel originated in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, where it is still cultivated today. It goes well with fish, meat and vegetables. A spice with a subtly aniseed and sweet flavor, it not only flavors dishes, but also helps combat constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, bloating and aerophagia (swallowing air in the esophagus) by facilitating the evacuation of flatulence.

Highly diuretic, fennel helps the body eliminate waste, and contains antioxidant substances combined with unsaturated lipids that are beneficial to the body.

Fennel was popular with the Greeks and Romans, but was also known in ancient China, India and Egypt.


Curry is a blend of aromatic herbs and spices that changes completely depending on the dish it accompanies. It may call for a large number of different species: chili, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cardamom, cinnamon...


Like curry, it's a blend of spices and herbs that literally means "head of the grocery" in Arabic, and is used throughout North Africa.

Ras el Hanout goes very well with fish, vegetables, merguez sausages, soups (the famous "chorbas"), couscous and tajines.

There are many variations in terms of composition, and Ras el Hanout generally includes the following spices: Cardamom, Coriander, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Long pepper, Cloves, Turmeric, Ginger, Lavender, Rosebuds, Caraway...

The most sophisticated use up to thirty-seven.


The list of herbs for the Mediterranean diet

Let's move on to herbsused in cooking for flavour dishes.


Nicknamed "God's herb", dill is an aromatic plant native to the Mediterranean basin and the Near East. It is considered a medicinal plant, and is found in sacred and ancient texts such as the Bible and ancient Egyptian and Roman writings. It is also recognized in Ayurvedic treatments, the traditional Indian medicine.

Dill is a source of antioxidants, vitamin C (useful for the immune system, collagen synthesis and iron absorption) and potassium, which should not be supplemented but is useful for the cardiac system. Dill is diuretic - it increases urinary secretion, which is beneficial most of the time - and improves digestion.

It flavors fish, seafood, scrambled eggs, potatoes and poultry, but should not be cooked.


It's one of the star herbs of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine. An antioxidant, basil reduces fever and fatigue, improves digestion and soothes nausea and gastrointestinal problems. Ideally, basil should be added fresh at the time of serving, although the seeds can be used in certain recipes. Dehydrated, it may be a little less interesting.

Basil is rich in vitamin K (useful for coagulation), group B vitamins (energy, red blood cells and nervous system), and vitamin A (cell renewal, vision, etc.). In particular, it enables the body to better assimilate the vitamins and minerals contained in food, and soothes the nervous system.


Also native to the Mediterranean basin, celery is used to flavour soups, fish, salads, vegetable juices and raw starters. It is a powerful antioxidant, rich in fiber and essential micronutrients, particularly vitamins K, B6 and C. However, some people are allergic to it.


Used in Asia, chives are thought to have been discovered by the Chinese around 5,000 years ago. Ideally uncooked, chives are used to flavor cold sauces. It contains vitamins C, B2 and K, calcium (for bones), sodium (for nerve impulses and muscle contraction), phosphorus (for bones, energy and cell membranes) and iron (for red blood cells and oxygen transport).

Chives are therefore beneficial for blood circulation and vessel elasticity, and help combat premature aging, in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Eaten with other herbs, spices and vegetables in general, chives are said to have anti-cancer and general health benefits.


Chervil's aniseed flavor refreshes salads, and flavors fish or vegetable soups. Ideally uncooked. Native to Asia and the Middle East, chervil is rich in vitamins E (which we remember helps fight free radicals, cardiovascular disease and menstrual pain, and boosts immunity), B1 and B2 (useful for energy in particular), and is extremely rich in vitamin C (beneficial effects on collagen, immunity and, of course, as an antioxidant) and more. vitamin B9 (the hilarious folic acidIt also contains manganese (essential for the synthesis of cartilage, proteins, blood coagulation and nerve cell membranes), calcium and potassium.

Thanks to its vitamin and mineral content, chervil is a plant that can contribute to the growth of bones, collagen, tissues and the proper functioning of cells, the formation of blood and the maintenance of a good immune system, the absorption of iron by the body, lymphatic circulation, the protection of cells against oxidative stress, the reduction of fatigue and the maintenance of a good nervous balance. That's all there is to it.

Obviously, and we can't stress this enough, all these spices, aromatic herbs and, more generally, all these vegetables should be eaten in combination with one another, and in a variety of ways, in order to benefit from their virtues in a holistic way, but we've already said that.


It is one of the most famous medicinal plants. It has been known and used around the Mediterranean since ancient times. It acts on eczema, digestive, urinary and respiratory disorders, as well as headaches and muscle aches. It goes well with mutton, cucumber, legumes and tomatoes, and is used in Lebanese tabbouleh or Oriental fattouche salad.

