I always have enjoyed herbal flavours when it comes to cooking. Vivid herbs not only look great on the plate and add much-needed colour and flavour all year round but also provide benefits that with regular consumption develop over time, in many cases putting them beyond the scope of clinical trials.
Why you should eat more herbs?
In my kitchen I aim to use at lease one herb in each meal I prepare. It might sound challenging if you are not used to this idea but it’s really matters of using small amount with whatever you are preparing. They are quite powerful and little goes a long way!
For centuries people believed in complex and effective healing power of those aromatic plants and I’m definitely in favour of trying herbal approach to treat minor body ailments before jumping onto chemical solutions. Although I do not have much knowledge when it comes to Herbalism the real opportunity I do not want to miss is prevention! By eating balanced and varied diet and using as many herbs as possible in your food and drink you are giving yourself the best chance of not having to deal with an illness later on. Multiple benefits of each herb slowly add layers of goodness to form concrete immunity and healthy guts.
Let’s have a look at 6 common herbs available in shops all year round. But, before we start I do want to encourage you to go step further and consider growing your own. Herbs are inexpensive and wide variety available in garden centers in all different sizes. You can also use seeds and have a go at growing your own from scratch if you have enough patients! By having them in pots indoors you have access to this powerhouse of vitamins all year round. Not only you benefit from their slowly releasing essential oils but also you are more likely to use them when they are in your view. Window sill or pots anywhere in your home with decent amount of light will work just fine. If you have balcony or a garden available you can plant them there and enjoy when needed. Woody herbs such us rosemary or thyme are robust so will grow outside just fine all year round however basil or mint will not survive the winter in your garden so make sure you bring them in to enjoy during cold months.
This wonderful aromatic herb is considered as antidepressant and some research has shown that consumption improves brain functions and helps regulate hormones. Basil essential oils including eugenol, linalool, and citronellol aid fighting inflammation such as arthritis as well as prevent heart disease and bowel issues. Basil has antibacterial properties and can be used when you with indigestion issues.
Oregano is a powerful herb. It can inactivate norovirus (infection that can cause nausea and diarrhea with stomach pain) and may inactivate 90% of the herpes simplex virus within one hour! Pretty amazing, right?! On the top of that Oregano can help treat yeast infection such us Candida (most common yeast infection worldwide). For those sorts of conditions oil extract would be most appropriate. Those are widely available in heath shops.
Using fresh oregano however has array of other benefits. It improves your gut health and reduces inflammation. Add some fresh oregano to your bath for muscle relaxation and spasms prevention.
Parsley must be one of my favorite herbs. Super versatile and widely available. This aromatic herb is packed with vitamins K, C and A and flavonoids plus carotenoids, powerful antioxidants. In 30g (1/2 cup) of parsley you get over 500% vitamin K which is very important in bone health. Lutein, beta carotene, and zeaxanthin (vitamin A crew) promote healthy vision protecting cornea, protective eye membrane.
Apigenin is a natural chemical found in parsley that has been shown to reduce tumour size in an aggressive breast cancer. That’s not all. Studies have shown that eating parsley can be beneficial in decreasing insulin resistance.
Iron, calcium and vitamin B6 are some compounds of rosemary that make this fantastic herb anti – inflammatory, helping improve blood circulation and boosts immunity.
Some research suggests that rosemary aroma improves concentration, speed, performance and help manage our mood. Through that it helps to protect us from brain damages and diseases such us Alzheimer’s.
This evergreen, aromatic herb is super versatile and can be used in for consumption as well as in making homemade cosmetics, particularly powerful when it comes to strengthening your hair and keeping you scalp healthy.
It’s antibacterial properties are making this herb great addition to DIY cleaning products.
Sage has been used in medicine for centuries and must be one of the most popular among dentists. It can help target pain and inflammation, helps oral healing process as well as improves breath odour.
Sage also has a reputation of improving nausea in pregnancy and helps with indigestion.
Herb’s carnosol and carnosic acid can aid treatment of sun- related skin damage and other inflammatory skin problems. Consuming sage positively affects our brain and nervous system.
This ever green is known for contain an oil with the active ingredient cineole, which reduces inflammation and eases discomfort related to sinus infections. This aromatic leaves contain polyphenols,powerful antioxidants that helps with glucose and cholesterol management in people with diabetes. In addition, 2015 study found bay leaf was able to reduce the amount of urease in your body, an enzyme that can cause several gastric disorders, including kidney stones. Top tip: keep a bay leaf in your kitchen cupboard to stop bugs getting into your food!
Can you use dried herbs instead? Yes, of course you can. They will be less aromatic but will still add fair amount of flavour to your favorite dishes. To get the maximum health benefits, opt for fresh herbs. Heat does decrease some of their goodness so where possible enjoy them uncooked and as many in variety as available to you. Bon Appetite!