Monday, September 27, 2010

Starting your own Herb Garden: Part 1

The Benefits of Fresh Herbs

There are so many benefits to growing your own herbs. You save money on store-bought fresh herbs, which tend to be overpriced, and home-grown always tastes better. Plus, with your own herb garden there's no realizing you don't have the spice you need halfway into cooking dinner. You just step outside and pick it! And, did you know that herbs are extremely good for you? According to the Nutrition Diva, ". . . ounce for ounce, fresh herbs like oregano, rosemary, parsley, and basil are among the most nutritious greens you can find." Besides vitamins and antioxidants, she adds that "herbs are also very rich in a wide range of disease-fighting phytochemicals. Almost all green herbs have potent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties." She also notes that, like fruits and vegetables, herbs are most potent and contain the most nutrients when they are freshly picked.

Some commonly used herbs and their benefits/uses

Basil: helps regulate blood pressure and prevent free-radical damage, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory

Chamomile: helps calm the nerves and promote sleep, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic

Cilantro: helps increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), promotes healthy liver function, helps reduce menstrual cramping, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant

Dill: helps neutralize carcinogens, high in calcium, antioxidant

Garlic: lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels, helps prevent blood clots and cancerous tumors, fights bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, and supports healthy heart function

Ginger: lowers cholesterol, stimulates blood circulation, helps relieve indigestion and joint pain, used as an expectorant

Oregano: high in iron and manganese, protects against and fights dysentery and is especially effective against Giardia, one of the most common intestinal infections caused by water parasites

Parsley: high in iron, folic acid, and vitamins A and C, antioxidant, antibacterial, diuretic

Peppermint: helps calm muscle spasms and relieve headache, nausea, and menstrual cramps, and gastrointestinal upset; used as a cough suppressant and decongestant

Rosemary: helps kill bacteria that cause infection, improve digestion, and clear congestion, may help prevent Alzheimer's disease, antioxidant

Sage: helps reduce digestive problems, sore throat, premenstrual cramps, and even excessive perspiration; lowers blood sugar, antibacterial

Thyme: helps protect against age-related change in the brain, high in manganese, antimicrobial

Pretty amazing, right? Next week, we'll get started on helping you plan and plant your own herb garden. Stay tuned.


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