6 Common Herbs and Why You Should Eat Them (Hint: They Don’t Just Taste Good). Herbs кредит
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Язвы (двенадцатиперстной кишки или желудка)
Health Benefits of Herbs & Spices
To improve the overall health of the body, herbs and spices have been playing a major role for decades. They help in the faster healing of wounds, act as nutritional supplements and also deliver a host of benefits. Herbs strengthen the immune system, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, have anti-inflammatory properties, prevent Alzheimer’s diseases as well as various types of cancer.
Herbs eliminate nutritional deficiencies and thus restore the correct functioning of the body. They rectify various problems rather than suppressing them. It is also said that herbs nourish every part of the body with their vitamin and mineral content. In short, our body needs certain essential dietary nutrients to meet the everyday demands of life and herbs provide us with most of the necessary components for a healthy life.
Herbs are normally used as flavoring additives to culinary dishes. Along with that, they are now an integral part of various medicinal practices in most countries.
Many herbal extracts like those derived from mint, licorice, fenugreek, ginkgo, and aloe vera are used in medicines. The health benefits of herbs vary with their type. For example, ‘artichoke’ cures different kinds of digestive problems, whereas ‘American ginseng’ works as a health tonic and ‘rosemary’ promotes healthy brain function. Almost all herbs have some health benefits and you can consume them after the recommendation of a medical practitioner.
What Are Herbs?
Plants that are prized for their scent, flavor, medicinal benefits or other assets are known as ‘herbs’. Herbs are usually used in foods, for making medicines, for pest control, and also for spiritual purposes. Since ancient times, the culinary and medicinal values of different herbs have been appreciated by almost every part of the world and among different cultures. They can be classified into innumerable categories depending on their scientific family and genus. But in this article, we will discuss two popular categories, namely Chinese herbs, and medicinal herbs.
Chinese Herbs: In China, the innumerable health benefits of herbs have been praised for centuries in their well respected medicinal systems. In fact, they were considered to be the most powerful treatment method in ancient times and many people from different countries relied on Chinese herbs alone to cure many diseases. In those days, herbs were often associated with miracles and magic. Chinese herbal medicine dates back to over thousands of years to approximately the rule of the Han dynasty. According to this system, Chinese herbs can be categorized into its five main tastes. Spicy herbs treat cold and respiratory problems effectively and also improve blood circulation; while sweet herbs improve the functioning of the spleen. They can also relieve pain and boost immunity. Bitter herbs aid the cardiovascular system while treating constipation and asthma. Sour herbs treat liver disorders and help in the digestive process. Salty herbs promote the health of kidneys. Other than these common varieties, some bland herbs were also praised due to their effective healing properties.
Medicinal Herbs: Medicinal herbs treated most of the health ailments when there was no use of intricate medicinal instruments and drugs. These herbs worked wonders with their juices, extracts, barks, leaves, flowers and sometimes the entire plant. They have been popularly known as medicinal herbs and their applications were passed on through many generations. However, before using any herb for medicinal reasons, it is essential to know about the plant and the related research. For instance, comfrey was used as an anti-inflammatory agent for treating bruises, sprains, and other wounds, bladderwrack being a good source of iodine, was used in many medications for thyroid conditions, aloe vera was used for minor burns, kava–kava treated depression and anxiety, while milk thistle treated a host of liver diseases. As you can see, specific herbs function in different ways, and it is essential to understand this.
What Are Herbal Combinations?
You have probably heard the term ‘herbal combinations’. These are combinations of different medicinal herbs that work better together than they do by themselves. These specific combinations are made by considering different aspects and phases of health needs. They are powerful nutritional agents with the goodness of many herbs mixed together to ensure good health, as compared to a single herb being used for one treatment at a time. Some herbal combinations are made for specific ailments like hypertension, insomnia, blood pressure, and gastritis, while others promote general well being like energy production, skin care, healthy brain functioning, and weight control. For example, a combination of neem and turmeric can fend off many skin infections. Herbal combinations should not be made a habit and should be followed only until the prescribed time, or until the specific affliction is healed.
