All too often parsley, rosemary or oregano are relegated to the side of the plate, a pretty but all-too-tiny sprig that decorates the plate and then gets thrown out. But what many people don’t realize is how POWERFUL these little herbs are. Not only do they pack an amazing flavour punch, but ounce for ounce herbs and spices in general are known to have stronger antioxidant abilities than almost any other food. These “garnishes” are not something to be taken lightly! In my last post I talked a bit about turmeric and ginger, and their benefits. Today I want to focus on one very common – and very potent – herb: oregano.
One of the most powerful antioxidants out there, a couple of oregano’s major components, carvacrol and thymol, are antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic. This humble herb can kill many of the bacteria that cause food poisoning. Some interesting facts about oregano:
- Research from University of Massachusetts found that a combination of oregano and cranberry extracts can kill H pylori bacteria, responsible for stomach ulcers.
- Oregano oil is believed to strengthen and heal the liver, and has also been used successfully to get rid of intestinal parasites.
- Research from Georgetown University Medical Center has shown impressive results for oregano’s ability to inhibit the growth of the Candida Albicans fungus.
- Oregano has been found to be a “potent radioprotective agent” i.e. it can reduce the DNA-damaging effects of radiation
- Of 115 different foods tested for anti-inflammatory properties in vitro, oregano was in the top 5, along with oyster mushrooms, onions, cinnamon and tea leaves.
Now, I’m not much of a gardener, but I love growing herbs and using them fresh in my smoothies, salads, and cooking. I grow oregano in pots, so it doesn’t get away on my, and I use it fresh – but I also cut and dry it because I love having my own dried oregano throughout the winter. It’s so easy!
Once you have cut it, give it a good shake to make sure you free any critters that may be lurking in the leaves, hang it upside-down (inside) to dry:
After a week or two – once it is COMPLETELY dry – remove the leaves from the stems (you can do this in one easy movement by holding the base of the stem and pinching as you pull the stem through your fingers. Have a bowl under your hands to catch the leaves. You can either store the leaves like this and rub it between your palms when cooking as needed, or if you have a lot and want to save space, grind it up now in a spice grinder and store in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
That’s all there is to it! Use liberally on pizzas, in pasta sauces, soups, with beans in casseroles, etc…
What’s your favourite way to include oregano in your diet?
- How Not to Die by Michael Greger, M.D.
- Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal, Ph.D.