We use herbs and spices for the flavor they add to our meals and drinks. The flavor comes from the variety of chemicals in them. The same chemicals, besides pleasing the taste buds, act as antioxidants. Herbs and spices are among the foods stuffs with the highest diversity and amount of antioxidants.

The antioxidants in herbs and spices are associated with health benefits including reducing age related disease disorders.

Scientists in Norway analyzed antioxidant capacity of more than 3100 food stuffs collected from around the world. They created a database of the antioxidant content in the food stuffs. The advantage of this project is that they used the same FRAP method to measure the antioxidant capacity fo the food stuffs, which allows comparison between food stuffs for their antioxidants.

Here we present to you the antioxidant content of some common herbs and spices. Many of the herbs and spices were evaluated using several samples. And the antioxidant content varies from sample to sample for the same herb or spice. There fore, you will see wide range of antioxidant level for an herb or a spice. The herbs and spices are ordered from high to low, based on the maximum antioxidant capacity measured in a sample for an herb or spice. Cloves have the highest of antioxidant content of all the sampled herbs and spices.  Next high antioxidant sources are peppermint, wild marjoram, cinnamon.

Antioxidants in Herbs and Spices


Herbs and SpicesAntioxidant Content (mmol/100 g)
Clove, dried, whole, ground 125.6 - 465.3
Peppermint, leaves, dried 160.8
Wild marjoram, leaves, dried 142.9
Green mint, leaves, dried 142.6
Cinnamon, dried ground 17.7 - 139.9
Allspice, dried ground 99 - 102
Oregano, dried 21.4 - 96.6
Sweet marjoram, leaves, dried 92.3
Lemon thyme, leaves and flower, dried 92.2
St. John’s wort, flower and leaves, dried 72.2
Mint, dried 72
Rosemary, dried 24.3 - 66.9
Thyme, dried 42.0 - 63.8
Stevia rebaudiana, dried leaves 63.6
Saffron, dried ground 23.8 - 61.7
Sage, dried 34.9 - 58.8
Perforate St. John’s wort, flower and leaves, dried 54.4
Nutmeg, dried 15.8 - 43.5
Estragon, dried 13.6 - 43.3
Summac, dried ground 42.4
Cinnamon, bark, whole 32.6 - 40.1
Hops, leaves, dried 35.3
Basil, dried 9.9 - 31.0
Bay leaves, dried 24.0 - 31.0
Dill, dried 15.9 - 24.5
Ginger, dried ground 21.1 - 24.4
Fennel, leaves, dried 18.9
Chervil, dried 17.7
Celery, leaves, dried 16.9
Turmeric, dried ground 10.3 - 15.7
Curry, powder 10.0 - 14.9
Chili, whole, dried 1.4 - 12.2
Cumin, dried ground 6.8 - 11.9
Star anise, dried 11.3
Chives, chopped, dried 2.6 - 11.1
Mustard powder 10.3 - 10.4
Parsley, dried 3.6 - 10.1
Piri-piri, dried 6.5 - 9.4
Lemon thyme, leaves, dried 9.2
Pepper, black, dried ground 4.3 - 8.7
Jalapeño pepper, dried 8.3
Celery seeds, whole 8.2
Cayenne pepper, dried ground 4.2 - 5.9
Paprika (powder), dried ground 5.6 - 5.9
Fennel, whole seeds, dried 5.8
Pepper, white, dried ground 3.5 - 5.0
Coriander, seeds, green, dried 3.5
Caraway seeds, dried 3.4
Dill, seeds 3.4
Coriander, leaves, dried 2.1 - 2.8
Liquorice, sweet-root, root and rhizome 2.7
Cardamom, dried ground 1.7 - 2.4
Fenugreek, seeds 2.1
Garlic, dried ground 0.8 - 2.1
Cardamom seeds, dried 0.5 - 1


Paur I, Carlsen MH, Halvorsen BL, et al. Antioxidants in Herbs and Spices: Roles in Oxidative Stress and Redox Signaling. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 2.

Carlsen M.H, Halvorsen B.L, Holte K, Bøhn S.K, Dragland S, Sampson L, Willey C, Senoo H, Umezono Y, Sanada C, Barikmo I, Berhe N, Willett W.C, Phillips K.M, Jacobs D.R Jr., Blomhoff R. The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide. Nutr J. 2010 Jan 22;9:3.