Cooking Healthy with Herbs
If you’re not utilizing fresh herbs, you’re missing out. Herbs are nature’s real miracles, tiny taste-enhancers loaded with compounds that add antioxidants and vital minerals to every dish.
Thyme – Two teaspoons of the herb pack in nearly 20 percent of your daily requirement for iron, and it’s also rich in manganese, a mineral that boosts brain function and aids in healthy bone, skin, and cartilage formation.
Parsley – Two tablespoons of fresh parsley will provide more than 150 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin K, which plays an important role in blood clotting, proper bone formation, and liver function. The herb’s odor-beating chlorophyll will freshen your breath. The ancient Greeks utilized parsley as an aphrodisiac.
Lemongrass is a great addition to recipes, and is prized in natural medicine for its ability to relieve fever, muscle cramps, upset stomachs, and headaches. It’s loaded with antioxidants, which helps protect against oxidative stress, one of the leading causes of heart disease and cancer. Lemongrass contains antimicrobial properties that fight E. coli.
Oregano – This potent herb contains up to 20 times more cancer-fighting antioxidants than other herbs, on average, and holds its own against fruit. According to USDA researchers, 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano has the same antioxidant power as an apple. The herb has twice the antioxidant activity of blueberries.
Rosemary – Exposing meat (red or white) to the hot flames of a grill forms heterocyclic amines (HCAs), carcinogenic compounds. Add rosemary, though, and that doesn’t happen, according to researchers from the University of Arkansas, Iowa State University, and Kansas State University, who found that cooking meats with rosemary could lower the levels of HCAs by 60 to 80 percent.
Cilantro contains a compound called dodecenal that is nearly twice as effective at killing salmonella bacteria (commonly found in raw meats) as commercial antibiotics, and they isolated a dozen other antibiotic compounds that were also effective at killing other food borne bacteria. The same compounds were found in coriander, the spice made from seeds of the cilantro plant.
Sage is an antioxidant powerhouse, ranking just behind oregano in terms of antioxidant content, and it boosts your brain power. Research has shown that adults who received low levels of sage oils had better memory and subject recall, based on cognitive tests, than people taking a placebo.
Lavender is great source of calcium and vitamin A, and has a decent amount of iron and vitamin C.