The dried unripe berry of the Jamaican Pimenta dioica tree
Taste traits: A sweet mix of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg
Health powers: Blocks glycation, which is connected to aging.
How to use it: Mix allspice into lean ground beef to punch up plain hamburgers and meat loaf.
The seed of the Middle Eastern Pimpinella anisum plant
Taste traits: Strong licorice notes
Health powers: Aids in digestion and stamps out date-killing bad breath.
How to use it: Sprinkle ground aniseed into soups, curries, and stews. Heat some whole seeds with honey in a skillet, then drizzle over yogurt.
Ground from the seeds of a tropical plant originally from India
Taste traits: Slightly sweet and very aromatic with lemony citrus notes
Health powers: Its bioactive ingredient, cineole, may lessen asthma symptoms by reducing inflammation.
How to use it: Remove from pod, grind, and sprinkle on fruit salad or oatmeal.
Ground dried cayenne chili pepper
Taste traits: Fiery and slightly smoky
Health powers: Capsaicin, a phytochemical, improves insulin sensitivity, which lowers diabetes risk.
How to use it: Dash cayenne into chocolate recipes, hummus, scrambled eggs, and rice, or sprinkle it over steamed shelled edamame.
Various types of ground dried chilies mixed with other spices such as garlic and cumin
Taste traits: Earthy, with heat levels that can range from tame to “volcano”
Health powers: Curbs appetite and reduces calorie intake.
How to use it: Spritz over plain popcorn with butter-flavored spray.
A blend of peppercorns, cloves, fennel, star anise, and cinnamon
Taste traits: Combines sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, and salty
Health powers: Teeming with antioxidants that fight disease.
How to use it: Simmer any protein in a sauce of vegetable broth, sesame oil, soy sauce, and Chinese five-spice.
Dried inner bark of an evergreen tree found in India and Sri Lanka
Taste traits: Mildly sweet with heat
Health powers: The antioxidants found in cinnamon keep blood sugar and energy levels on an even keel.
How to use it: Drizzle some flax oil and honey on whole-grain toast, then sprinkle cinnamon on top.
The dried seeds of the same plant that produces the cilantro herb
Taste traits: Mild with lemony notes
Health powers: May have sedative effects that ease anxiety and insomnia.
How to use it: Add whole coriander seeds to chicken casseroles, or try the powder in a fruit crumble, beef stew, or a spicy Indian curry.
The fruits of a parsleylike plant
Taste traits: An earthy, nutty flavor with a peppery kick
Health powers: Used to improve digestion and contains more energy-boosting iron than other spices.
How to use it: Dust salmon and lamb with it. Add cumin seeds to water when steaming or boiling root vegetables.
A mix of turmeric, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, and coriander
Taste traits: From sweet to hot
Health powers: Antioxidants in curry may combat heart disease by reducing fat buildup in arteries.
How to use it: Jazz up egg or tuna salad, or steam mussels in a mixture of curry powder and coconut milk.
The dried seeds of the Mediterranean fennel plant
Taste traits: Licorice-like flavor
Health powers: Chew on a few to freshen up your breath and help relieve bloating after a pig-out.
How to use it: Whisk with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and Dijon mustard; drizzle over salad.
Typically cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper
Taste traits: Smoky with slight heat
Health powers: A multifaceted antioxidant punch from four spices.
How to use it: Sprinkle it over corn on the cob or popcorn, or roast chickpeas at 400°F for 30 minutes and toss with this spice and a dash of sea salt.
Ground dried gingerroot
Taste traits: Tangy and warm
Health powers: Its anti-inflammatory compounds can tame postexercise muscle pain.
How to use it: Combine with honey, then heat in a saucepan to make a glaze for carrots and other root veggies, or stir into green tea.
Seeds of a cruciferous-family plant
Taste traits: Mild to sinus clearing. Yellow mustard seeds are less fiery than their brown or black counterparts.
Health powers: High in selenium, which may protect against skin cancer.
How to use it: Toast mustard seeds until they pop, then add to cooked red cabbage or a curry dish.
The dried seeds of an apricot-like fruit indigenous to tropical areas
Taste traits: Sweet and vibrant
Health powers: Contains myristicin, a compound that helps fight infection.
How to use it: Nutmeg is a great secret ingredient in recipes for rice, meatballs, or cream soups, as well as cooked spinach, broccoli, or squash.
Ground from mild dried peppers
Taste traits: From bittersweet and warm to smoky and hot
Health powers: Brimming with vitamin A, which aids vision, bone growth, and immunity.
How to use it: Garnish shrimp, roasted nuts, or eggs. Sprinkle smoked paprika over a grilled cheese sandwich.
The threads of the saffron crocus, from the lily family
Taste traits: The Rolls-Royce of spices is slightly bitter. Avoid yellow threads.
Health powers: One study found that saffron may ease PMS symptoms.
How to use it: Simmer a pinch of saffron with chicken broth and ladle over cooked whitefish or shellfish.
Dried star-shaped fruit of a small Asian tree. Not related to aniseed.
Taste traits: Strong, very sweet, with hints of licorice
Health powers: It contains anethole, an oil with possible antivirus abilities.
How to use it: Add it whole to flavor tea, braising liquid, soup, or a marinade. Or grind it and use in a meat rub.
The dried root of a tropical plant
Taste traits: Woody and bitter
Health powers: Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, may fight Buddha belly by halting fat cells.
How to use it: Add a few dashes to egg dishes or the cooking water when making a pot of quinoa or rice.
The beans of a fruit-bearing orchid
Taste traits: Rich and smooth
Health powers: Vanillin, vanilla’s active component, has been shown to help kill cancer cells.
How to use it: Whole beans add flavor to marinades or chili. Or bury a split vanilla bean in sugar for two days, then sprinkle the infused sugar over berries.