Herbs Are Not Just For Color and Flavor
Adding herbs to one’s food is a great way to add culinary zest. But it’s also a good way to enhance the nutritional value of your food. In addition to enticing flavors, many herbs contain potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Aromatic Mediterranean natives, such as rosemary, oregano and thyme, for instance, contain numerous compounds that have undergone scientific scrutiny in recent years. Even parsley—which many Americans think of as little more than culinary window dressing—contains a number of healthful compounds, including some that surely help fight cancer.
Parsley is in the same family as broccoli and cauliflower, and these cruciferous vegetables have a well-deserved reputation for combating cancer and other diseases. Their signature compounds, called glucosinolates, include compounds that have been shown to fight tumor cell growth and proliferation in the laboratory.
As another example, oregano contains, at last count, more than 450 compounds. Dozens of these have been identified as anti-inflammatory chemicals. Like common aspirin, they help put the brakes on inflammation in the body. Interestingly, inflammation is considered to be a common condition that underlies many common chronic diseases, not least cardiovascular disease. Although we fear cancer deeply, heart disease remains our number one killer. Next week I’ll talk more about some of the many culinary spices and herbs you can incorporate into your cooking to enhance your health and nutrition.
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