Herbs

Diet plays an important and vital role in the healthy growth of a person. Such healthy growth is possible only when the diet provides the required amount of energy (carbohydrates, proteins and fat), vitamins and minerals.

Based on the preferences and taboos, every group of human habitants have been following peculiar and different kinds of foods. The food choice also is based on cultural and ethical reasons.

Dietary choices of people are different based on the origin of the diet. Many humans adopt non-animal origin diets due to health and moral grounds. People are classified as flexitarians, vegetarians, vegans and fruitarians based on acceptance of animal sources of diet.

All the above types of persons need to maintain a healthy body throughout their life. Irrespective of the type of diet preferred, herbs can be included by all types of people in their everyday diet deriving the rich nutrient benefits from the herbs, to ensure healthy growth of the body and to maintain optimal health of the body at all times.

There are many herbs that are of local origin and imported varieties in every geographical area. Due to the advent of free trade all over the world and exchange of goods and services between different nations, all the herbs can be sourced by those wanting them without much difficulty.

Each herb provide a predominant health benefit in addition to many other benefits derived from them. Examples of some such herbs are:  Rosemary for heart health, parsley for hypertension, ginger for gastrointestinal health, cinnamon for stable blood sugar, garlic for cholesterol reduction/prevention and cancer prevention, stinging nettle for joint pain, chives for cancer protection, coriander for bad cholesterol, bay leaves for sinus relief, dandelion for digestion, basil to cure nausea, borage for increasing breast milk, turmeric as antiseptic and so on. While the health benefit of each herb can be discussed at length, some of the herbs that can be included in the daily diet with their nutrient value and usage is outlined here.

Best herbs to be included in an adult’s diet

The nutrient values mentioned are for 100 gm. of the herb in consumable form.

Basil

Contains vitamin – A 175% RDA (Recommended Daily Amount), Vitamin C 345%, iron 40%, Manganese 57% and many other nutrients. It has anti-infective properties.  It is used in preparation of soups and side dishes and salads. Eugenol is an important essential oil from this herb which has anti-inflammatory properties used to cure nausea.

health benefits of basil

Borage

Contains vitamin – A140%, vitamin –C 60%, iron 41% and many nutrients. It is especially helpful in increasing breast milk in lactating mothers.  It is added to salads and mixed with other vegetables like beans, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. Borage juice is also consumed. Borage tea is a refreshing beverage prepared from the dry leaves as the normal tea.

Celery

It has high fiber content with a number of other nutrients. Celery is used in soups and sauces and to garnish recipes. The plant is used after removing the outer rough skin of the middle stem and after removing the root.

Fresh celery cabbage
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Lemongrass

Contains manganese 228%, iron 102% and other vitamins and minerals. It is also a high calorie food providing 99 calories in 100 gm. This herb is generally used as a flavoring agent in non-vegetarian dishes. It is also used in soups and pickles and as an herbal tea.

Peppermint

Contains vitamin A 141%, vitamin C 53%, Iron 63% and other vitamins and minerals.  It is used to prepare chutney, soup and sauces. It is particularly used to garnish along with parsley and coriander leaves, added to green salads, flavoring ice creams and confectioneries.

Mint
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Oregano

It is an excellent source of potassium with 1260 mg 35%, iron 550%, calcium 158%, manganese 203%, dietary fiber 107%, vitamin A 230%, vitamin E 126%, copper 105%, vitamin C 83%, folate 69% and pyridoxine 69%. The herb increases digestive power. It is used as a spice and a seasoning to enhance flavor. Oregano can also be used in fruit salads, soups and sauces. It is antiseptic, carminative, stimulant, expectorant and increases bile secretion. To retain the full nutrients, it is used just before completion of the preparation of recipes.

Sage

It is a very rich source of various vitamins and minerals. Sage contains vitamin K 1429 %, Iron 351 %, dietary fiber 106 %, pyridoxine 206 %, vitamin A 196 %, Magnesium 107 %, Manganese 136 %, and Calcium 165% and other B-complex vitamins and minerals. It is used in stuffing sausages, as a green vegetable with some of the non-vegetarian items based on poultry, fish and pork and also in salads.

sageinspoon

Ginger

Ginger contains many vitamins and minerals and mostly used for its medicinal properties. It is added to vegetables and meat curry or soup preparations. It is used in preparation of pickles alone or with mango or lemon and in snacks, candies, ginger bread and ginger tea.

Garlic

Garlic is rich in manganese (73%), vitamin –C (52%), Pyridoxine (95%) with other nutrients. It is used in seasoning or garnishing. Also used in recipes to add flavor like onions. It enhances the flavor of vegetable curry, soups, bread, chutney and sauces.

garlicimm

Sweet Marjoram (knotted marjoram)

It is an excellent source of iron with 1034 %, copper 126 %, calcium 200 %, manganese 236 %, vitamin K 518 %, vitamin A 269 %, vitamin C 86% , Pyridoxine 91%, fiber 106%, folate 68% and provides 271 calories of energy. It is used as a flavoring agent in soups and salads and in vegetable preparations. Marjoram tea is also consumed.

Thyme

It is a popular health drink with iron 218%, vitamin C 266%, manganese 75%, and riboflavin 36%. It is used in soups and sauces. Also used in stuffing fish, chicken and meat.

Thyme cover
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Turmeric

The wonder herb – turmeric is used in every household both as powder and root in most of the food preparations. It is highly sought after for its antiseptic and other medicinal properties. It contains iron 517%, manganese 340%, pyridoxine 138%, Potassium 54%, copper 67% and many other nutrients. It is a natural food preservative. It is used as a spice and also for its coloring property. It is also used in soups, yogurt, popcorn, biscuits, sweets etc.

Cilantro (Coriander leaves)

It contains vitamin A 225%, vitamin K 258% and many other nutrients. Used in preparation of chutney, green salads, masala powders, soups and sauces.

Cilantro

Parsley

This is an excellent source of vitamin K with 1366%, vitamin C 220%, vitamin A 281%, iron 77% and other nutrients. The leaves, stem and leaves are all used for flavoring various food preparations, to garnish, and in salads and chutney.

Ramya Srinivasan, PDGBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. As a result of her passion in native medicine, she got her Diploma in Traditional Siddha Medicine from Bharat Sevak Samaj registered under the Indian Planning Commission. She is certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.