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Spice Up Your Life: 11 Anti-Aging Herbs and Spices for Longevity

Spice Up Your Life: 11 Anti-Aging Herbs and Spices for Longevity

Not only do they add flavor, color, and welcomed aromas, but herbs and spices also pack an antioxidant punch and benefit health and longevity in many ways. While they don’t contain much in the way of macronutrients like protein or healthy fats, herbs and spices are loaded with health-supporting compounds, ranging from curcumin in turmeric to carnosic acid in rosemary to allicin in garlic. Due to these antioxidant-rich compounds, herbs and spices can help you live longer by fighting oxidative stress and supporting healthier inflammatory responses.

Top 11 Anti-Aging Herbs and Spices for Health and Longevity

Although some of the “herbs” on this list are technically roots or vegetables (like ginger, turmeric, and garlic), we included them due to their outstanding health benefits and spice-like usage.

The herbs and spices on this list are particularly rich in polyphenols and phytochemicals—bioactive compounds that act as antioxidants and support healthier inflammatory responses. Plant compounds are known to reduce oxidative stress and the buildup of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are critical contributors to accelerated aging.

Phytochemicals also act on other aging-related pathways, including helping with DNA repair and fighting cellular senescence—a buildup of cells that have stopped growing and dividing but remain in the body, causing inflammatory damage to neighboring cells and tissues.

1. Cinnamon

One of the most well-known spices used culinarily worldwide, cinnamon imparts more than just a warming, sweet flavor—it also has many health benefits, including managing blood sugar and inflammatory pathways and supporting cardiovascular health. 

As dysregulated glucose metabolism becomes increasingly prevalent with older age, adding cinnamon to your diet can be an easy way to manage it and support metabolic health.

Research has also concluded that cinnamon can lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, scavenge for damaging free radicals, and fight the accumulation of harmful tau proteins in the brain. These benefits are likely due to cinnamon’s ability to fight oxidative stress, as the spice is rich in polyphenolic and antioxidant compounds like cinnamaldehyde, procyanidins, rutin, quercetin, and catechins.

It’s important to note that the majority of these health benefits are found in Ceylon cinnamon (rather than Cassia cinnamon, the less expensive version you commonly find at the grocery store). Also known as “true cinnamon,” this type that comes from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree is pricier, has a more delicate flavor, and has more beneficial compounds.


2. Ginger

Native to Southeast Asia, ginger is actually a flowering plant, but its root, also known as the rhizome, is the most commonly consumed part of ginger. Although there are hundreds of bioactive compounds in ginger, the most prominent are the phenolic gingerols, which include 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol, and 10-gingerol. Other beneficial compounds include shogaols, paradols, and zingerone. 

Research has found that compounds in ginger can kill off senescent cells, a leading contributor to aging and age-related disorders. Another roundworm study showed that 6-gingerol extended the worms’ lifespan by 20% (an average of 12.5 days for control worms, compared to 15 days for ginger-supplemented worms). Ginger also increased antioxidant enzyme activity and provided greater resistance to stressful conditions.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary contains beneficial compounds like carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid, which exhibit potent antioxidant activity. The herb is also commonly added as a natural preservative to various foods, as it has strong antimicrobial properties.

Some studies suggest that rosemary may positively affect cognitive function, memory, and alertness. In research with animals, rosmarinic acid was found to improve motor impairments, learning, and spatial memory loss in rats with brain injuries. This rosemary compound is thought to benefit cognitive function by improving remyelination in the corpus callosum—the brain region connecting the left and right cerebral hemispheres.

4. Parsley

Packed with vitamins and antioxidants, parsley may support heart health, reduce inflammation, and strengthen bones. One prominent compound in parsley is apigenin​​, which is linked to healthy mood, brain function, blood sugar support, and antioxidant activity. 

Parsley also contains many micronutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, folate, and potassium. In addition to apigenin, you’ll also find flavonoids and carotenoids in parsley, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which are associated with vision and immune health.