Mint is a very good source of iron and manganese (oxygen, muscles, cartilage and blood).


It can be used as a seasoning, but also as a main ingredient (e.g. in Lebanese green tabbouleh). Parsley is a plant registered in the French pharmacopoeia, which means it is a plant for therapeutic use. It is rich in antioxidants (flavonoids, lutein, beta-carotene), vitamin C (for collagen and immunity), B9 and K (for cell growth, cardiovascular effects and bone health). On the mineral side, parsley is a good source of iron, calcium and manganese, useful as we've already mentioned for oxygen transport, muscle health, tissues and blood.

As a reminder, antioxidants help combat oxidative stress, which is responsible for premature aging and the onset of certain cancers. Parsley is one of the star foods of Levantine cuisine, and is highly recommended as part of an ideal diet, as recommended in this guide. It is used as a spice in Persillade, mixed with garlic.


With its spicy, subtly aniseed flavour, tarragon is a wonderful addition to chicken and certain fish dishes. Native to Central Asia, tarragon is an antioxidant, rich in vitamin K and iron, and is said to be anti-allergic, particularly in essential oil form.

In phytotherapy, it is recognized for its digestive virtues, with its ability to relieve stomach cramps. It also promotes cellular exchanges throughout the body.

It would also be useful to consume it as an infusion, as it is anti-stress and promotes sleep.


Herbs generally include parsley, tarragon, chives and chervil, all of which are as delicious as they are healthy.


It's probably the best-known flavoring in baked goods. Vanilla brings a sweet taste, and is said to aid digestion. It is said to be a good anti-stress agent, and is rich in polyphenols. It is generally found in bean, extract or powder form, but beware of the sugar content of products sold in stores.


Sage is a aromatic plant from the Mediterranean region. Widely used in the cuisine of southern Europe, it is appreciated both for its powerful taste and slightly bitter than for its medicinal virtues multiple.

It goes well with fatty meats, game and all large poultry: game, pork, roast lamb, veal, chicken, turkey or duck. The leaves are usually used, but the flowers can also be used as a culinary accompaniment to salads.

Scientific studies on animals and humans have shown sage to have very interesting virtues when consumed in sufficient quantities:

  • strong antioxidant power in animals;
  • a reduction in triglycerides in animals, i.e. body fat reserves;
  • a reduction in total and LDL cholesterol levels in humans, and not just in animals, while increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol levels;
  • an improvement in cognitive function, suggesting positive effects in the fight against Alzheimer's disease;
  • A reduction of up to 30% in blood glucose levels in moderately diabetic and non-diabetic mice;
  • Positive effects on the frequency and severity of hot flushes in menopausal women, leading some nutritionists to recommend sage infusions to menopausal women.



A little-known herb, savory is extremely useful with legumes, making them easier to digest. For example, in Germany, savory is called Bohnenkraut (literally "bean grass"), in reference to its antiflatulent properties, which are very useful when consuming legumes such as beans or chickpeas in large quantities, especially if you're not used to eating them on a regular basis.

In many of the world's cuisines, it is cooked alongside legumes. Native to the Mediterranean region, it is highly prized there for both its pretty green color and its intense, slightly peppery taste.

Scientific studies carried out on animals using plant extracts, i.e. in proportions that are necessarily more concentrated than when consumed as a seasoning, have concluded that eating sufficient quantities of fresh herbs has a significant antioxidant capacity, sometimes even higher than some fruits and vegetables, thanks in particular to the rosmarinic acid they contain, which is a phenolic acid, and therefore a polyphenol, which is a compound with strong antioxidant power - in other words, anti-aging power, to put it as simply as possible - and which we have discussed at length in this guide.

Other studies have attempted to demonstrate antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-diarrheal effects, as well as potential anti-diabetic, anti-cholesterolemic and anti-Alzheimer's effects thanks to its high antioxidant content.

However, as with most spice-related scientific studies, the quantities consumed in these studies are much higher than those in common use by the general population, since concentrated extracts are used in these studies. We must therefore remain cautious about the results, but there's no doubt that regular consumption of this type of herb can do no harm.



Thyme is a natural antiseptic, used in marinades, brines, charcuterie and game. It is a very popular aromatic in Near Eastern cuisine, and has been used for thousands of years.

It is rich in flavonoids, which are anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant and antioxidant, and therefore has an antiseptic, anti-infectious action, helping the body to fight coughs, colds and respiratory problems.

It also helps fight skin diseases, dental problems and digestive disorders.



