Speaking of Culinary Herbs
As you probably know, too much salt in the diet has been linked to the risk of developing high blood pressure. Of course, not everyone is affected equally by salt in the diet. And it shouldn’t be avoided entirely, since it supplies the essential nutrients sodium and chloride. But for some folks, too much of this good thing can cause problems. High blood pressure often precedes heart disease. In fact, for most of us the real challenge is avoiding too much. Salt is added to virtually any and all packaged or processed foods, and especially, fast food. So, if blood pressure is a concern, it may be necessary to limit your intake of this mineral.
One strategy for cutting back on salt is to kick up your use of culinary herbs and spices. Adding more herbs to your diet is a two-for-one proposition: While helping you cut back on sodium, by boosting flavor without adding salt, you’re also adding important, and often overlooked, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds into your diet.
This week I’m talking about the culinary and medicinal properties of herbs. Today, let’s talk turkey. Soon many Americans will be roasting a big bird for dinner. For lots of people that will involve using an ancient culinary herb that otherwise gets little attention: sage.
Like other beneficial aromatic plants, such as rosemary and thyme, sage has long been used both as a culinary and medicinal herb. Anyone who’s ever savored a roast chicken or turkey cooked with sage will understand the culinary appeal. But what about the medicinal part? As it turns out, sage’s reputation for healing is well deserved.
Sage is a Mediterranean native with essential oils that have antibiotic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Sage can be used for everything from curing toenail fungus to preserving meat (although, preferably, not at the same time). Or try stuffing a few fresh leaves under the skin of the next bird you roast. Alternate with thinly sliced whole lemon for distinctly Mediterranean-style flavor and irresistible scent.
Chohan M1, Naughton DP, Jones L, Opara EI. An investigation of the relationship between the anti-inflammatory activity, polyphenolic content, and antioxidant activities of cooked and in vitro digested culinary herbs. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:627843. doi: 10.1155/2012/627843. Epub 2012 May 21.
Opara EI1, Chohan M2. Culinary Herbs and Spices: Their Bioactive Properties, the Contribution of Polyphenols and the Challenges in Deducing Their True Health Benefits. Culinary Herbs and Spices: Their Bioactive Properties, the Contribution of Polyphenols and the Challenges in Deducing Their True Health Benefits.