Before irrigation, refrigeration and worldwide shipping, we had to eat what was available around us. That naturally led to a varied diet. Every few weeks or months, as the weather changed and the plants and animals came and went, you would be eating something different.
Do You Have Nutrient Deficiencies?
Variety is missing in our diet these days. And that’s not good because that means you are getting the same nutrient profile with each repeat meal that you eat.
If you eat kale to the exclusion of other leafy greens, you are getting a certain profile of minerals and vitamins and plant chemicals (antioxidants, alkaloids, etc). Your body will become deficient in the nutrients that the kale does not provide.
Health Benefits of Culinary Herbs:
When it comes to leafy greens, you should include culinary herbs. Not only are they flavorful, but they are nutrient-dense, including valuable antioxidants and mineral profiles that you can’t find in many other foods.
Many herbs also have antimicrobial and immune-supportive effects, which is so important in this age of overburdened immune systems!
It’s a good idea to incorporate these herbs into your daily diet because the health benefits can add up significantly over time.
General bit of cooking advice before we begin: Don’t be so worried about “pairing” herbs correctly or measuring them precisely. Just grab a bunch of whatever herb you like the taste of, and throw it in the pot. It’ll be fine.
Okay, we can continue now…
1. Basil: Basil is very high in vitamin K – the blood clotting vitamin – 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil contains almost 30% of the RDA! But be careful with vitamin k if you are taking blood-thinning medication. This herb tastes delicious in both sweet and savory meals. You can add it to smoothies, desserts and salads – as a salad green! My favorite way to eat basil though is in a cantaloupe smoothie! Recipe here.
2. Thyme: Thyme contains volatile oils that are known for their antiviral and antispasmodic qualities. This implies that thyme is useful for easing a cough and taming a viral infection. To incorporate thyme into your diet, and benefit from these qualities, you can use thyme in your cooking, or make an herbal tea. To make the tea, steep 4-5 sprigs of thyme in a mug filled with boiling water for 5 minutes and add a bit of raw honey to sweeten. In cooking, thyme is generally used in savory dishes. I always add several sprigs of thyme to soup or a crockpot meal, a habit I picked up from my mother.
3. Sage: Sage has been said to balance women’s hormones and ease hot flashes. It is also used in ceremonial house clearings – the dried leaves are bundled and burned ceremoniously to clear the energy of a space. You can make a tea from sage, just like making tea from thyme. In cooking, sage pairs really well with winter squashes and chicken, but you can add it to any savory soup, main dish or dressing.
4. Rosemary: Rosemary is a good source of vitamin c and b vitamins and minerals, especially iron. It also has strong anti-inflammatory and antifungal volatile oils. Traditionally, rosemary has been used as a remedy for headaches, colds and depression. I add a sprig to soups along with the thyme. You can also chop it up and sprinkle it raw on top of your main course.
5. Oregano: This is a powerfully antimicrobial and antifungal herb. Generally, the more pungent and flavorful a plant tastes, the more antioxidant and antimicrobial compounds it contains. Oregano has a very strong, spicy and pungent flavor! I have recently gotten into the habit of sprinkling dried oregano onto everything – salads, soups, meat, etc. Fresh oregano would be great too, and I’ll probably switch to that now that my oregano plant is thriving out on the balcony. Oregano also has antifungal compounds, which is why I use the essential oil of oregano on my feet to combat and prevent any potential candida infections!
6. Parsley: Whenever I think of parsley, I can’t help but think of the breath-freshening quality. You know that sprig of parsley they put on the dish at the restaurant? Apparently that comes from an old tradition of using parsley as a breath freshener after a meal. You’re supposed to chew on it when you’re finished eating! Parsley is also known for purifying the blood. It’s got a subtle flavor and can be added to smoothies, salads and soups.
7. Cilantro: I’ve been using cilantro in smoothies – it goes well with berries and melon. I also add it to salads and salsa. It’s high in antioxidants and some people say it has skin-clearing and weight loss effects.
I have to say something about heavy metal chelation… Some health “experts” claim that cilantro, in combination with chlorella, will detox the body of heavy metals. There are scientists who say that the chelating compounds in cilantro do not stay intact long enough to bind the metals for the duration of their elimination from the body. In fact, they will pull them out into the bloodstream and usually “drop” them there, which is shocking and damaging to the body. It’s not a big deal in people who don’t have a serious heavy metal problem, but if you do, please be careful with the cilantro and chlorella. An entire post on heavy metal chelation is coming soon…
8. Mint: Mint is a natural breath freshener, of course. It’s also full of antimicrobial compounds like the other herbs listed above. But what I like most about mint is how it relieved so much discomfort from herxing during my Chronic Lyme treatments… The smell and taste provided relief from nausea. The essential oil of mint relieved minor headaches and woke me up when I was feeling fatigued and sleepy. And, mint tea would help relieve cravings for sweets when mixed with a little stevia. I use mint in salads, smoothies and fresh herbal teas.
Grow Your Own Herbs
Herbs are difficult to grow from seeds, because they take so long to reach harvesting stage. It’s hard for most of us to wait and be patient for several months while they grow. And you have to get the sunlight and water schedule just right. I usually just pick up the potted herbs from the market in spring and transplant them into pots. Then I can start harvesting within a few days.
Which herbs are you already using on a regular basis?
How do you prepare them?
Please leave a comment and share your thoughts!
Keep taking back your health,