Regardless of cuisine, herbs help boost many of our dishes by adding more flavor and texture to them. But that’s not all because apparently, they are rich sources of health benefits, too!
Many herbs are carrying an impressive nutritional profile and we may be ignoring them because we don’t know it! In this article, we’ve rounded up the healthiest herbs on the planet and what are they good for.
So, if you’re curious about what herbs do for your health, read on. We didn’t just gather the best, we’ve also included their health benefits and some tips on how you can use them!
What are Herbs?
Herbs are plants that contain aromatic or savory properties. They can be used in various ways: as a food flavoring, fragrance, and even as a natural medicine.
Herbs, however, are only used and taken in smaller quantities just like spices, providing additional taste rather than substance to dishes.
How are Herbs Different from Spices?
Many people confuse herbs with spices. While both are rich sources of health benefits, it is still essential to know how they differ from each other.
Distinguishing which belongs to what category depends on the part of the plant where they came from.
Herbs pertain to the leaves or flowering parts of the plant, while spices are produced from the plant’s other elements such as the seeds, roots, bark, and twigs.
Some examples of spices include cinnamon, which is derived from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees. Allspice, otherwise called the myrtle pepper or pimenta, is a dried berry that is also used as a spice.
Cardamom is also an example of spice, made from the seeds of various plants that came from the Amomum and Elettaria genera.
Another determining factor is their form of consumption. Spices are always used in their dried form, whereas herbs can be consumed dried or fresh.
Healthiest Herbs on the Planet to Add to Your Diet
Now it’s time to reveal the healthiest herbs to grow in your garden and add to your dishes! Grab a pen and paper or your phone and start making notes!
Basil is an herb that is native to tropical regions of Southeast Asia, and Africa, and countries such as China, and India. It is a common herb used in various cuisines but is essentially used in many Italian dishes.
Health Benefits of Basil
Basil is beneficial for your health as it helps balance the electrolyte levels in your body.
This beautiful herb also promotes dental, bone and heart health, improves blood clotting function, and reduces the symptoms of anemia.
Aside from these, basil also contains antioxidant properties that help enhance one’s health.
How to Use Basil
Basil can be found in many Italian seasonings. It also makes a great addition to your pasta, white meats, and stir-fries.
It’s essential to note though that basil must be placed just before eating as cooking may ruin its natural flavor and nutrients.
Celery is another nutrient-dense herb that can be incorporated into soups and salads. Its tender leaves and crispy stalk almost look the same as the coriander.
Several countries are cultivating celery for its seeds, which are known to be dense in nutrients and health benefits.
Health Benefits of Celery
Celery was used for centuries to treat various ailments such as arthritis and edema.
It also helps fight the occurrence of such and many other health conditions such as urinary tract infections, painful ulcers, and even cancer.
How to Use Celery
You can consume celery raw or add it to your soups, casseroles, and stews. You can also use celery to garnish your dishes.
Cilantro, otherwise known as coriander, is native to Southern Europe, Southwest Asia, and North Africa. Its seeds, stems, and leaves are used to add flavor to savory dishes.
It is also known to contain certain chemicals that help maintain the freshness of foods.
Health benefits of Cilantro
Among the excellent health benefits of cilantro is its ability to lower high blood pressure, promote better sleep, and boost cardiovascular health.
It is also known to relax agitated nerves, and alleviate anxiety, and get rid of bad breath.
How to Use Cilantro
Cilantro is best added to guacamoles, salsas, and marinades together with lime and lemons.
Lemongrass is native to tropical regions such as Southeast Asia as well as in India, and the Pacific Ocean. Its citrus taste makes it a great addition to gravies, teas, and soups.
The aroma of lemongrass also helps keep insects and pests away.
Health Benefits of Lemongrass
Lemongrass helps relieve anxiety, lower cholesterol and fight fungal infections such as thrush. It also helps detoxify the body, relieves gastritis, promotes healthy skin, and boost weight loss.
How to Use Lemongrass
Just like the other herbs, you can also use lemongrass in various ways. You can make a lemongrass iced tea, paste, and oil, and even a mosquito repellent using the herb!
Oregano, otherwise known as the Wild Marjoram, is a Mediterranean herb that belongs to the mint family.
