We often discuss the health benefits of several spices and how to incorporate them into your diet, so we thought it was a good idea to offer up some insights into herbs you can use as well to improve your health. You may even already be familiar with many of these, as they are commonly found in kitchens across the U.S. (and elsewhere, of course). Just as spices can add flavor (and sometimes heat) to your food, herbs can add a variety of flavors, sweet, savory, earthy, all while enhancing your mental and physical health.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common herbs, their benefits, and how to use them.
This savory herb has been used in healing for centuries, dating back to the Middle Ages, even. Today, research suggests that sage can enhance the brain’s function, particularly around memory. For example, one study showed that sage consumption blocked the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain, an enzyme process associated with Alzheimer’s, as well as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, oestrogenic and CNS depressant (sedative) effects.
Sage is an incredibly versatile herb, and can be used in:
- Tomato sauces
- Meat dishes (including pork, beef, and chicken)
- Mixed with butter
Just remember, this herb has a particularly strong flavor, so use sparingly at first.
Mint as well as oil made from the leaves offers a variety of health benefits related to both gut health and pain management. Mint can be used to soothe the painful symptoms of irritated bowel syndrome (IBS), and the oil can be rubbed into sore muscles to relieve tension. Mint oil can also be rubbed on the forehead and temples to help relieve sinus headaches.
Mint can also be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen, including:
- Adding to tea (or even making tea from mint leaves)
- Mixed with salads (fresh leaves) or salad dressings (dried)
- Tzatziki sauce or other yogurt-based sauces
If you get itchy eyes, a runny nose, and a stuffy head as a result of allergies, then rosemary is like the herb for you. Studies have suggested that increased consumption of rosmarinic acid, found in rosemary, reduces autoimmune responses to allergens. Additionally, rosemary has been shown to be high in antioxidants, which can help reduce toxins in the liver.
Like sage, rosemary can really amp up the savoriness of sauces and meat dishes.
Garlic isn’t really an herb or a spice, but it’s worth including here. Of course, we’ve all heard that garlic keeps away vampires (good to know just in case), but it’s also a natural immune system booster, increasing protection against the common cold. Additionally, some studies have shown garlic to contribute to reducing blood pressure as well as improving cholesterol levels.
As for using it, garlic can be put in nearly every savory dish. From soups to sauces, from roasts to stir fried vegetables, and, well, just about everything.