The Power of Herbs
Nutritionists and healthy cooks have a secret for achieving low-fat, low-calorie foods that taste great. They make good use of herbs and spices in their cooking! Recently even more attention has been given to spices and herbs for their antioxidant richness and their nutrient content.
The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Content (ORAC) is a measurement of antioxidants in foods developed by the National Institutes in Health (NIH). According to the ORAC scale, a half-teaspoon of dried oregano has as many antioxidants as three cups of fresh spinach. If you or a family member hates vegetables, here is a way to get the same benefits without the fight!
Here is a list of common dried herbs and what they pair well with. Remember to always check with your health care provider in case any medication you are taking could be affected by a change in diet. Also, a little goes a long way, so start small; you can always add more!
Oregano – Did you know that 1 teaspoon has the same amount of antioxidants as 3 cups of broccoli? It is one of the leading dried herbs in antioxidant content. It also adds great flavor to homemade pastas sauce, soups, pizza, and chilis.
Rosemary – Rosemary is a natural anti-inflammatory. It is currently being studied for its role in preventing heart disease and other heart-related problems. The flavor can be used in marinades for meats, on grilled lamb, fish, and roasted vegetables. Try mixing it with lemon juice and a bit of olive oil for a light, flavorful salad dressing!
Thyme – This powerful herb has benefits inside and outside the kitchen. The oils in thyme help heel throat infections and other mouth problems. It also is a strong antioxidant and has been shown to help fight respiratory infections. Thyme contains terpenoids, which play a large role in cancer prevention. Thyme can be crushed and made into tea or it is great for marinades, on grilled fish, and in vegetable dishes.
Basil – This herb has been used to treat constipation and for calming and soothing sour stomachs. It also provides a large amount of nutrients ranging from potassium and iron to vitamins A and K. As with the other dried herbs, it is a wonderful anti-inflammatory and promotes cardiovascular health. Enjoy dried basil in soups, stews, marinades, and on top of pizza and stirfries.
Ginseng – This herb has been around for years and used extensively in Asian medicine. Some of its uses are greater alertness, stamina, control blood sugar levels, and help with regulating blood pressure. The most popular use is to drink it in tea. Just grind the dried ginseng root in a coffee grinder and place into a tea infuser. Then add hot water and steep.
Parsley – Parsley is loaded with good nutrition. Vitamin A, C, and K, fiber, and folic acid are just some of it’s healthy nutrients. It also contains a high level of flavonoids, which make it a strong antioxidant. Enjoy this herb on baked potatoes, in soups, and with fish. Lebanese dishes feature parsley quite often.
Cilantro – This ancient herb plays a large role in decreasing inflammation, high cholesterol levels, diarrhea, mouth ulcers, urinary tract infections, and menstrual disorders. People either love or hate cilantro, so be careful not to mistake it for parsley! Add cilantro to Asian dishes, salsas, and Mexican entrees.
Peppermint – Most of us know this one for its minty scent, but this herb is packed with nutritional value. It contains vitamins A, B2, and C, as well as copper, iron and manganese. It can act as a decongestant and treat conditions like the flu, sinusitis, dry cough, fevers, and nausea. It also is great for menstrual cramps and other digestive problems, such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). To enjoy, add it to teas or combine in salads and with fruit. It also goes well in gazpachos and other tomato-based soups.
Mix It Up
The best thing about dried herbs is that there is no preparation needed, just open and use! Also, a little goes a long way. Start trying them with different meats or fish to see how they taste. As you feel more comfortable you can start mixing and matching.
Herbs have been around for centuries because of their wonderful medicinal purposes. Eating them is a natural way to help the body function at its optimal level. Not only will you be saving tons of calories by using dried herbs, you and your family will be absorbing numerous health benefits without even realizing it.
Lose weight, have more energy, and enhance flavor all by the shake of a jar!