Summer herbs offer delicious flavor and impressive health bonuses

1:50 AM, Jul 20, 2013   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- Integrative and complementary therapies are resurrecting herbs and their healing properties to help our health. Susan Moores, RD Kowalski's Markets Nutritionist shows us five herbs growing in many summer gardens, their healthful properties and ideas for enjoying their tasty flavor. 

BASIL

Health benefits:

An antioxidant. One of its compounds (eugenol) blocks enzymes in your body that trigger pain.  Basil has substances that may lower stress hormones circulating in the body, such as cortisol.

In the kitchen: 

Basil is a natural in Mediterranean dishes including pasta and tomato recipes.  Slip into sandwiches instead of lettuce.  Use it to make pesto.  Add bits of basil to fruited desserts - strawberries, peaches and lemons are natural companions.

 

OREGANO

Health benefits:

Anti-inflammatory action.  Anti-bacterial properties.  Substances in oregano can kill or stall the growth of some types of bacteria that cause food poisoning.

In the kitchen:  Perfect in Italian and Latin dishes. It's great as a rub for grilled meats. Add it to salad dressings, sauces, rice and bean dishes. Rubbing the leaves between your fingers releases its oils and maximum flavor.

 

PARSLEY

Health benefits:

Contains apigenin, an antioxidant that helps fight inflammation and boosts the activity of other antioxidants. Good source of vitamin C and K, iron and lutein, a phytonutrient that is beneficial for aging eyes. Helps freshen breath and keep blood from "clumping" in blood vessels. 

In the kitchen:  Pairs perfectly with eggs, potatoes, pastas and soups.  The stalks have a stronger flavor than the leaves.  Flat-leaf parsley is more richly flavored than its curly cousin.

 

ROSEMARY

Health benefits:

Contains compounds that block the formation of harmful substances (heterocyclic amines -- HCAs) that can form on meats during grilling. Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Smelling rosemary may enhance thinking skills. 

In the kitchen:  Strip the leaves from the stalk before using. Excellent in baked goods, paired with meat, poultry and fish.  Use in a marinade for grilled foods to keep them healthful on the heat. Place sprigs into a pitcher of lemonade for delicious summery drink.

 

THYME

Health benefits: 

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions.  May aid digestion. Using thyme in syrups, teas and tinctures may ease bronchitis and coughing fits.  Thymol, the oil found in thyme, is a powerful antiseptic. It can also lower the level of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth.

In the kitchen:  Classic partner for chicken, turkey, fish and potatoes. Add to any vegetable salad.  Wonderful complement to stone fruits such as peaches and nectarines as well as citrus fruits.

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