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Are Herbs Good for You?

Find out why these potent little plants deserve a place in your garden and on your plate.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
March 29, 2010
Episode #087

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“Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.” Sure, it’s a great tune by Simon and Garfunkle. Add a little buttermilk or some red wine vinegar and it would make a nice marinade or salad dressing. But it’s also a prescription for good health. This week, I want to talk about herbs and why these potent little plants deserve a place in your garden and on your plate.

Herbs are Super Nutritious 

Herbs are really good for you. Like virtually all leafy green plants, herbs are quite nutritious. But ounce for ounce, fresh herbs like oregano, rosemary, parsley, and basil are among the most nutritious greens you can find.  Compared with the same amount of lettuce, raw parsley gives you three times as much vitamin A, four times as much calcium, five times as much iron, 17 times as much vitamin K, and 44 times as much vitamin C.  Similarly, the total antioxidant capacity of fresh oregano is eight times higher than spinach. 

Of course, we tend to eat lettuce and spinach by the cupful and parsley and oregano by the pinchful, so it’s not exactly a fair comparison. But you get the idea. Herbs are a very concentrated source of both flavor and nutrition. In both respects, a little goes a long way.

What Else Can Herbs Do for You?

Herbs are also very rich in a wide range of disease-fighting phytochemicals. Almost all green herbs have potent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition:

  • Parsley: Parsley contains compounds that inhibit tumor formation.

  • Dill: Compounds in dill help neutralize carcinogens.

  • Rosemary: Rosemary increases circulation to the brain.

  • Thyme: Thyme has an oil that seems to protect brain cells against age-related changes.

  • Basil: Basil can help regulate blood pressure.

  • Peppermint:  Peppermint can soothe nausea and indigestion.

  • Oregano: Oregano contains potent anti-microbial compounds that can protect against dysentery.

The list goes on and on.

Of course, no herb is a silver bullet against disease or aging and I don’t think you need to fill up your medicine cabinet with herbal supplements. But it’s clear that herbs contain a wide range of natural compounds that help keep your body in good working condition. So, why not find ways to include more of them in your diet?

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