Organic herbs picked fresh from the garden are truly wonderful. They add an enormous burst of flavour and can completely transform your dishes. They also offer a low calorie way to upgrade a dish without compromising on health (unlike other additives like salt). They are also incredibly versatile; you can use them as a topping (for example on pastas or pizzas
), you can powder them and add them to dishes like smoothies or cereal bowls, or you can boil them and drink them as a tea. Don't forget to check out Varun Venaik
While many people are familiar with the flavour and taste related benefits of herbs, their health benefits are often overlooked in today’s society, despite that they have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal properties. In this article I’m going to outline the health benefits of eight commonly used herbs.
8 Health Boosting Herbs
There are over 50 varieties of basil, although sweet basil is the one that is most commonly used and the type of basil you are most likely to find in your supermarket.
Most people associate basil with pesto or as a topping for margarita pizza. However basil also has a range of health benefits. Basil has protective polyphenols, which are compounds with powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cholesterol lowering properties. Polyphenols can be beneficial for battling serious health conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. The antioxidants in basil can also help fight free radicals in our bodies that may otherwise have the potential to increase risks of cancer and heart disease, among other health conditions.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Tulsi (which is known as holy basil and is native to Southeast Asia) has been found to improve mental health and reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.
Lavender isn’t often consumed but is often made into oils and other fragrances. Most commonly, lavender appears to be used by those who struggle with insomnia. If you have trouble sleeping, sprinkle a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow to help facilitate a better night’s sleep. Lavender may also provide some benefits for those who struggle with anxiety and other mental health issues – it is often sold in capsules that can be taken to help alleviate anxiety and depression symptoms.
Like basil, sage also has a slew of protective polyphenols which bring about all the benefits noted above. Sage is also very high in vitamin K and is also rich in several important minerals like magnesium, zinc and copper. Sage also has a number of antibacterial and antimicrobial qualities and has been used to kill mouth plaque or treat cold sores.
If you’ve ever had a mint or spearmint tea after a big meal that has left you bloated, you’ll be very familiar with the stomach-soothing effects of this herb. Mint has been used for thousands and thousands of years to help with indigestion and other gastrointestinal issues including IBS or nausea. Peppermint is often consumed as a tea, but you can get the same benefits by taking a peppermint oil.
Parsley is one of the easiest herbs to grow and also has a number of important health benefits. Like sage, parsley is high in vitamin K (with a single tablespoon providing over 70% of the recommended daily intake or RDI).
Vitamin K is great for bone health and can promote stronger and more robust bones. Parsley also contains impressive amounts of vitamin C and A, which can help fight common colds, boost immunity and improve eye health.
Some people categorise chives as a vegetable but I’m firmly in the herb camp – in my opinion, chives are extremely underrated, not just for their taste (which is wonderfully garlicky) but also for their health benefits. Chives contain a significant amount of vitamin A and vitamin K, as well as antioxidants that can improve heart and bone health and reduce inflammation. Chives also contain choline which is a nutrient that can assist with enhancing mood, muscle control and memory.
Lemon balm is the underdog of herbs – although it is less commonly consumed, its benefits are vast. Like lavender, lemon balm can help with improving mood and reducing anxiety and stress and can also improve sleep. Lemon balm is often sold in a capsule form, but I love picking the leaves straight from my garden and using it that way. Like mint, lemon balm can also help relieve indigestion and nausea symptoms – I’d encourage you to try a lemon balm tea when you’re next feeling bloated or full, I can guarantee you’ll feel significantly better after it!
Rosemary aromas can assist with improving concentration and other cognitive skills such as concentration, memory and alertness. Rosemary is also rich in manganese, which is an important nutrient that helps metabolic health. Like other herbs, rosemary is also a good source of antioxidants and anti-inflammation compounds which can improve immunity. Rosemary oil has also ben used to treat scalp issues such as dandruff and itchy dry scalps.
I hope this article has encouraged you to start thinking about introducing more herbs into your diet. Even better, I hope you are feeling inspired to start growing your own organic herbs in order to reap the vast number of flavour and health related benefits that they offer. Herbs are incredibly easy to grow and you don’t need a lot of space at all – so they’re a great gateway to starting your own organic paradise.
Below are some pictures of some herbs from my garden!