Health Benefits Of Herbs
Given below are some of the general benefits of herbs;
Strengthen the Immune System: Herbs are rich in antioxidants, phytosterols, vitamins, and other nutrient substances that equip the body to fight against toxins and germs. They help in boosting the immune system as well. In fact, you can call herbs as ‘medicines’ when taken in small dosages. Some of these immune-boosting herbs are elderberry, garlic, ginger, onion, hibiscus, cinnamon, and goldenseal.
Anti-inflammatory Properties: The essential oils present in some herbs, like ginger root, have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. These herbs inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX), which facilitates inflammatory reactions in your body. This is the reason why herbs are excellent natural remedies for conditions like inflammation, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel ailments like ulcerative colitis.
Reduce Blood Sugar & Cholesterol Levels: Some herbs have positive effects on the pancreas, thereby balancing blood sugar levels. They have reportedly controlled many cases of Type I or Type II diabetes. For instance, fenugreek, bilberry, and cayenne pepper extracts are said to be good blood sugar-stabilizing herbs. Herbs like psyllium, fenugreek, and licorice can result in a noteworthy reduction of cholesterol and blood pressure levels, thereby preventing various coronary ailments.
Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease: Many herbs have antioxidant, anti-amyloid, and anti-inflammatory properties, which can effectively prevent Alzheimer’s disease. In Europe, the Ginkgo herb has been used widely to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Prevent Cancer: Since ancient times, especially in Chinese medicine, herbs were extensively used for treating cancer symptoms. In fact, herbs also help soothe the aftereffects of chemotherapy. Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have shown through a number of studies that gastric, hepatoma, colon, and breast cancer cells can be effectively destroyed by many medicinal herbs like oldenlandia, scutellaria, taraxacum, and phragmites. The herbs purify blood and prevent cell mutations that usually lead to cancerous growths. The volatile oils derived from certain herbs emit cytotoxicity action against pancreatic, prostate, endometrial, and colon cancer cells. However, the selection of herbs to cure cancer should be strictly done under the supervision of a medical practitioner.
Skin Care: For ages, herbs have shown significant benefits when it comes to natural skin care. Amongst the innumerable herbs found all over the globe, some common herbs like neem, turmeric, aloe vera and holy basil assure radiant and healthy skin. If you mix the powdered form of holy basil, neem, mint leaves and a pinch of turmeric powder, it will eventually fade any dark spots on your face. Chamomile oil, when applied topically, helps repair damaged skin tissues. Tea tree oil is a great herbal extract used in cosmetics like face washes and creams for oily skin, as it has the ability to control oil secretion from the pores. Aloe vera is extensively used in manufacturing skin products, as this herb gives a smooth and youthful touch to the skin. Basil leaves are also an important ingredient for skin care products, particularly in India.
Hair Care: Like skin care, hair care has also become a prevalent practice through herbal applications. Massaging your hair with jojoba oil stimulates bountiful growth of your hair. There are many more herbs like gotu kola, horsetail, ginseng, and marigold extract that similarly stimulate hair growth. If you use cooled chamomile tea as a hair toner, it will give you a natural blonde hair coloring effect. With the application of lemon juice, you can enhance the color effect as well. Aloe vera juice or oil regenerate hair cells, thereby repairing damages and also soothing the scalp with a cooling sensation. Fenugreek enhances blood circulation to the hair roots. Ivy burdock cleanses hair and also cures scalp problems like itchiness and dandruff.
Dental Care: Herbal toothpaste is now widely available in the market, which often ensures a perfect set of teeth and gums for you without any side effects. Some tooth cleaners on the market contain harsh abrasives, whiteners, detergents, or bleach that can cause harm to your teeth over the long term. Thus, opting for herbal methods for natural dental care is a wise choice. There are numerous herbs that, when used directly on the teeth and gums, give wonderful results. For instance, rubbing sage leaves on the teeth and gums cleans them instantly and makes the texture smooth. If teeth stains are a problem for you, rub alpine strawberry over the teeth. Bad breath can also be easily eradicated by using lavender water, fresh parsley or mint tea as an herbal mouthwash. For toothaches, clove oil is probably the most effective and readily available medicine. For a healthy mouth and gums, herbs like alpine strawberry, lavender, thyme, sage, neem, fennel, parsley, aloe vera, and mint are found to be very effective and are widely used in the manufacturing of herbal toothpaste, mouthwashes, and teeth whiteners.