The herb is widely used in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. Compared to freshly plucked oregano, its dried form has a much stronger taste.
Health Benefits of Oregano
Oregano contains powerful antioxidant, antibacterial, antiparasitic, and antifungal properties.
It also prevents urinary tract infections and swelling that is commonly associated with tissue trauma. It also helps relieve pain, and promote faster healing.
How to Use Oregano
You can add oregano to many tomato-based dishes and baked goods or make a homemade herb bread.
You can also season your pizza, fish, and meats with oregano, add it to your stews and soups or use it to create a Greek salad dressing.
Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region and is a popular ingredient in Mediterranean, American, and European cuisines. There are three varieties of parsley: Crispum, Neapolitanum, and Tubersum.
The most common parsley used in most dishes is the Crispum variety, which is usually added to various dishes to boost its color and texture.
Health Benefits of Parsley
More than just a decorative herb, parsley contains vital nutrients that help promote good health. It aids in the regulation of the immune system, reduces swelling and pain, and prevents bad breath.
Parsley also helps avoid menstrual cramps, fight various diseases, and reduce your risk of cancer.
How to Use Parsley
You can chop fresh parsley and sprinkle it over your salads, pasta dishes, and pizzas or add some to your burgers and sandwiches. You can also incorporate some of this fresh herb into your pesto sauce.
Among the healthiest herbs are chives, which can be found in many European and Asian countries as well as in North America. In other regions, chives are called spring onions.
This herb also blooms with edible purple flowers between the months of May and June.
Health benefits of Chives
Chives contain essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, and K, and folate, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Due to the vitamin K that it contains, chives promote bone health as it helps keep bone density and integrity.
It also contains choline, an essential nutrient that promotes quality sleep. Belonging to the allium family of veggies, chives are also found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
How to Use Chives
Chives are fairly easy to add to your diet. You can incorporate them into scrambles, omelets, frittatas, and quiches.
Peppermint is a cross breed between spearmint and watermint. It is native to the Middle East and Europe but is cultivated in many parts of the world. This herb contains a fresh aroma and minty flavor.
Health benefits of Peppermint
Among the benefits of peppermint is its ability to ease a sore throat and headache, prevent bloating and the risk of colonic spasm, and suppress the symptoms of tuberculosis.
Peppermint also helps cure gastritis, fight a hangover, and prevent the risk of prostate cancer.
How to Use Peppermint
Peppermint can get rid of rodents in your house!
You can plant peppermint in your garden to keep pests away. It is also a delicious addition to savory and sweet dishes, salad dressings, iced drinks, and – let’s not forget – chocolates!
Rosemary herb also belongs to the mint family and is native to the Mediterranean region as well. It is popular for its ability to survive drought and laudable sturdiness.
Its strong aroma also helps keep insects away. Aside from its culinary use, rosemary is also cultivated for decorative and ornamental purposes.
Health Benefits of Rosemary
Rosemary supports fetal growth and prevents birth defects, combats stress, prevent inflammation, and sharpen memory and brain function.
This herb also helps get rid of cellulite, alleviate a headache, and promote faster healing. On top of these, rosemary also contains antioxidant, antidepressant, and anti-cancer properties.
How to Use Rosemary
Due to the woodsy flavor that it contains, rosemary is an ideal herb for various roasted meats such as pork, chicken, and salmon. You can also mix it into sauces or blend it with spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
Thyme is an aromatic perennial herb that is best cultivated in places that are rich in well-drained soil and sunlight. Its unique aroma is attributed to a compound known as Thymol.
This evergreen herb is used for its medicinal, ornamental, and culinary purposes.
Health Benefits of Thyme
Thyme helps in the regulation of normal blood pressure, and in keeping electrolyte levels at bay. It is also a known antiseptic and anti-depressant.
Thyme also helps boost immunity, improve mood, and treat a sore throat and cough.
How to Use Thyme
You can add thyme to vegetable dishes, beans, and eggs. It also blends perfectly with parsley and bay seasoning.
The healthiest herbs on earth do not simply add texture, color, and flavor to your dishes but can help improve your health, too. Now that you know what are the best herbs to take daily, it’s time to get busy in the kitchen!