Like thyme, rosemary is a key herb in Mediterranean cuisine. It goes very well with white meats (rabbit, veal, poultry, mutton). Ideally not cooked, although sprigs can be added to coals to flavour grilled meats and fish.

Like thyme, romaine has many benefits. In particular, it helps combat fatigue, digestive and liver disorders, respiratory and ENT infections (ear, nose and throat), and headaches.

It can also be consumed as an essential oil, and the web is full of information about the benefits of using it.



Once again, oregano is a key ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, from Italy to the Middle East. It is said to aid digestion, be antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and have a positive effect on the pancreas.

With its tannin and polyphenol content, oregano is said to relieve migraines and various symptoms associated with inflammation, such as urinary tract infections and coughs.

Aromatics can also be grouped into spice and herb mixes. Here are a few examples of well-known herb groups:

  • Bouquets garnis: these include parsley, thyme, bay leaves, etc.
  • Zaatar: literally means "thyme" in Arabic, and usually includes several spices and aromatic herbs such as sumac, oregano, savory, sesame seeds, marjoram, and sometimes coriander and cumin. It is an ingredient widely used in Lebanese cuisine.
  • Herbes de Provence: this term covers different varieties of plants such as thyme, wild thyme, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, basil, chervil, tarragon, lovage, savory, sage, laurel and fennel.
  • Ras el Hanout, already covered in the spices section.


The list of condiments in the Mediterranean diet

As we saw in the introduction, condiments are used to raise revenueto give the food more character. Not only do they have the advantage of give taste to the food we cook, but in addition, most are "superfoodsin the sense that they contain precious nutrients for the general health of individuals.

Let's take a look at a non-exhaustive list of condiments that have been used by humans since the dawn of time, and their presumed benefits for the body.


Originally from Asia, garlic has conquered the rest of the world, as much for its medicinal virtues as for its undeniable gastronomic appeal.

In ancient times, it was considered a superfood, and of course this is still the case today. It is said to have been distributed to the workers who built the Egyptian pyramids to give them strength, and later, in Arab medicine, it was recommended to treat stomach or skin problems.

Garlic is one of the bulb vegetables, and we've already listed its virtuesincluding effects :

  • lipid-lowering agents: they reduce lipids (triglycerides and/or cholesterol) circulating in the blood.
  • anticoagulants: it can therefore reduce the risk of blood clots forming
  • antihypertensive
  • chelating agents: it helps combat heavy metals and toxins
  • antioxidants: flavonoids, tocopherols and other polyphenols help slow cell ageing.
  • immunostimulant: particularly useful for fighting colds, bronchitis and other seasonal infections.
  • and anti-cancer: via the polyphenols and sulfur compounds in allicin, which prevent the proliferation of cancer cells and protect the body from certain potential carcinogens.

Garlic is an excellent source of manganese (oxygen transport, muscle health, tissues and hemoglobin), copper (hemoglobin and collagen in particular), calcium, magnesium and iron. selenium (antioxidant, improves immunity, thyroid, fertility and tissues) and phosphorus (useful for bones, energy and cell membranes).

As for vitamins, garlic contains B6 (for protein and fatty acid metabolism, neurotransmitter production, red blood cell production and immune system function) and vitamin C (for immunity, collagen and iron absorption).

Last but not least, it contains fructosans, which promote the development of good bacteria in the intestine, with extremely beneficial effects on digestion, immunity, memory and cognitive faculties, as well as weight loss.

To benefit from its positive effects, we recommend a daily intake of one to three cloves of fresh garlic, or 0.5 to 1 g of dried garlic. There's no need to overdo it, as too much garlic can cause stomach burn or abdominal cramps. On the other hand, some people have difficulty tolerating it, so we suggest taking it very gradually, in homeopathic doses, and sticking to very small doses if larger intakes cause discomfort.

It can be eaten in powdered form to enhance your dishes, or fresh, cut into small cubes and lightly cooked, or in the form of aioli, a sauce widely eaten in various Mediterranean countries.

On the subject of garlic and bad breath, the odor comes from gases released by chewing and digestion, but it eventually disappears after a few hours. To reduce the effect of bad breath, mint and parsley can be added to recipes. In fact, this is a natural part of Levantine cuisine in the western Mediterranean, where garlic-rich dishes are combined with mint and parsley, as in green tabbouleh or the various salads known in the region, from Greek salad to fattouche salad and monk's salad.

Onion and shallot

Domesticated in Asia (from the Middle East to India), the onion features in the oldest recipes from Mesopotamia, and is emblematic of Mediterranean cuisine. This bulbous vegetable has also been considered a superfood throughout culinary and dietary history.