Herbs have a number of benefits for your body – the healing properties of herbs vary, but usually most of them are carminative (cure gastric issues), diaphoretic (control water retention), lipolytic (help in weight loss), anti-spasmodic, analgesic (relieve pain), deodorant, aphrodisiac (increase sexual drive), antiseptic, digestive, and stimulant when taken in correct dosage.
Herbs and their Benefits
There are countless herbs grown all across the globe. We have listed some of the most important herbs and their benefits below.
Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed plant that grows 80-100 cm tall and spreads root sprouts. The leaves are thick, fleshy, and green with a ragged margin. Aloe vera is a popular medicinal herb that grows in arid climates and has healing components, which include mannans, anthraquinones, polysaccharides, and lectins. This herb efficiently heals wounds and burns. Moreover, drinking aloe vera juice is highly recommended for diabetes, minor skin infections, cysts, and elevated blood lipids. Aloe vera extract is an important skin care agent.
Dill: This herb is an excellent source of niacin, dietary fiber, zinc, copper, and phosphorus, and it also has a host of vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, riboflavin, folate, and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. The herb helps in dealing effectively with issues like indigestion, diarrhea, insomnia, dysentery, hiccups, respiratory disorders, menstrual disorders, cancer and a number of others. This herb contains ‘eugenol’, a volatile oil that has potent antiseptic and anesthetic powers. Dill also helps in the generation of breast milk and increases sperm count.
Chives: Chives belong to the onion family and are the smallest ones. These are enriched with vitamin A, C, K and B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and other minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, folate, potassium, calcium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc, as well as dietary fiber. Chives help aid proper digestion and also stimulate the appetite. Moreover, it helps digest fatty foods, improves the respiratory system, and prevents obesity through fluid retention. They keep cancer from developing, especially prostate cancer. They also aid in alleviating fatigue issues, have mild anti-inflammatory properties, and kill germs in the intestines and colon.
Holy Basil (Tulsi): Holy basil leaves are probably one of the most ancient herbs used for medicinal purposes. These leaves are rich in protein, riboflavin, folate, niacin, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc. Holy Basil also has high levels of vitamin E, A, C, K, and B6, and dietary fiber. They aid in curing fevers (especially dengue and malaria) very quickly. Since ancient times, tulsi leaves have been added to tea, honey or warm water to cure colds, coughs, sore throats, and respiratory disorders. These leaves have anti-inflammatory properties and are also effective in case of kidney stones, cardiovascular diseases, insect bites, skin infections, and dental and eye problems. This herb has a special spiritual reverence in India.
Rosemary: Rosemary is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron, manganese, and a good source of vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, and copper. Rosemary has numerous health benefits like stimulating the nervous system, improving memory, relieving muscle pain, aiding in digestion, and eliminating circulatory problems, rheumatism, spasms, neuralgia, pain, eczema, wounds, and depression. Rosemary also increases urine production. Another fact about rosemary is that it can be used in combination with St. John’s Wort and ginkgo biloba to cure brain inflammation. It is effective in treating migraines and other variations of headaches as well. Rosemary oil is useful for proper digestion, skin and hair care.
Lavender: This herb is a symbol of purity and cleanliness. Lavender also speeds healing, relieves muscle tension, and reduces stress, while improving the circulatory, immune, and nervous systems. Lavender oil is a great antiseptic, carminative (relieves flatulence), and spasmolytic (relieves muscle spasms). The medicinal properties of this herb include anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antiseptic abilities. In modern times, many stores sell lavender scent for perfumes, diffusers, soaps, talc, and other cosmetics as well.
Peppermint: Peppermint is rich in phosphorus, niacin, potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, zinc, and is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. Peppermint is a good stomach calmer, especially if you are suffering from digestive problems, flatulence or any other related gastric problems. Mint restricts bacterial and fungal growth, as well as helps relieve allergies and asthma. Many researchers say that mint also shows positive effects for cancer treatment, but further research is required to prove this. Mint juice is said to cure irritable bowel syndrome, thereby preventing constipation and colon ailments. The market has an abundance of mint-flavored toothpastes, juice, chewing gum, squash, ice tea, ice creams, and even medicines like laxatives and digestive syrups.
