Spices and herbs have been in use for centuries both for culinary and medicinal purposes. Spices not only enhance the flavours, aroma, and colour of food and beverages, but they can also protect from acute and chronic diseases. More Americans and Euro people’s are considering the use of spices and herbs for medicinal and therapeutic / remedy use, especially for various chronic conditions. There is now ample evidence that spices and herbs possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumorigenic, anticarcinogenic, and glucose- and cholesterol-lowering activities as well as properties that affect cognition and mood. Research over the past decade has reported on the diverse range of health properties that they possess via their bioactive constituents, including sulfuric-containing compounds, tannins, alkaloids, phenolic diterpenes, and vitamins, especially flavonoids and polyphenols. Spices and herbs such as clove, rosemary, sage, oregano, and cinnamon are excellent sources of antioxidants with their high content of phenolic compounds. It is evident that frequent consumption of spicy foods was also linked to a lower risk of death from cancer and ischemic heart and respiratory system diseases. However, the actual role of spices and herbs in the maintenance of health, specifically with regards to protecting against the development of chronic, noncommunicable diseases, is currently unclear. This review highlights potential health benefits of commonly used spices and herbs such as chili pepper, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, turmeric, fenugreek, rosemary, and garlic. Herbs and spices have a traditional history of use, with strong roles in cultural heritage, and in the appreciation of food and its links to health. Demonstrating the benefits of foods by scientific means remains a challenge, particularly when compared with standards applied for assessing pharmaceutical agents. Pharmaceuticals are small-molecular-weight compounds consumed in a purified and concentrated form. Food is eaten in combinations, in relatively large, unmeasured quantities under highly socialised conditions. The real challenge lies not in proving whether foods, such as herbs and spices, have health benefits, but in defining what these benefits are and developing the methods to expose them by scientific means. The place of herbs and spices in the diet needs to be considered in reviewing health benefits. This includes definitions of the food category and the way in which benefits might be viewed, and therefore researched. Research may focus on identifying bioactive substances in herbs and spices, or on their properties as a whole food, and / or be set in the context of a dietary cuisine. The antioxidant properties of herbs and spices are of particular interest in view of the impact of oxidative modification of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the development of atherosclerosis. There is level III-3 evidence (National Health and Medical Research Council [NHMRC] levels of evidence) that consuming a half to one clove of garlic (or equivalent) daily may have a cholesterol-lowering effect of up to 9%. There is level III-1 evidence that 7.2 g of aged garlic extract has been associated with anticlotting (in-vivo studies), as well as modest reductions in blood pressure (an approximate 5.5% decrease in systolic blood pressure). Research on the effects of herbs and spices on mental health should distinguish between cognitive decline associated with ageing and the acute effects of psychological and cognitive function. There is level I and II evidence for the effect of some herbal supplements on psychological and cognitive function. There is very limited scientific evidence for the effects of herbs and spices on type 2 diabetes mellitus, with the best evidence being available for the effect of ginseng on glycaemia. With increasing interest in alternatives to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents in the management of chronic inflammation, research is emerging on the use of food extracts. With time, we can expect to see a greater body of scientific evidence supporting the benefits of herbs and spices in the overall maintenance of health and protection from disease.