At the risk of sounding like a Simon and Garfunkel song, I am going to give you some reasons you need more herbs in your diet. Now, I am not talking about the most recent herb made legal to Californians (that’s a whole other article), I am talking about a group of herbs we all know about, most likely have in our kitchens, but may not know the benefits of eating them. So if you are looking for a healthy way to spice up your diet, give these five common herbs a try!
Many Mediterranean and Italian dishes use an abundance of rosemary. It tastes amazing in salads, cheeses, bread, and on meats, so it’s very easy to integrate this herb into your diet. Rosemary is known for improving memory and mood because it contains carnosic acid, also known for protecting against Alzheimer’s disease. You can apply it on areas where you have arthritis or other forms of joint pain and it will serve as a pain reliever. Add some rosemary essential oil to your diffuser or steam some in a pot, put a towel over your head and breathe it in to relieve migraines. It also serves as an anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling when ingested. Rosemary smells amazing and is a great herb that is easy to grow in your garden.
Lavender is one of the most popular, well-known spices today. It adds a lovely burst of purple color to any garden and the strong scent is bound to make anyone smile. Lavender can be eaten in the raw form or in the form of an essential oil. Ingesting lavender can ease upset stomach related to gas, nausea or indigestion, so try it in muffins, salads, and soups as well as a garnish on many dishes. This purple plant contains vitamin A, which helps your eyesight, keeps eyes moist and prevents cataracts and other age-related eye diseases. It is also a great source of iron, which prevents anemia and keeps your blood healthy. Lavender has many calming properties, so try a few drops in your bath to relax you before bed.
Basil is a staple in many Italian dishes as it provides a wonderful aroma and spice. It is packed with antioxidants that will keep your immune system functioning at full capacity. Basil is antibacterial so it will kill unhealthy bacteria in your food and body. This herb also serves and an anti-inflammatory; when eaten it aids in proper digestion and reduces swelling throughout the body. You can buy a tiny pot of basil at most health food grocery stores and plant it in your garden so you have an organic, local supply whenever you want it in your own backyard.
Mint is in many foods you already likely eat. That’s a good thing because it is packed with nutrients that your body needs. Chewing on a piece of raw mint, or a food that contains mint not only freshens your breath but also cleans your mouth (as well as the rest of your body) of any fungus that may be lingering. Mint has antifungal properties so it can aid in ridding your body of excess yeast. It can also help alleviate symptoms associated with allergies like headaches and congestion. It is an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. Feeling sleepy? Simply place a mint leaf near your nose, take 3 deep breaths, and you will perk right up.
You likely eat oregano on your pizza, sandwiches, and salads. Due to its nutrient richness, you may want to consider sprinkling more on! Oregano is packed with nutrients like potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and magnesium, which are all necessary for your body to perform at maximum levels. Oregano also contains vitamin K which is good for bone health, vitamins A and C which are necessary for immune health, vitamin B6 that is needed for heart health and vitamin B3 which maintains healthy blood circulation, which keeps your muscles from getting sore and improves joint mobility.
So, next time you reach in the pantry, grab a few of these herbs for a more healthy you! Or you may just want to think about starting a herb garden so you can get all the nutrients and benefits these delicious herbs have to offer.