Herbs are one of nature's many gifts to us. Abundant in variety, herbs
have been used for centuries for everything from enhancing the flavors
of food to healing ailments. Surely you're familiar with the more
common herbs, like basil or cilantro, but there are dozens of other herbs
that get overlooked every day at the market.
Here are five of our favorite herbs and the unexpected health benefits
that could come from adding them to your diet:
Turmeric: Easily available and inexpensive, turmeric is an herb found most commonly
in curries, and is a great addition to any seasoning for meats or vegetables.
Turmeric is unmistakable with its bright yellow-orange color. It grows
as a root and can be dried and crushed into a powder, making it an easy
addition to any dish. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory agents that help
reduce joint pain, and it is high in essential vitamins, especially B6.
It has also been widely renowned for its ability to alleviate pain from
heartburn and stomach aches, as well as help in the prevention heart disease,
diabetes and cancer.
Thyme: If you don’t already use this herb, its about time you did! Thyme
grows as a shrub and can be used in everyday cooking, either fresh or
dried. It is typically used as a seasoning in veggies, meats and even
soups, but you can also steep it with your favorite tea. It contains high
amounts of iron, potassium, manganese and the essential oil thymol, known
to have antiseptic and anti-fungal properties.
Adding thyme to your tea can help with common cold symptoms such as a cough
or sore throat. If you're looking to boost your immune system with
loads of vitamins, start incorporating thyme into your diet.
Lemongrass: Lemongrass is a part of the grass family and grows in long, rough stems.
It can be found year-round in your local grocery stores, however it may
require some extra scoping out since it isn't one of the more popular
or primary herbs. Not only does it have a fragrant lemon odor from the
chemical citral, it is also rich in folates, which are crucial for cell
division and DNA synthesis in our bodies. You can eat the stems cooked,
and they make a great addition to soups or Southeast Asian cuisine. You
can also dry the stems and crush them into powder, turning it into your
own poultry seasoning! Lemongrass is full of antioxidants, can help fight
off infection, and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. It can also help
lower cholesterol and diminish stress.
Dandelion: Yes, dandelion, as in the same dandelion that grows as a pesky weed throughout
your lawn. It may be a pest in your manicured yard, but it is a blessing
for your health! Every part of a this herb can be used, from the yellow
flower on top down to the roots. The leaves are low in calories and high
in fiber, and the flower can be used as a pain reliever for burns or stings.
Dandelions are superb for the digestive system and can help detoxify the
liver. This herb is loaded with vitamins -- notably vitamin K, which is
great for bone and heart health. Dandelion root tea can also help with
urinary tract infections and acts as a natural diuretic.
Tarragon: Popularly found in Mediterranean cuisine, tarragon is an herb we should
all be eating more often. It grows as a small shrub and is rich in essential
oils like estragole, cineol and eugenol. If you ever get toothaches, tarragon
can actually help minimize the pain! If you struggle with insomnia, drinking
it in tea can help you sleep better. It also consists of chemicals that
can increase the appetite for people who are elderly or ill. For women,
tarragon can also help ease painful menstruation and assist in your overall
reproductive health. Last but not least, it is high in potassium and vitamin
A, giving a lot of love to overall eye health.
Do you have any fun recipes that incorporate these healthy herbs? Or perhaps
there's another herb you've found beneficial to your health? Share
with us in the comments below!