5. Cilantro

Whether or not you think cilantro tastes like soap, the health benefits of this herb are undeniable. While cilantro does not contain as many antioxidants as other herbs, it does provide antimicrobial properties and may help our detoxification pathways. This is because cilantro is thought to have chelating properties, which may help remove heavy metals like mercury from the body.

Plus, researchers concluded in a systematic review that cilantro is significantly associated with reduced blood glucose and lipids, better insulin sensitivity, and lower body weight.

6. Oregano

Containing compounds like rosmarinic acid, thymol, and carvacrol, oregano exhibits potent antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. This herb has traditionally been used to help with digestion, alleviating symptoms like bloating and gas. When it comes to longevity, oregano may lengthen healthspan by supporting a healthier immune system and inflammatory pathways.

7. Turmeric

Turmeric is rich in curcumin, the primary bioactive compound of the root that provides its characteristically bright yellow hue—in addition to plenty of antioxidant activity. 

One of curcumin’s most well-known health benefits is its ability to reduce the activity of pro-inflammatory compounds, including downregulating harmful molecules called cytokines, such as TNF-alpha, interleukins 1 and 12 (IL-1 and IL-12), and NF-kB—all of which are associated with accelerated aging.

Other mechanisms behind curcumin’s anti-aging properties include its effects on increasing sirtuin activity and autophagy while slowing cellular senescence. Dysfunction in these three pathways is associated with accelerated aging, and curcumin may be able to turn them in the right direction.

In a recent study with the C. elegans roundworm—a commonly used animal model for longevity research—a moderate dose of curcumin extended their lifespan by 2.9 days. For comparison, the control group lived an average of 14.4 days, while the moderate curcumin group lived for 17.3 days. Notably, the highest doses of curcumin did not lead to significantly longer lifespans, suggesting that more is not always better.

turmeric for anti-aging and longevity

8. Garlic

Garlic is rich in beneficial organosulfur compounds—especially allicin, an antioxidant that has been studied for its role in preserving cognitive and immune function with age. In animals, chronic garlic consumption enhances memory function and brain serotonin levels, which are known to support cognitive performance. 

Aged garlic extract may be particularly beneficial for brain health. Made by soaking garlic in ethanol for months, then filtering and concentrating it, aged garlic extract contains concentrated versions of the bioactive compounds in garlic, like allicin, S-allyl-L-cysteine, di-allyl-disulfide, and other flavonoids. 

Research shows that aged garlic extract lowers blood pressure in adults, and preclinical studies have found aged garlic extract to reduce oxidative stress and neuronal loss while improving neuronal connections and cognitive function. Garlic is also linked to immune, cardiovascular, liver, and cellular health.

9. Basil

Like the other herbs on this list, basil contains antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols—but it is also a good source of vitamins A, K, and C and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Specifically, basil contains the flavonoids orientin, rosmarinic acid, ellagic acid, catechin, and vicenin, which have been found to protect cells from oxidative damage. Basil may also support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure, likely due to the compound eugenol.

10. Thyme

Thyme contains vitamins A and C, minerals iron, manganese, and calcium, and antioxidant compounds like thymol and carvacrol. Thyme uniquely supports respiratory health by acting as an expectorant (helping to expel mucus) and calming inflammation in the respiratory muscles. Thymol and carvacrol also have been found to support the immune system by fighting off harmful pathogens.

11. Sage

Lastly, sage contains beneficial compounds like rosmarinic acid, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. Some studies suggest that sage may have cognitive benefits, including supporting memory in research with animals.

The brain-boosting mechanisms of sage are thought to be related to its effects on oxidative stress, inflammation, and the activity of neurotrophins—growth factors like BDNF that regulate neural survival, development, function, and plasticity. Plus, sage has been shown to reduce amyloid-β accumulation in mice—a neurotoxic protein linked to neurodegenerative conditions.

Key Takeaways

Herbs and spices have been used culinarily and therapeutically for thousands of years—and the benefits are not unfounded. Some prominent ones to add to your spice rack to support health and longevity include cinnamon, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, oregano, basil, thyme, and sage. And although they aren’t technically herbs or spices, there are also myriad health—and taste—benefits of ginger, garlic, and turmeric.


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