Fenugreek: Fenugreek seeds are often used as spices and the leaves of the plant are used as herbs. They are rich in protein, copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, and dietary fiber. Apart from the seeds, the other parts of the fenugreek plant also have medicinal values. Intake of fenugreek balances cholesterol levels, treats diabetes, and lowers blood sugar. Fenugreek seeds have lots of mucilage, which soothes gastrointestinal inflammation by protecting the stomach and intestinal linings. This herb cures inflammation and, is thereby, a home remedy for boils, abscesses, eczema, burns, and gout. Fenugreek is often recommended for pregnant women as it aids in childbirth and milk production while lactating. However, this herb also has some side effects relating to gastrointestinal discomfort, thus it is advisable to consult a doctor before starting any supplementary tablets. Moderate amounts of fenugreek herb or seeds in your diet will not have any such effects.
Psyllium: Psyllium is also known as ispaghula (‘Isabgol’ in India). This is usually found in husk form from the seeds of the Plantago ovata herb. Rich in soluble dietary fiber content, psyllium is the major ingredient in many commonly used bulk laxatives. This herb usually helps cope with constipation problems and intestinal ulcers, cleans the colon, and helps control cholesterol, weight, and blood pressure. However, if you are having problems with diabetes or if you are pregnant, consult a doctor before consuming psyllium.
Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper is rich in niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, iron, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, A, E, K, and vitamin B6, and dietary fiber. Cayenne pepper is best known for its beneficial properties for the human circulatory system. This herb helps in keeping the blood warm and equalizes the blood pressure in the venous and arterial system – both of which are essential for a healthy circulatory system. This herb also helps in alleviating allergies and muscle cramps, while improving digestion and healing wounds effectively. This herb works effectively for weight reduction, therefore many dietitians recommend cayenne pepper for a healthy and trim body.
Guggul: Guggul is a flowering plant widely used as a medicinal herb. It helps in weight management, relieves arthritis and menstrual pain, improves circulation, lowers cholesterol and alleviates skin problems. This herb also increases white blood cell counts and protects against ailments like the common cold, skin, dental, and eye infections.
Hawthorn Berry: Hawthorn berry is a very valuable herb for the heart and cardiovascular system. It can dilate the arteries and enhance the levels of blood and oxygen streaming to the heart. This herb also dilates blood vessels all over the body so that blood circulation does not exert as much pressure on the heart. It has antioxidant properties, thus preventing the possibilities of atherosclerosis and cancer. It regulates blood pressure, treats angina, and corrects arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). However, excessive doses of hawthorn can have side effects, so it’s better to consult a doctor before starting this medication.
Ginkgo: This herb is derived from the oldest living tree species, known as ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo has immense health benefits due to its rich content of vitamin C and niacin. It helps in improving memory and mental clarity, which is why this herb is a popular ingredient in most brain tonics. It is commonly used to treat Alzheimer’s disease in elderly patients. This herb has also shown positive effects in treating tinnitus, vertigo, and other circulatory disorders. Ginkgo is helpful in combating stress and poor nutrition that can lead to cardiovascular diseases, brain damage, hearing disorders, and other diseases. It reduces anxiety, tension, and fights allergic reactions in the body. Ginkgo biloba is a great natural medicine for cholesterol, diabetes, hemorrhoids, and asthma.
Butcher’s Broom: The roots and stem of butcher’s broom are specifically used for herbal medicines. It improves circulation, relieves constipation, enhances blood flow to important parts of the body like the brain and limbs, and cures hemorrhoids. Butcher’s broom also soothes the pain of rheumatism and arthritis, swelling, cramps, and other symptoms related to chronic venous insufficiency. It is also used as a mild diuretic and laxative.
Winter Cherry (Ashwagandha): Winter cherry is a well-known herb that is commonly used as a diuretic, aphrodisiac, sedative, revitalizing tonic, an anti-inflammatory agent, and an immune stimulator. It helps to reduce swelling and aids in retaining blood supply in the body. Furthermore, it aids in the proper functioning of the nervous system. It also improves concentration, sexual abilities, and asthmatic conditions.
Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi): Like Tulsi, Bacopa is also another ancient herb used in medicines, especially in Asia. This medicinal herb is extensively used as a mental tonic, body revitalizer, memory enhancer, and nerve tonic. It is best known for its ability to enhance memory and to cope with the negative effects of stress. Bacopa is an excellent home remedy for a host of skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, abscess, and ulceration. It is also good for skin, hair and nail growth. Brahmi considerably reduces the oxidation of fats in the blood, thereby reducing the chances of cardiovascular diseases.
