Herb gardens don't require a ton of effort and the benefits are absolutely worth it. How great would it be to have an abundant supply of herbs available at your fingertips? (It's the best, take my word for it). Along with convenience, growing your own herbs can save you a significant amount of money. Fresh herbs can be crazy expensive, with a single small container often costing $3 to $5 in many grocery stores. Herbs add fresh flavor and vibrant green color to your dishes, but more importantly, they have incredible health benefits.
Now let's talk health.
When herbs sit on grocery store shelves for extended periods of time, they often lose their nutritional value. If you grow them at home, this will never be a concern. Herbs have antibacterial and antiviral properties and many are high in B-vitamins and trace minerals. Most herbs also contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. You might be surprised at how nutrient-dense herbs can be. Below are some examples of my favorites along with their nutritional benefits.
Basil has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and can help prevent osteoarthritis. Basil has been used in digestive disorders and is being studied for its anti-cancer properties.
Holy Basil helps fight infections and boosts immunity. Not to be confused with regular basil or thai basil, holy basil is considered a sacred herb in India. Studies show that holy basil can inhibit the growth of a range of bacteria, yeasts and molds. Holy basil is also linked to reduced blood sugar levels before and after meals, as well as treating anxiety and anxiety-related depression.
Mint has traditionally been used to calm digestive troubles and alleviate nausea. Many people enjoy a tea made from peppermint or spearmint leaves. Externally, the oil or tea can be used to repel mosquito.
Oregano leaves contain antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer and antibiotic properties. It is extremely high in antioxidants and has demonstrated an1timicrobial properties against food-borne pathogens like Listeria. Its oil and leaves are used medicinally in treatment of cough, fever, congestion, body ache and illness.
Rosemary has a high concentration of the antioxidant carnosol and research shows it may have benefits in cancer treatment and healthy digestion. Rosemary is also known to help prevent allergies and nasal congestion,
Thyme contains thymol, a potent antioxidant. Water boiled with thyme can be added to bathwater for treatment of wounds. Teas made with thyme have been used to treat athletes foot and vaginal yeast infections. Thyme tea can also be taken internally during illness to speed recovery.
Sage is known to help improve brain function and memory, especially in people with Alzheimer's disease. Studies have also shown that sage can improve memory function in healthy people, both young and old. Sage had a strong reputation for its healing properties during the middle ages, and was even used to help prevent the plague.
Chives contain many unique flavonoid anti-oxidants, plant fiber, minerals, and vitamins that have proven health benefits. Chives are enriched with essential vitamins such as vitamin C, and K, in fact; chives are one of the richest sources of vitamin K.
Parsley is an excellent of vitamin K and vitamin C as well as a good source of vitamin A, folate and iron. Parsley's volatile oil components include myristicin, limonene, eugenol and alpha-thujene. Its flavonoids include apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol and luteolin.
Cilantro is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. It is also rich in many vital vitamins, including folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A, beta carotene, vitamin-C, which are essential for optimum health.
Herbs can be grown both indoor & outdoor, making them available year-round. Give it a try! Maybe you just need some encourage-mint (hehe). Start with two or three of your favorite tasting/visually pleasing herbs and reap the benefits -- you'll see how easy and rewarding it can be. Click here to learn how to preserve your herbs by freezing, drying, or turning them into herbal butters and vinegars.
As always, I'm here to answer any questions/talk all things food & health.
Have a happy & healthy week,