Onions belong to the alliaceae family, which includes garlic and shallots, with which they share many virtues.

It is rich in vitamin B6, which is involved in protein and fatty acid metabolism, neurotransmitter production, red blood cell production and immune system function. It is also rich in vitamin C, as well as manganese, which is involved in a number of important metabolic processes.

Rich in vitamins and minerals, it is said to have antioxidant properties. It is said to benefit the cardiovascular system, and to be an anti-cancer food thanks to its polyphenols, notably quercetin, also found in tea and apples in interesting proportions. Shallots have similar virtues.

Salt (or sodium chloride)

We had seen the properties of salt in the chapter devoted to itand its value in a purely ketogenic diet. It has been used since the dawn of time as a flavor enhancer, but also as a natural preservative. The authorities recommend that it be consumed in moderation, depending on one's eating habits and state of health.

Salt is a hotly debated topic. Some believe it should be reduced so as not to increase the risk of hypertension, heart disease or diabetes, while others suggest increasing salt intake, arguing that health problems are not caused by a diet rich in salt, but rather by a diet rich in processed products, which are themselves already rich in salt.

In practice, as part of a healthy lifestyle, salting your dishes in moderation, giving preference to quality salts such as Guérande or Himalayan salt, seems to be a good compromise, while raising your intake substantially for those who practice diets very low in carbohydrates, sugars and starchy foods and cereals in general, and/or for those who practice high-intensity sports, i.e. resistance sports such as weight training or cardio sports.

As part of a healthy lifestyle, with a low-to-moderate carbohydrate diet and active lifestyle, you can enjoy the benefits of sodium, as it is involved in many of the body's processes:

  • Involved in nerve impulse transmission
  • It acts on blood pressure
  • It regulates fluid exchange in the body, and helps maintain cellular and tissue osmotic physiological mechanisms.

Natural salt, unlike refined table salt, retains minerals such as iodine and magnesium. Quality salts could therefore act on immunity, combat episodes of depression, improve blood circulation and digestion, reduce inflammation and cramps, and even help stabilize blood sugar levels.

It's a natural ingredient essential to life, and its reputation has been tarnished over the years, not least because of the salt content of processed products, and poor-quality refined salts, stripped of their natural minerals and the virtues they provide.


Native to the Mediterranean basin and Asia, the turnip is a vegetable with numerous benefits. It improves intestinal transit, fights oxidative stress and is rich in vitamins and minerals essential to the body.

Its high potassium content is particularly useful for digestion and blood pH balance. It's also a source of magnesium, the merits of which are extolled time and again in this guide, not only for recovery but also for enzymatic action, dental health and the immune system. It is also rich in copper, necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen, and a source of vitamin C, which contributes to bone and tissue health and helps fight infection.

The pink turnip is a key condiment in Levantine cuisine, particularly for adding an acidic flavor to meat sandwiches, falafels and street food. It is generally marinated in vinegar. In Germany, it is cooked like sauerkraut with juniper berries and sausage.


Used as a vegetable most of the time, but also as a spice (it's in the same family as onions and garlic), it spices up soups and flavors salads. It's yet another source of antioxidants, vitamin C (for immunity, collagen, the nervous system and better iron absorption), vitamins B6 and B9 (which have a positive effect on energy, the nervous system, protein synthesis, red blood cell formation and fatigue reduction), potassium (which is welcome for rebalancing the sodium/potassium balance), and leeks may therefore have a protective effect against certain cancers and contribute to better overall health.


Preserved in vinegar to retain their aroma, capers are rich in minerals, vitamins and trace elements. They provide the body with vitamin A (for skin and vision), group B vitamins (involved in many roles, such as energy production, proper functioning of the nervous system, protein synthesis, cell regeneration, etc....), vitamin C, calcium (for bone, muscle and heart health), magnesium (for muscle and nerve recovery, as well as protein synthesis in particular), potassium (for heart function) and flavonoids, giving them antioxidant properties. Its consumption may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.


The acidity of lemon juice flavors meats and fish, while the zest is often used in cooking. Native to Asia, lemons are low-carbohydrate fruits with anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious, antibacterial and antiviral properties, thanks in particular to the polyphenols they contain, such as flavonoids, nobiletin and limonoids.

These polyphenols are antioxidants, and according to some studies, they can slow tumor growth or induce apoptosis in neuroblastic cancer cells.

According to certain studies, the polyphenols contained in lemons could prevent or delay certain cancers in animals, thanks to their synergistic action.

