Herbs: Little Leaves with a Major Punch
By Genevieve Smith
While one eats salad greens by the bowlful, herbs are eaten by the pinch. Many people skip working fresh herbs into their diet altogether. Herbs are underestimated, often seen as a gourmet garnish that is superfluous to a simple food regimen. But did you know that these little leaves are not only packed with flavor, but also with major nutrition? Pound for pound, most herbs contain more nutrients than the vegetables one eats regularly.
The Lowdown on Herbs
All leafy green plants are quite nutritious, but fresh oregano, parsley, rosemary and basil are among the most nutrient dense. When comparing raw parsley with lettuce ounce to ounce, the herb provides 44 times as much Vitamin C, 17 times as much Vitamin K, five times as much iron, four times as much calcium, and triple the Vitamin A of lettuce. That’s some major nutrition, and it doesn’t end there. Fresh cut oregano has an antioxidant capacity eight times higher than that of spinach. The takeaway here: invite herbs into your diet for some major nutrition and flavor points.
Added Benefits of Herbs
These foodie-favored plants tend to have noteworthy health benefits beyond their vitamin and mineral content. Compounds in the following leafy greens have a considerable effect on one’s health:
- Basil - Basil's compounds help to regulate blood pressure
- Dill - The aromatic relative of parsley contains nutrients that neutralize carcinogens
- Oregano - Packed with potent antimicrobial compounds, eating oregano helps fight off dysentery
- Parsley - Compounds in parsley block the formation of tumors
- Peppermint - Peppermint leaves relieve nausea and indigestion
- Rosemary - Eating rosemary is found to increase blood circulation to the brain
- Thyme - The herb’s natural oils seem to protect brain cells from certain effects of aging
It’s Easy to Dig In
Perhaps the best part about springing for fresh herbs is how easy it is to grow them on one’s own. Herbs are tenacious and will survive in most conditions, from an indoor garden to a pot on the porch. If you have an outdoor garden, herbs are also handy to plant interspersed between fruits and vegetables often preyed upon by pests. The pungent nature of herbs repels bunnies and insects alike, making for a more successful garden.
In a nutshell, there’s no excuse not to bring fresh herbs into your life. Nutrient dense, cancer fighting, and easy to grow, it’s a wonder more of us don’t turn to these robust little leaves with more regularity. Spruce up a hearty salad, your next chicken roast, or a mouthwatering hash and you’ll find new things to love about mealtime. May you pursue good health with joy and curiosity!
To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Round Rock, Tex.