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Three Healthy Herbs You Should Be Cooking With and Why: Basil, Oregano and Parsley

Updated on October 2, 2012

Easy to Use, Beneficial to You Health

Basil, Cilantro and Oregano are three herbs that are easy to access and often overlooked in everyday meals. Despite this, they are loaded with tons of nutrition and offer a great and easy way for you turn regular dishes into great dishes! (Or great dishes into greater dishes! Or they can at least give a redeeming characteristic to some horrible dishes. Sprinkle these herbs on your double cheeseburger from McDonalds or tear some leaves up into your ramen noodles.)

Whether you are looking to create a healthy diet or make yourself feel better about eating crap, these healthy and beneficial herbs are an easy addition and a tasty companion to most any meal you can create. Do yourself a favor and learn how these herbs; basil, cilantro and oregano offer a myriad of health benefits along with their tastiness.

The Herb Basil
The Herb Basil

Basil

Basil is a common herb used in many dishes from pesto's to curries. Very easy to grow or find in the store, the ease of purchasing basil also matches the ease of using the basil plant in everyday dishes. You can take fresh basil leaves and add them to your salad, throw them in with a stir fry or take processed basil and sprinkle on any pasta dish before eating. (Generally true of most herbs, you want to add this right before you are finished cooking a meal to maximize flavor potency.)

While the accessibility, affordability and tastiness are great reasons to use basil, the health benefits make this a herb you should try to add to every meal you can.

Basil Inhibits Bacterial Growth

Basil offers you a way to protect your body and your family's bodies from some of the dangerous bacteria that might unsuspectingly lurk in your meals. The oil in basil serves to restrict the growth of some dangerous pathogens such as Listeria, Staph Aureus (staph infections and some food poisoning), E. Coli and many many more.

Basil is a Great Source for Beta-carotene, Magnesium, Iron, and Vitamin C

Basil carries in it's leaves healthy doses of beta-carotene, an anti oxidant that can be converted to Vitamin A, another very useful antioxidant used by your body. Beta-carotene offers protection for your cells which can slow the signs of aging (doesn't mean you will stop aging) and from harmful cholesterol buildup. For the health benefits of Magnesium, Iron and Vitamin C, please follow their respective links.

Basil Helps Reduce Inflammation

Basil is often described as having anti-inflammatory capabilities due to the component eugenol found within basil leaves and also such plants such as dill, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon balm. Eugenol in basil works as an inhibitor to a particular enzyme that causes inflammation in the body. The benefit of said component in basil would include symptom relief from inflammatory diseases, simple inflammation of joints and because of the reduction of inflammation, faster healing times.

The Health Benefits of Basil

  • Basil offers protection from pathogens
  • Basil is a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  • Basil reduces inflammation

Other benefits of Basil include:

  • Natural insect repellant
  • Eases stomach discomfort
  • Easy to grow, purchase or use
  • Basil tastes delicious meals

Are you already familiar with the herb basil? Try some new things such as the variations of pesto available or try adding it to your next salad or stir fry. Basil never disappoints!

The Herb Cilantro
The Herb Cilantro

Cilantro

Cilantro is a herb of particular taste and most often people really enjoy using cilantro or they really don't care to use it all that much. Either way, both sides will want to use it more when they discover how cilantro is packed with nutrients and health benefits.

Cilantro, most often in the United States, is used in salsas, chutneys, ceviche and a large variety of ethnic foods. Just as easily as basil, you can find cilantro in the produce section of your grocery store or in the spice and herb aisle. With fresh cilantro herb, you want to try and use it within a week of purchasing because it loses flavor quickly. Easy to use, just add it to salads, seafood and any variety of foods you would want to add a lemony and grassy flavor to. Even if it didn't taste good, after learning about the healthy benefits of cilantro, you might add it anyway.

Cilantro Removes Dangerous Toxins

More particularly, Cilantro functions as a chelator, which simply means it has chemicals that can bind with dangerous heavy metals in the body (such as mercury) and render them harmless. What makes such toxins dangerous is that they will bind with important chemical receptors in the body and possibly cause neurological problems often associated with heavy metal poisoning. Once the chemicals in the cilantro herb render the metal harmless, it will eventually exit your body (chelation).

Cilantro Assists in Insulin Production

While this is hard scientific fact yet, Cilantro has been shown to increase insulin production in laboratory tests which then reduces blood sugar and the effects or chances of diabetes. While this is speculative in the human body, cilantro should still be considered even more in the diet of someone who might be at risk. So friend, welcome the salsa with extra cilantro!

Cilantro Protects Against Salmonella

Cilantro not only tastes delicious, but the herb is a proven antibacterial against the great threat of salmonella. A chemical in cilantro called dodecenal is the Salmonella killer but not even the only one. There are other chemicals that serve as antibiotics within cilantro that make it an even more potent threat against bacteria. This benefits cilantro users everywhere as it offers more protection from dangerous food borne illnesses that might survive without the presence of cilantro.