There are many other herbs found all around the world, and each one of them has special health benefits. Herbs like Azadirachta indica (Neem), Boswellia Serrata (Shallaki), Shilajit, St John’s Wort, Terminalia, Triphala, and Wheatgrass are just a few more that are being discovered, studied, and added to the vast galleria of herbs that grow in different parts of the world. Use of some of the herbs is banned/restricted in some countries. Consult your local health specialist before using them.
Herbs and Spices - Their Uses and Benefits
Get familiar with the different types of herbs and spices.
Discover how you can benefit from them in your daily life.
Herbs and spices are nature’s precious gift to mankind.
Herbal plants have also been highly valued for the natural remedies they provide.
Many have faith in herbal health benefits and use them knowingly. In fact the benefits of using herbs for health purposes as been practiced for thousands of years in all parts of the world.
Check out the herbs and spices list.
Discover what herb or spice
may cover your special needs.
Explore Herbal Health Benefits
- Do you need help to fight obesity?
Check out Aloe Vera.
- Does your liver hate you? Maybe you had too much Absinthe to drink?
Milk Thistle may be just what you are looking for.
- Do you have toenail fungus?
If so, it may be time to check out how oregano can help.
- Do you struggle trying to control stress and anxiety?
Discover what valerian can do for you.
Consider meadowsweet. This herb has very special qualities.
- Do you often suffer from motion sickness?
Discover how ginger might make your journey much more enjoyable.
- Do you ever wonder what natural remedy would be good for your heart?
If so, be sure to check out hawthorn and cayenne pepper!
Read about the different herbs and spices and discover more health benefits!
Explore the many strange convictions about the herbal powers in folklore and superstition
Do you have an appearance in court coming up?
Put a marigold flower in your pocket to ensure a favorable ruling.
If you are superstitious that may explain any unlucky events in your life.
- Did you find rosemary growing in someone’s garden?
That was a sure sign that the woman in that particular home was the master.
- Are you nervous about something you have to do?
According to old superstitions thyme would give you the courage you need.
It may just enrich our lives if we take a second look at nature’s own wealth of herbs and spices and discover how you can use the different herbs in your daily life.
Sadly today too many synthetic and chemical products are being produced. Some may be good and others may be harming us. Can we honestly say we understand how we are affected?
If you have any concerns or suspect a serious illness it is highly recommended you speak to your physician. Herbs will enhance our lives and may contribute to a healthier body and mind when used correctly.
Welcome to the exhilarating world of herbs and spices!
The difference between Spices and Herbs.
Herb Songs and Poems
Startup Costs: $2,000 - $10,000Home Based: Can be operated from home.Part Time: Can be operated part-time.Franchises Available? No Online Operation? Yes
Herbs are tremendously popular these days--from the smallest shop to the largest discount warehouse, you'll find medicinal herbs, culinary herbs, and herbal teas, baths, candles and aromatherapy essences. If you love the romance and mystique of herbs and you like gardening, then an herb farm might be just the business for you. You'll plant and raise your herbs, then sell them to wholesale or retail customers. You can also sell container plants or herbal products like soaps or vinegars. Some herb farmers operate pick-your-own fields where customers can gather their own plants. The advantages to this business are that it's just you and Mother Nature--this is real back-to-basics stuff, good for the body and the soul--and you can start from home, part time if you like. You can start out small, growing your herbs in a large backyard or renting inexpensive land, but keep in mind that your profits will also be small unless you've got two-digit acreage. You'll need a solid working knowledge of growing and nurturing herbs. If you'll be working several acres or more, you'll need to know farming techniques as well--commercial growing is different from coaxing along a few plants in a backyard border. You'll also need a firm grounding in the wholesale herb business--what's popular, who's buying it for what purposes, which herbs are best abandoned to agribusiness and which new herbs are likely to be the 'in' product in the next few years. (Since it can take two years to reap the rewards of your labors, you'll need to forecast at least this far ahead.) In addition to all this, you'll need top-notch sales and marketing skills to get your herbs in the marketplace and keep them there.
