Need to load your dinner down with antioxidants? Add oregano. Need more iron? Add lavender. You need to start cooking with fresh herbs that are nature’s real miracles, tiny taste-enhancers loaded with compounds that add antioxidants and vital minerals to every dish, and some that can even cut down on toxic chemicals that form while cooking. Here’s a list of 9 herbs that will make any meal healthier.
A compound in cilantro called dodecenal is nearly twice as effective at killing salmonella bacteria as commercial antibiotics, and they isolated a dozen other antibiotic compounds that were also effective at killing other foodborne bacteria. Those same compounds were also found in coriander, the spice made from seeds of the cilantro plant.
Lavender has a pretty solid reputation for relaxing you and alleviating stress. But if you’re not cooking with it, you’re missing out on all the nutrients stored in its fragrant leaves. A great source of calcium and vitamin A, lavender also has a decent amount of iron and vitamin C, the latter of which can help ward off seasonal allergies
Lemongrass is well known in natural medicine for its ability to relieve fever, muscle cramps, upset stomachs, and headaches. It’s loaded with antioxidants, as well, which help protect against oxidative stress, one of the leading causes of heart disease and cancer. Lemongrass also contains antimicrobial properties that fight E. coli.
This potent herb contains up to 20 times more cancer-fighting antioxidants than other herbs, on average, and holds its own against fruit, as well. 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano has the same antioxidant power as an entire apple. And gram for gram, the herb has twice the antioxidant activity of blueberries.
Two tablespoons of fresh parsley will provide more than 150 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin K, which plays an important role in blood clotting, proper bone formation, and liver function. A super side benefit of eating parsley is that the herb’s odor-beating chlorophyll will freshen your breath.
Peppermint does more than just dress up a cocktail or freshen your breath. It ranks third, behind sage and oregano, in terms of antioxidant content, and it might actually keep you skinny. Simply smelling mint can reduce cravings.
Exposing meat to the hot flames of a grill leads to the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs), carcinogenic compounds created when meats are barbecued or grilled. Add rosemary, though, and that doesn’t happen. Cooking meats with rosemary could lower the levels of HCAs by 60 to 80 percent.
This strong-flavored herb is an antioxidant powerhouse. Sage boosts your brain power. If you’re a local-food addict, try pineapple sage, a variety you can grow in your back yard that tastes and smells just like the tropical fruit but without the food miles.
Thyme has been used for everything from killing germs to curing colds. Two teaspoons of the herb pack in nearly 20 percent of your daily requirement for iron, and it’s also rich in manganese, a mineral that boosts brain function and aids in healthy bone, skin, and cartilage formation.