Normally, when food is being prepared in homes, the aroma that fills the air allows our digestive system to kick into gear, starting with the process of salivation so that by the time we eat, the rest of the digestive processes flow more freely. That’s also one more reason why home-cooked meals are not only tastier, but healthier.
Fresh herbs add flavor and nutritional value to our food. It also makes food more interesting and transforms ordinary meals into extraordinary ones. Herbs also account for the cultural identity of many dishes. Dried herbs bring along gorgeous flavours and nutritional value as well and certainly have their place in the culinary world, but fresh herbs have higher anti-oxidant levels.
Cooking with fresh herbs can be useful when one has to cut back on salt, fat and sugar because of health reasons. Culinary herbs are high in disease-fighting anti-oxidants. Studies have shown that adding fresh herbs to a meal significantly boosts the nutritional value by providing the body with an additional source of anti-oxidants.
It is important to understand the value of anti-oxidants before you grasp the value of adding herbs to food. Anti-oxidants are a group of compounds that help prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke and also have anti-aging benefits.
List of Nine Culinary Herbs known for Anti-Cancer Properties:
- Basil: It boasts with an impressive 53 cancer-preventing compounds.
- Chives: It contains 22 compounds that prevent initial cancer development, 16 that support anti-oxidant effects on the human body, 12 anti-inflammatory compounds and 10 compounds that indirectly decreases blood pressure. The flowers are great for garnishing
- Dill: It has 47 cancer-prevention compounds. It compliments tuna salad, omelets, carrots, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, in yogurt dressing for cucumbers, herb vinegars and cottage cheese
- Mint: Mint contains top cancer preventative compounds namely Vitamin C, Beta Carotene and others.
- Oregano: Oregano has the highest anti-oxidant activity out of 27 fresh culinary herbs. It contains 48 compounds for cancer prevention
- Parsely: It aids digestion. It is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and is a source of Vitamin K. It contains folic acid which decreases the risk of cancer
- Rosemary: It stops the gene mutations that could lead to cancer and decreases the risk of heart disease by preventing damage to the blood vessels
- Sage: it enhances memory, and prevents memory loss and dementia. It is believed to help clear the head, calm the mind and make studying a little easier. It has anti-oxidant properties which help prevent some cancers and cleanses the body of free radicals
- Thyme: It boasts 50 compounds that prevent cancer
Fast Facts about Herbs:
While buying herbs, they must look good, the stems firm, the brightly colored leaves must be intact, no bruising, torn or discolored leaves.
If picking from the garden: best picked early morning, after the dew has dried but before the sun gets hot. This helps to ensure best flavor and storage quality.
With such an impressive list of health benefits, cooking with fresh herbs has the capacity not only to be more interesting, but more beneficial to our all-round health. Enjoy this new adventure.