Your customers can be wholesale distributors buying for health product manufacturers, grocery chains and restaurants, or you can sell directly to these businesses yourself. You can target other SOHOs--artisans and crafters who work with herbs--as well as caterers; makers of beauty, health and skin care products; and natural-foods stores. You can sell potted plants to garden centers, florists and nurseries. And you can put your herbs directly in the public's hands by selling at farmers' markets and flea markets. Your best bet for selling to other businesses large or small is to develop a niche--a specialty that's fresh and new in your area--so that instead of competing, you've got an untapped market. If you want to go the wholesale route, contact distributors (which you can locate through herb and specialty foods organizations). To sell directly to SOHOs, take samples of your herbs to them and ask for their business. For farmers' and flea markets, contact the market organizer to find out about fees, then make space reservations--display space at some flea markets and swap meets can be very competitive, so don't wait until the last minute to make arrangements. If you plan on a pick-it-yourself operation, advertise in local papers and put advertising/directional signs on roads leading to your farm. (Make sure to get permission from land owners and local zoning authorities.)
First and foremost, you'll need a good chunk of soil. If you've got acreage, you're ahead of the game. If not, you can often rent land inexpensively--try power companies with fallow land beneath their towers or property owners with unused acres in rural areas of your town or county. One thing to watch for is that wholesale buyers of natural products may require your farm to be on certifiably organic land--one on which nothing was previously grown using pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. (This certification comes from a state agency or a private organization, depending on your state.) Next you'll need seeds and growing supplies. If you live in a cold-weather locale, you may want to invest in a greenhouse. You'll also need a pickup truck or van to deliver your produce to customers.
Gaia Herbs Official WebsiteEcologically Harvested is a term that describes all herbs sold by Gaia Herbs that are not Certified Organic. Ecologically Harvested herbs include herbs that are harvested in their natural habitat, (i.e., wild harvested) according to specific guidelines for harvesting these herbs (i.e., away from roads and industry, as well as guidelines to avoid overharvesting). Our term, Ecologically Harvested, also includes herbs that are grown in managed woodland areas, fields designated for specific herbs, and herbs that are grown by indigenous growers, such as Kava Kava. All Ecologically Harvested herbs pass pesticide and heavy metal testing as well as microbial testing, prior to release.
Травы - iHerb.com
Здоровье мочевого пузыря
Простуды, грипп и вирус
Мозг и когнитивные функции
Поддержка здорового уровня сахара
Поддержка сахара в крови
Формулы по специфическим заболеваниям
Поддержка щитовидной железы
Поддержка здорового кровяного давления
Питание и радиация
Синдром дефицита внимания / ADD / ADHD
Токсикомания / Наркомания
6 Common Herbs and Why You Should Eat Them (Hint: They Don't Just Taste Good)
We typically think of culinary herbs as useful flavorants. They round out flavor profiles, add complexity to otherwise basic dishes, meld with other herbs to form novel taste compounds that you can’t quite place and cannot be replicated with any other combination, and, used with a subtle, skilled hand, simply make food taste incredible. Oh, and like most seemingly inconsequential things people have been adding to food for thousands of years, they also happen to have some fascinating health benefits. Huh – how about that? Things that taste good and have a long and storied culinary history might also be good for you? Amazing how that works out!
Let’s get down to it.
Rosemary goes well with just about anything, in my experience, which is odd, because it’s one of the most pungent, powerful herbs in existence. Some herbs just kinda linger in the background, maybe adding a slight change to the bouquet of a dish but never really distinguishing themselves, but when rosemary’s around, you know it. You can’t avoid it. Heck, even walking around most neighborhoods you’re liable to find a massive rosemary bush trying to evolve into a rosemary tree.
What’s so great about rosemary, besides the flavor and smell? Rosemary-infused olive oil displayed the strongest resistance to oxidative damage and rancidity, beating out herbs such as thyme, lemon, and basil (although both thyme and lemon improved stability, too). In healthy volunteers, oral rosemary extract improved endothelial dysfunction (perhaps due to up-regulation of glutathione, eh?). Rosemary extract also improved the oxidative stability of butter, and it inhibited the formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines (a potential carcinogen) in fried beef patties.
Rosemary’s great, but I find it even greater with a bit of thyme involved. If you have the time, I’d definitely use both in concert. Okay, that was bad; I apologize.
