HALE AND HEALTHY by Salmeen Salem
Basil, rosemary, mint, marjoram, sage, tarragon (and much more) are not just garnish tools in your kitchen. These aromatic, flavorful leaves are probably not getting the credit they deserve! Check out these 5 reasons to know why you should start including more herbs in your diet.
One: A Pack of Polyphenols
Herbs are packed with polyphenols, which are plant compounds that are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize the effect of harmful free radicals that can damage cells and make it more susceptible to inflammation and chronic illnesses.
Rosemary, sage and oregano are among the highest-polyphenol containing herbs. In general, fresh herbs contain a higher antioxidant capacity than dried herbs.
Two: A Burst of Flavor
Herbs are a world of flavor! Each type and each combination of different types can create a completely different culinary experience and take your dish to a totally different level. Dried herbs usually give a stronger flavor than fresh herbs. As a quick rule, 1 spoon of dried herbs is equivalent to 4 spoons of fresh herbs in terms of flavor. To retain the flavor from fresh herbs, make sure to add them towards the end of the cooking process since they lose some of their flavor when cooked for too long.
Three: A Ton of Versatility
Herbs are among the most versatile ingredients in your kitchen. You can use them fresh or dried. Whole or cut/crushed. Raw or cooked. Alone or in combination with other herbs. Different types can go in almost every dish from soups to stews, marinades, meats and even desserts! You can use herbs in cooking, for garnishing, as a beverage or simply fresh in a salad. The possibilities are endless. Get creative and try them in as many ways as you like.
Four: A Control on Other Ingredients
Because of their strong flavors, herbs are a great way to control the addition of other not-so-healthy ingredients in your diet such as salt. Salt is high in sodium, which makes our bodies retain water and can elevate blood pressure if consumed in high amounts. You can control at least part of your salt intake by substituting it with fresh or dried herbs (or spices) to make up for the taste difference. If a dish is flavorful with herbs and spices, you’ll be more likely to add more salt, oils or butter to enhance its taste. As a trial, you can start by halving the amount of salt in a recipe and substituting it with herbs or spices instead. As you get used to it, you’ll find it easier to stick to this shift.
Five: A Range of Health Benefits
A hot research topic in the scientific world is the health benefits of different types of herbs and how they can directly affect our bodies. Although a lot of it is still under investigation, but some of the evidence is suggesting a strong effect of herbs on different health areas such as chronic diseases, inflammation, digestive health and more. While we wait for some robust evidence, it’s smart to start including a wide variety of herbs in your diet whenever possible.
Now that you know the amazing benefits of herbs, don’t hesitate the next time you want to through a handful in a delicious recipe.