Herbs are an excellent way to infuse flavor into dishes without packing in extra calories that may otherwise come from bad fats, refined sugars, and excess sodium. They elevate any meal, compliment almost any ingredient, not to mention their healing properties, and high nutritional value. Herbs can enhance the healing powers of many other foods, enhancing digestive health. Food would be way less tasty were it not for the wonders of herbs! So have fun in the kitchen, try some of the following herbs, and find out more about their health benefits.
1. Cilantro: Did somebody say detox? Cilantro, which is the fresh leaf of coriander, is known for its heavy metal detoxification benefits. The large amounts of chlorophyll in cilantro flush out toxins from the liver, kidney, and digestive tract. Cilantro is full of an unusual array of healing phytonutrients and antioxidants. This flavorful herb also helps prevent urinary tract infections and has antibacterial effects against bacteria and fungi. Add fresh cilantro to your green juice or smoothie to enjoy its unique flavor and benefits.
2. Parsley: A sprig of parsley can provide much more than a decoration on your plate. Rich in vitamin C and K, parsley makes a great supplement for healthy bones. The flavonoid in parsley called luteolin helps fight free radicals that cause damage to cells. Serve a colorful salad with oranges, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and parsley leaves, and infuse your homemade dressing with chopped parsley for maximum flavor. Then, chew some parsley after dinner as a natural breath freshener and digestive aid.
3. Basil: This pungent herb is a good source of magnesium, which promotes cardiovascular health by prompting muscles and blood vessels to relax, thus improving blood flow and lessening the risk of irregular heart rhythms. Basil is also helpful in treating constipation, indigestion, stomach cramps, and more. Who can resist the sweet addition of basil to any kind of food since it goes well with almost anything. It compliments tomatoes beautifully, and makes any salad or sandwich really come alive. To get the best from basil, wait until the last minute to scatter over dishes before serving.
4. Mint: Mint is king when it comes to relieving stomach upsets. It relaxes the muscular lining of the digestive tract, alleviating cramps and gas and aiding indigestion. The smell of mint alone can be enough to charge your batteries and get your brain functioning on a high level again. If you are feeling sluggish, anxious, depressed, or simply exhausted, mint and its essential oils can help. The strong and refreshing aroma of mint is also a quick and effective remedy for nausea. Make a delicious hot tea with either fresh or dry mint, or place with water in ice-cube trays in your freezers to make herb blocks for a cool refreshment.
5. Rosemary: Its memorable flavor and unique health benefits makes it an indispensable herb for every kitchen. It has been shown to increase blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration, and memory. In ancient Greece, students would place rosemary sprigs in their hair when studying for exams, and mourners would also throw the fragrant herb into the grave of the deceased as a symbol of remembrance. It also contains substances useful for stimulating the immune system, increasing circulation, and improving digestion. It can also be used as a natural room freshener. Place some fresh rosemary springs in a vase, and enjoy the ambience as the pine-like aroma spreads around your home.
6. Dill: This fragrant, feathery herb’s piquant flavor makes it my favorite on the list. Dill’s name comes from the old Norse word dilla which means “to lull.” This name reflects dill’s traditional uses as both a stomach soother and an insomnia reliever. Dill was used by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in a recipe for cleaning the mouth. Ancient soldiers would apply burnt dill seeds to their wounds to promote healing. It has antibacterial properties, and has a calming effect on the digestive system, naturally helping tummy upsets. Sprinkle it on roasted potatoes, or make a delicious tea by infusing it in hot water for a few minutes.
Ready to grow your own herb garden? Herbs are easy to grow, and don’t need a lot of space, plus they are a great way to save a few bucks at the grocery store. Cilantro, basil, rosemary, dill and mint are easy to grow, store well and can be used fresh or dried.