The Health Benefits of Cilantro

  • Cilantro detoxifies your body
  • Cilantro can protect you from diabets
  • Cilantro protects against salmonella

Other Benefits of Cilantro:

  • Great source of vitamins and minerals
  • Awesome source of vitamins and minerals
  • Phyto-nutrient dense
  • Serves as a fungicide (just rub it between your toes...mmmm....)

If you are not familiar with cilantro, be sure to give this healthy herb a shot at the dinner table. Adding a little to your salsas and seafood will not only create a better tasting meal, but a healthier one also!

The Herb Oregano
The Herb Oregano

Oregano

Oh Oregano! That delicious herb which makes our pizzas and pastas more delicious. But even more, oregano goes great with eggs, garlic bread, meaty entrees and salad dressings. You can easily find oregano in your produce section or in the herb aisle, where its abundance should make you grin.

As simple to use as basil and cilantro, oregano can be cooked with food or added afterwards for the greatest amount of flavor. Recipes with oregano abound and are actually easily prepared more often than not. If you are now asking, "What are the health benefits of oregano?" We can explore the oregano health benefits below.

Oregano is a Good Source of Fiber

Oregano offers a large fiber filled punch for its general serving size; two teaspoons can carry close to 7% of your daily recommended intake! This should make oregano a great fiber bulking supplement to any meal you can add it to. Why should you consider adding more fiber? Unless you enjoy long intense trips on the toilet, adding more fiber (and water) will help you pass those stools with more comfort. (P.S. Speaking of the potty, if you have ever dealt with those splashes that come from little poos, see this article: Public Toilet Helpful Hint, Splashback: There is a Way to Prevent That Splash

Oregano is a Great Source of Antioxidants

If you are not on board with the antioxidant bus, get on. Adding more foods loaded with antioxidants to your diet will not only make your diet healthier as a by-product, but the antioxidants found in such herbs as oregano will prevent cellular damage from dangerous little guys called 'free-radicals'. The benefits of oregano in your diet might include some slowed aging, cancer protection and various other things like lowered cholesterol and a healthier heart.

Oregano is a Good Source of Vitamins, Particularly Vitamin K

Oregano is nutrient dense and bursting at the seams with iron, manganese, calcium and Vitamin K. You might have come across vitamin K when you were a little baby fresh out of your mother's womb. Practitioners will inject infants with a dose of the vitamin to assist with blood clotting and protect against any excess bleeding. Along with assisting in healthy blood clotting, vitamin K assists in the development and maintaining of healthy bones. This can be particularly beneficial for women who might be at greater risk for osteoporosis or simply growing children who need all the help they can get in healthy growth. Give your body a hand and let oregano and its nutrient benefits give it a boost!

The Health Benefits of Oregano:

  • Oregano is a great source of fiber
  • Oregano is loaded with antioxidants
  • Oregano is rich in vitamin K and various other mineral and vitamins

Other Benefits of Oregano:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Neurological cell growth and maintenance
  • Can protect from cardiovascular disease

Don't just limit oregano to pizza. Include it on your salads, sandwiches or soups. If you are feeling frisky, throw it on an omelet with the other herbs and see what sort of taste adventures you can go on!

Create a Healthy Diet

With all the resources available now days online and in great magazines, the only excuse for not finding ways to create a healthy diet are if you are dumb, deaf and blind. Take fifteen minutes, google some healthy recipes and you will find out how easy it is to begin creating and customizing your own healthy diet options!

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    • profile image

      Anastasiq 

      3 years ago

      There's a great site that can help answer every qusoeitn you have about herbs and spices called Instructables. Excellent site for newbies even oldies! Tells you which ones to use with which items, dry vs fresh, storage very comprehensive. Another quick and easy one is on Gomestic. Lots of other good sites out there, too.

    • profile image

      Mildred 

      3 years ago

      Heck yeah bayb-ee keep them coming!

    • profile image

      Flickr 

      6 years ago

      Great hub, I enjoy reading and learning about medicinal plants. It's a very educational hub, thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      whitney b. 

      6 years ago

      Chris,

      Thanks for this info. I'm an extreme herb fan and this puts it in perspective!

      An old friend,

      W.b

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      6 years ago from the short journey

      Loaded with detail, this is a solid look at herbs we should be cooking with. Thanks for putting this together so well!

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Lovely formatting, high quality Hub. Thanks! Voted up.

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 

      6 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      This is an awesome hub! I love all these herbs but never the information you have shared here about them. Thank you for this informative well written hub!

      Voted up.

    • CookiesNoCrumbs profile image

      CookiesNoCrumbs 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Millercl great information thanks for sharing

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