Finally, lemons are obviously rich in fiber, mainly pectin, which in small amounts helps to lower blood cholesterol - LDL in particular - and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Not only is lemon a delicious ingredient for seasoning recipes, it's also a health ally. Several studies have shown that consuming one to four servings of citrus fruits a week is linked to the prevention of certain types of cancer, such as cancer of the oesophagus, stomach, colon, mouth and pharynx, especially if this habit is combined with the consumption of other ingredients rich in fibre and polyphenols, such as green tea.


An emblematic fruit of Mediterranean cuisine, olives are an excellent source of antioxidants, and are thought to help combat hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

The olive is very interesting for its richness in vitamin EIt also contains vitamin K1, which contributes to healthy blood coagulation. This fruit is also appreciated for its richness in iron, which stimulates the immune system, and selenium. Olives also contain vitamins A and E, involved in eye and skin health.

It is said to be anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-cancerous. Olive monounsaturated fatty acids are associated with abdominal fat loss, improved insulin sensitivity and better digestion. It's one of the "fruit vegetables" of the Mediterranean diet, and low in carbohydrates.

It can be eaten as a condiment, or in olive oil, but obviously in reasonable proportions, since it's a high-calorie, high-salt fruit. Note that black olives have higher nutritional values than green olives, and contain more iron, selenium and magnesium.


Vinegar is obtained by fermenting a sugar (e.g. from grapes or apples) into alcohol, then fermenting this alcohol (wine or cider) into vinegar, under the effect of a fungus.

It has been used for centuries to preserve food, for seasonings and marinades, and also for its medicinal properties.

Vinegar contains around 90% of water and 5 to 8% of acetic acid, and it's this acetic acid that contains vinegar's health benefits. Cider vinegar, for example, is said to combine over 30 essential elements: minerals (calcium, iron, fluorine, magnesium, phosphorus and especially potassium, which plays a major role in acid-base balance), vitamins A , B, C and antioxidants, all of which are listed here.

Recently, cider vinegar has received a lot of media attention for its effects on blood sugar regulation, and therefore weight. The addition of two teaspoons to a dish or before a sweet dessert is said to lower the insulin peak and thus blood sugar levels. It is also useful for the recovery of athletes, and against various infections.

However, some naturopaths suggest not abusing itThis is because the acidity of cider vinegar - useful for digestion in the stomach - could replace the acidity of our own saliva, preventing it from doing its job properly and allowing certain anti-nutrients to pass into the intestines.

Conclusion: spices in practice

Pragmatically speaking, as we said at the outset, the Mediterranean diet is lived holistically, from the lifestyle to the plate, via the way the plate is eaten and the diversity that can be found on the plate.

So, on the specific point of natural flavor enhancers, the epicurean magic lies in reveling in the different flavors that these flavor enhancers provide, in place of those to which we may have been accustomed in the past, usually via an excess of salt, lots of sour cream, ketchup, soy sauce, glutamate, viandox, and other sauces often sweetened and containing chemical and industrial components.

Spices, condiments and aromatics are ultimately there to take the palate back to flavors that may be less obvious, less addictive at times, but much more subtle, although you can have a lot of fun with chili, pepper, Guérande salt or other Indian, Asian or even Oriental spices such as the famous Zaatar. What's more, these spices are mostly natural, and often quite beneficial.

Finally, with experience, the palate gains in sensitivity, and much as classical music is opposed to the "tube" or auteur cinema to the "popcorn" film, it's a question of going in search of flavors, of reconnecting with natural tastes not necessarily obvious at first, because subtlety is sometimes wrongly confused with blandness, so much so have our taste buds been able to settle on extremely caricatured flavors. In the food industry, this is what is sought to sell a product: to make it addictive, by playing on associations of tastes that are sometimes very characterful. This is achieved, for example, by using sweet and salty, fat (not necessarily the right kind, and especially when mixed with sugar), very salty, and also hydrogenated products stuffed with trans-fatty acids, as we mentioned in the chapter on lipids.

But let's just say that by reintroducing these natural spices into our dishes, even the simplest ones, and even without being a great cook, we can reap the health benefits of these plants while relearning to love simple ingredients.

If you'd like to find out which spices go well with which recipes, simply do a little research on the Internet: which spice goes with which oven-roasted chicken, for example? And for the more spontaneous, you can simply test this or that spice at random in your omelette, salad, fish and vegetables or other healthy dish, and you'll find that as long as you go about it with subtlety and moderation, the probability of it not being good is close to zero.

So that's it for this great chapter dedicated to aromatics, and I'll see you soon for the rest of all you need to know about the Mediterranean dietin the next chapter...

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