Many people think of “tasteless” when they think of healthy food. But if you’ve been around the healthy food block, you’ll know that’s not necessarily true. In these cases, herbs are a chef’s secret! Mark Leather is here today to pass some of these secrets onto us.
Culinary herbs are used in food to add flavour. When used correctly, herbs can transform an average dish into something special. Whilst it can make food taste great, herbs have been used for centuries for their health benefits. We will go through 5 common herbs, list their known health benefits and popular dishes containing the herb.
Known as the ‘dragon herb’, Tarragon is native to Eastern Europe, Asia, India, North America & Mexico. Tarragon is commonly used in sauces and Mediterranean dishes including fish, lamb and poultry. It is known to reduce platelet adhesion to the walls of blood vessels, therefore helping to prevent blood clots which may lead to a stroke or heart attack. Tarragon is particularly rich in vitamins and minerals, notably iron which helps transport oxygen to cells in the human body.
Example dish including Terragon:
Botanically known in Greek as the “joy of the mountains”, Oregano can be found growing on the hills in the Mediterranean. Many variations of Oregano have been developed by us over many centuries, varying in taste from spicy to sweet. In reverse to herb trends, Oregano can contain more flavour dried than fresh.
The rise in popularity of pizza after World War II raised the popularity of oregano significantly. Used by the legendary Greek physician Hippocrates as an antiseptic, oregano is high in antioxidants, vitamin K (very useful in protecting your cardiovascular system), minerals, fibre and omega 3.
Example dish including Oregano:
A member of the mint family, Basil is an aromatic herb found in Asia. Basil is a common herb in many European and Asian dishes and is often known as the “king of herbs”. It is recommended that basil is applied to dishes fresh, as heat has a detrimental effect on its aromatic flavour.
Compounds found in Basil have rich antioxidant and antiviral properties which could even be used in the treatment of cancer. Similar to Tarragon, Basil is also known to reduce platelet adhesion against blood vessel walls. It is also traditionally used as a supplement to reduce stress.
Example dish including Basil:
Lemon Grass originates from Asia and has a subtle lemon flavour and aroma which goes well with soups, poultry and seafood. It is very popular in Europe and North America.
Lemon Grass is rich in Manganese which is needed to maintain bone health, helping to prevent related diseases such as Osteoporosis or Osteoarthritis. Manganese also assists the body absorption of vitamins such as vitamin E.
Example dish including Lemon Grass:
Originating in the Mediterranean and West Asia, Dill has a rich history dating back to the ancient Egyptians where it was found in the tomb of Amenhotep II. It has a tangy flavour which is often used on pickles. However it compliments a broader range of food including fish, lamb and salads.
Dill is particularly high in vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin which has numerous benefits for immunity, eyes, skin and bones.
Example dish including Dill:
The list of healthy herbs doesn’t end here. I hope we have opened your eyes to the many health benefits of introducing a range of herbs into your diet.
About the Author
Mark Leather is the Managing Director of Country Products, a UK based supplier of healthy snacks, fruit, nuts, ingredients and confectionery.
Oh, wow, all of these recipes look and sound deeeelicious! Which one will YOU be trying first?