When we think of herbs, we usually think of adding flavor and aroma to our dishes, but the truth is, they add far, far more than that.
You’re going to be shocked and amazed to find out that herbs are some of the most alkalizing and detoxifying foods you can put into your body.
As a raw chef, I absolutely love herbs.
They not only make your food taste delicious naturally, they also add big nutrition in a tiny package.
So today, I’m sharing my favorite herbs, their powerful health benefits, and how to cook more with them.
Let’s start with the general health benefits of the most commonly used herbs.
Parsley, cilantro, chives, basil, dill, sage, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme are all excellent sources of fiber and the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A, which aids vision and the skin
- Vitamin K, which keeps blood from clotting, helps strengthen bones, and can aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s
- Copper, which prevent joint pain along with manganese
- Riboflavin, which boosts energy
- Niacin, which controls cholesterol levels
- Folate (aka. folic acid)
To dive further, let’s take a look at the some of the astonishing abilities of individual herbs, starting with the herb that came in at number 8 on the 41 most powerful foods list that I shared a few weeks back…
Who knew that one serving of parsley could provide you with 62% of your daily-recommended value (DV) of vitamin C?
That’s more vitamin C than oranges!
But that’s nothing compared to its vitamin K content.
Parsley has an unbelievable 574% of the DV of vitamin K. It also has twice as much iron as spinach.
No wonder it’s a top powerhouse food. One study showed that it dramatically inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells.
Did you know that cilantro and coriander are one in the same?
Coriander is the plant and cilantro is the leaf.
Cilantro supplies 225% of the DV of vitamin A, but its real super power is its antioxidants and essential volatile oils. C
ilantro is a blood cleanser and chelator, and not only helps your liver clean-sweep toxins out of the body, the herb may have a role in fighting off Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Ranking at number 14 on the 41 most powerful foods list, chives are also packed with the nutrients listed above.
Amazingly, chives are anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial.
Anyone who suffers from low-grade inflammation or arthritis should eat basil regularly because it contains eugenol, which counteracts inflammation.
Eugenol is one of the powerful volatile oils in basil that also stop bacteria from growing in food and in the body.
The antioxidants in oregano are so potent, one study found the herb to be a better source of the free-radical fighters (aka ACID fighter!) than berries, other fruits, or vegetables.
Studies have shown oregano decreases the risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
An impressive supplier of calcium, one tablespoon of dill seed contains more calcium than one-third cup of milk.
The volatile oil in dill actually helps neutralize the carcinogens we come into contact with daily, like second-hand smoke and car exhaust. Studies have also found that dill has an antifungal effect.
Sage has long been known to include powerful oils that have been used to treat everything from muscle aches to memory loss for centuries.
The antioxidants in sage have been known to fight asthma, bronchial infections, and inflammation in the lungs.
It also contains a flavonoid called salvigenin that may help prevent cardiovascular disease.
The Journal of Medicinal Foods ranked thyme as one of the top disease preventing herbs and spices.
Thyme has been proven to have antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties, even fighting infections like staph and E. coli.
As a result, thyme actually has a greater effect on acne than benzoyl peroxide, the chemical in most over the counter acne medications.
How to Enjoy More Herbs
So now you know how important herbs are for your health. How can you include more herbs in your diet?
- Add them to smoothies – Throw in a handful of parsley, cilantro, or basil along with the spinach or other greens you’re adding to your smoothies.
- Prep herbs all at once – I find that if I wash, dry, and chop up more than I need for a recipe, I’m more likely to use them again in other dishes.And don’t forget the drying – if it seems like herbs are hard to chop because they’re sticking together, they’re probably too wet. Thoroughly dry them before working with them.
- Save leftover herbs – Instead of letting them rot in the fridge after using them in one recipe, freeze chopped, leftover herbs in ice cube trays. Then fill with water. Add a cube or two to your next smoothie.
- Grow an herb garden – Even adding one indoor herb plant will increase your use of fresh herbs. Remember, out of sight, out of mind. If it’s right there in the kitchen, you’re more likely to see it and use it.Even in NYC where we have very little space, using something like this Aero garden can provide you with plenty of fresh, organic herbs right out of your kitchen.
- Pick up herbs every time you shop – If you get in the habit of buying one herb each time you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market, you’ll naturally get in the habit of cooking with them more too.
- Use them in salad dressings – Every time you make a dressing, double the recipe and add whatever herbs you have on hand. Save the leftovers in the refrigerator for next time, and you’ll have used the herbs before they had a chance to go bad.
- Garnish soups and quinoa bowls with herbs – I throw cilantro, chives, dill, or whatever I happen to have into my lunches and dinners as I’m prepping them to take the flavor and nutrition up a notch.
If you’re not eating herbs every day, I highly encourage you to add a supplement that will ensure you’re getting enough of those important vitamins and minerals listed above.
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Sources: http://foodfacts.mercola.com/parsley.html http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/cilantro.html http://foodfacts.mercola.com/chives.html http://foodfacts.mercola.com/basil.html http://foodfacts.mercola.com/sage.html http://foodfacts.mercola.com/dill.html http://foodfacts.mercola.com/thyme.html http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/01/oregano-health-benefits.aspx