Does the Scent of Rosemary Spark Memories?
Rosemary is one of those aromatic herbs that literally grow like weeds in many areas of the Mediterranean. A hike through the countryside of Provence, for instance, is often enhanced by the pine-like aroma of wild rosemary and thyme, growing with abandon beside the trail.
The Mediterranean diet has received a great deal of (well-deserved) attention in recent years due to its proven benefits. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower incidence of heart disease, and it’s believed to be cancer-preventive. Much attention has focused on the fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil that characterize the diet. But fresh herbs are an important, often-overlooked, component of the diet, too. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an indispensable component of the famously healthy diet.
Like many of the important native herbs of the Mediterranean region, rosemary possesses potent antioxidant compounds, which have beneficial effects on human health. For example, a recent study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food examined the effects of varying amounts of dried rosemary powder added to the food of older adults (average age 75 years). Researchers concluded that people who consumed normal culinary amounts of rosemary did better on tests of memory than subjects who consumed an inactive substitute.
Other benefits attributed to rosemary include relief from the pain and stiffness of arthritis, and possible cancer-prevention activities. Studies even suggest that the mere aroma of rosemary can spark better cognitive function among Alzheimer’s disease patients.
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