Herbs are very good for us. Not only do they add various flavours to our food without piling on the calories, they have wonderful health benefits that many people are only just beginning to truly appreciate. A basic knowledge of how food can help to keep you healthy while eating brilliantly is key to the foundation of a truly healthy life. To help you decide which of the bewildering array of herbs to pick, here’s a list of 10 you shouldn’t be without:
Rosemary has been shown to boost memory and concentration. It also helps with muscle and joint pain when applied topically. It tastes great when added to hearty food like meat and potatoes.
Parsley is usually only seen as a garnish, and, as such, a lot of people don’t eat it. This is a shame, since it is rich in vitamin A and C, and is also high in antioxidants. It has been proved to help reduce high blood pressure. It works well with chicken dishes.
Ginger is a good anti-inflammatory and has been used topically to help to ease arthritis for centuries. When taken internally, it helps to ease gastrointestinal problems, from IBS to diarrhoea and nausea. Best of all, there are wonderful tasting desserts which call for ginger, making it a welcome – and tasty – addition to your kitchen.
Cinnamon is another anti-inflammatory, but it also has antibiotic properties. Like ginger, it is great for preventing and treating issues like diarrhoea and indigestion. It can also help to control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels in people suffering from type 2 diabetes. It also doesn’t have to be kept just for desserts. Using it as part of a glaze for roasts and vegetables can add a wonderful touch of heat.
Garlic helps to ease the symptoms of colds and flu, it helps relieve hypertension and is a great boost to the immune system. It tastes great in stews and soups of all kinds and is commonly found in Mediterranean cooking.
Stinging nettles reduce inflammation, particularly that associated with arthritis. They are also great for controlling dandruff and improving the overall health of your hair. It can be infused into a refreshing tea, along with being used in soups, pesto and polenta recipes.
Chives are rich in vitamins A and C and have been shown to reduce the risk of gastric cancer. While sprinkling chopped chives over salads and pasta is a great finishing touch, cooking with them is just as good, particularly when adding them to potato recipes.
Coriander has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, along with helping to reduce cholesterol levels. Add it to roasted vegetables or nourishing stews, or look at Indian and Thai meals.
- Bay leaves
Bay really comes into its own in the winter months. It contains an oil called cineole, which helps to ease the discomfort of blocked sinuses. It also boosts the immune system and can help to prevent heart disease. Bay leaves add a mild spice to stews, soups and sauces of all kinds, but should not be eaten whole, so remove them before serving.
Another unusual herb, dandelions are often overlooked as a herb. They are a natural mild diuretic, which make them useful for treating high blood pressure and liver and kidney issues. It makes a great tasting addition to salads, a wonderful infused vinegar, and a lovely after-meal tea.
There are thousands of other herbs that can be used. They are easily available and make for a great way to help to boost your health while tasting great.