Thyme, however, is worth using, awful jokes aside. I mean, what else but thyme could stave off the oxidative damage done to corn oil under deep-frying conditions for a couple extra hours? Sure, you’re not eating corn oil, but that same lipid-stabilizing accumen would probably work awfully well for, say, butter. And for those who enjoy the classic rosemary/thyme/garlic rub on your lamb, keep an eye out for lamb borne to thyme-fed pregnant ewes, which exhibits greater oxidative stability, lower bacterial counts, and better color. No word on whether it influences taste.
Sage is under appreciated. Brits have always used it in their cooking, and Mom probably uses it to season her turkey stuffing, but that’s about it. I like it, but I’ll admit that it can be overpowering; you only need a pinch, or a few leaves, meaning most of the bunch you bought for $2 at the market goes to waste. One solution is to grow your own. Another is to freeze or dry the leftovers. Either way, it’s worth using on poultry and fatty cuts of meat (think big juicy roasts).
Sage is rich with rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant found in many common culinary herbs that (surprise, surprise) protects fats against oxidative damage. In humans who drank sage tea for several weeks, endogenous antioxidant defenses were up-regulated and the lipid profile was improved (HDL increase). Perhaps most interestingly, a sage extract was used to improve memory and attention in healthy older subjects. It also seems to work on memory in healthy younger subjects, too.
Everyone loves something about mint, in my experience. They may hate the classic spearmint, but love peppermint (a hybrid of spearmint and watermint). They may hate the taste, but love the smell (or vise versa). They might be scared of Santa and his creepy elves, but the allure of the candy cane draws them to his expansive lap. They may hate getting hair cuts, but cannot resist the hypnotic swirl of the barber’s pole.
As for its health benefits, peppermint oil was more effective than placebo at treating irritable bowel syndrome, a meta-analysis of the clinical literature found, and it was equally effective as pharmaceutical treatments. Also, though it was a very brief trial, spearmint leaf tea showed promise as an anti-androgen treatment for hirsutism (abnormal hairiness) in polycystic ovarian syndrome in female subjects.
Ah, basil. Pesto uses it. Thai cooks will sometimes stir-fry it. I like nibbling on raw leaves, from time to time. It’s one of those herbs with a flavor so distinct that its usage is severely limited. That is, you can’t just add basil to everything and expect the dish to taste good, but when it works, it’s a thing of beauty. Go get yourself a plant or a bagful. The good thing about basil is that it freezes well, so don’t worry about wasting it.
And basil does some cool stuff, too. In hypertensive rats, sweet basil reduced blood pressure. In diabetics, holy basil reduced both fasting and post-prandial blood glucose. And as is usual with the herbs, basil displays some protective attributes against fatty acid oxidation.
US soldiers returning home after World War II carried with them a fondness for the “pizza herb” – oregano. We at MDA prefer to call it the “meatza herb,” but you get the point: it’s a good ally in the kitchen.
Oregano is a strange herb in that its dried form confers a more potent taste than the fresh leaves, so don’t feel too bad about using the dried stuff. It works just fine, and it retains most of its antioxidant capacity even when dry as a bone. And a bountiful, impressive antioxidant capacity it is, what with its ability to reduce the formation of carcinogenic and atherogenic compounds when added to cooking hamburger meat. Malondialdehyde levels were also reduced in plasma and urine samples taken from those who ate the meat.
What can we gather from this quick look at just a few of the most common culinary herbs? Well, herbs confer a lot of benefits to the cooking process. They make it taste good for one, but they also protect the fats from oxidation during cooking, making them perfectly paired with fatty foods – like herbed cheeses, herbed butters, lamb legs studded with rosemary and thyme, butter or cream sauce reductions with a dash of herbs, and herb-infused olive oils.
A Few Herby Tips
- Use a wide variety of herbs.
- Never use too much of any single herb at once.
- Try different blends.
- Grow some fresh herbs and keep plenty of dried on hand.
- Let your taste buds guide you.
- Add herbs when cooking fats; this won’t just protect the fat from oxidation, but it will also provide the best flavor.
- Feed your pregnant ewe plenty of thyme.
What’s your favorite herb? There are dozens out there, and I’m sure each has its own set of health benefits. Anything else you’d like to know about herbs? Tell me in the comment board and I’ll see about a follow-up post!
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