How to Use Healing Herbs in Cooking
Tired of eating bland food? Using herbs in cooking boosts the flavor and nutrient value of your meal. Fresh herbs contain polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that feature a host of impressive health benefits. Cooking with healing herbs can improve your metabolic function, strengthen your immune system, and reduce the effects of gastrointestinal inflammation.
Store-bought herbs are expensive, so save yourself some money and plant an herb garden at home. Support your nutrition and supercharge your meals with these 7 healthy herbs you can add to your favorite recipes.
Turmeric is dried and crushed into a bright yellow powder. This root herb contains a potent antioxidant polyphenol known as curcumin. Research on curcumin shows that it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory compound. Research on turmeric shows it prevents the start and spread of systemic inflammation in the GI tract. The curcumin in turmeric can even kill certain types of cancer cells.
Turmeric is a favorite ingredient in curries and other Indian dishes. Be careful when you’re handling turmeric powder, it has a use as a natural dye agent as well. If the powdered herb gets onto your hands, it will stain them bright yellow for a few days. Remember to wear kitchen gloves!
The Ancient Greeks understood the healing nature of garlic. The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates stated, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Garlic has a history of use as a natural remedy for centuries.
Garlic is related to the Allium family. The sulfur compounds formed when crushing garlic cloves are known as allicin. This plant-based antioxidant compound has a potent immune boosting effect on the body, curing illnesses such as the common cold. Add a few crushed cloves of garlic to your dishes and reap the benefits of this superfood.
The flowering ginger plant originates in China where it’s had use in cooking and traditional medicine for thousands of years. Ginger tastes terrific with a wide variety of Asian dishes, enhancing the flavors of the meal. The root of the ginger flower is crushed or chopped into fine slivers for use as a side dish in sushi, or an additive for cooking.
Gingerol, the polyphenol flavonoids found in ginger root, reduce inflammation, cure the symptoms or the common cold, decrease blood pressure, and help to balance blood-sugar levels.
A chef’s favorite, the smell of fresh chopped basil excites the senses and tantalizes the taste buds. This herb is the ideal garnish for many Italian and seafood dishes. The polyphenol flavonoids found in basil leaves are vicenin and orientin, potent antioxidant compounds that clear the blood of free radicals which cause cell oxidation.
When cooking with basil, stack leaves together and gently roll them into a ball. Finely chop the basil, taking care not to bruise it. Sprinkle it on your favorite gluten-free pasta and take advantage of the high vitamin and mineral content of this herb.
This flat-leafed herb originates from the Italian region of the Mediterranean. The dried or fresh leaves of parsley contain the polyphenol compounds limonene, eugenol, myristicin, and alpha-thujene. Adding parsley to your cooking helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce blood pressure. Regular use of parsley relieves the effects of bloating and cleanses the kidneys of toxins.
A fantastic addition to lamb chops, and an essential ingredient of a perfect mojito. Mint is a versatile and fragrant herb that’s used to treat illnesses including infections of the upper respiratory tract and sinus. Mint aids digestion, supports weight loss and provides relief from nausea, fatigue, and depression.
The sharp aroma of mint activates salivary glands, which in turn signal the secretion of digestive enzymes in the stomach. Mint assists with proper assimilation of nutrients from your food while providing an herbal boost to the immune system.
Traditional medicine relies on cissus to treat the effects of bone disease and improve the health of the skeletal joints. Cissus stimulates appetite and aids in digestion. Most notably, cissus is effective in stimulating the production of collagen, a vital component of healthy joints and bones. Add dried, ground cissus powder to your morning cereal to take advantage of this superfood.
The Final Word
You can supplement with herbs to support your nutrition. Health food stores sell encapsulated herb powders and liquid herbal extracts, allowing you to enjoy the medicinal value of herbs in a concentrated format. Supplements made with cissus or other herbs are an inexpensive and effective means of improving the nutrient value of your diet.
Jessica Peters is a freelance writer from Melbourne who blogs about food and recipes. Jessica is an avid traveler and regularly crosses the globe to learn about other cultures while blogging from her laptop.