I did some research for this article. When I tried to find the benefits of fresh herbs on the world wide web, I found many articles that talked about how to use herbs and how to plant them. Now these articles had titles that included the word “benefits”.
Now when I see the word “benefits”, I think I am going to learn why we should do something. I was surprised that the authors of these articles chose to share the when and how, but not the why. So here is the why on fresh herbs.
- Antioxidant properties
- Anti-inflammatory capabilities
- Fresh air, sunshine and fun
Now let’s look at these separately. Fresh herbs can be thought of as another leafy green vegetable. They are mild in flavor and can be added to many dishes. Fresh herbs, like leafy green vegetables, are full of vitamins A, C and K.
Antioxidants help to keep us healthy. If you want the more scientific explanation, you can read all about it on the Mayo Clinic website. The best sources of antioxidants are those naturally occurring in plant based foods including fresh herbs.
Fresh herbs that are high in antioxidants are rosemary, sage and oregano.
Inflammation in the body has a direct link to disease. Eating whole foods (one ingredient foods such as apples, oranges, cucumbers) and eliminating processed foods can decrease inflammation. Of course, that sounds simple, but can be very difficult.
Everyone has a different metabolism and food sensitivities can play a roll in inflammation. For example, turmeric is a spice that is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. However, I have a sensitivity to turmeric so the opposite happens when I eat any dish with this spice.
Fresh herbs that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties include rosemary, garlic, ginger and turmeric.
Fresh air, sunshine and fun
Using fresh herbs in your recipes can positively impact your health in many ways. One of the most important is the fresh air, sunshine and fun that you can have while taking care of your herbs. Never discount the importance of fresh air and sunshine in your life.
Now this, of course, only counts when you grow your herbs outside. If you grow them inside, you can still have fun. Fun is always a component to a happy, healthy life.
Get the whole family involved. Children love to help and can gain so much confidence when taking the responsibility for the herb garden. Everyone can pick a different herb to grow. Plant each herb in a different pot. It’s a great way to eat healthy, learn a new skill and make family memories.
This past Christmas, I was gifted a Click and Grow (*if you use this link, you will automatically save 10%). I grew basil, it was so easy. Everyone who came to visit, since I set it up, has loved checking on the progress of the little plants.
I used the basil to make some pesto. It was so good (pro tip ~ put fresh basil in your grilled cheese sandwiches, it will make a simple sandwich seem gourmet!). See below for the pesto recipe.
2 cups (38-40g if you prefer weighing) basil leaves (no stems)
2 tablespoons pine nuts (toast slightly in a pan first)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch of sea salt
squeeze of 1/4 lemon
*note – this recipe is very forgiving, you don’t have to follow these amounts too closely!
Combine basil leaves, pine nuts and garlic in food processor by pulsing until finely minced. Add the pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon. With the machine running, slowly pour the oil in and process until smooth. Store in the refrigerator for about 5 days or in the freezer for 6 months.
Herbs, herbs, herbs…grow them, buy them, use them! Your flavor buds and health will thank you. And, if you do get a Click and Grow please share your photos. Tag me on social media or send me photos here at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to see how you are using fresh herbs to enhance your meals.