Kale, spinach, and broccoli aren’t the only greens you should have on your grocery list. There’s a whole world of healthy herbs to try. Herbs will not only make your food more delicious and exciting to eat, but they can also do a lot to keep you healthy.
“We should think of herbs as vegetables and therefore provide a virtually calorie-free source of nutrients and important phytonutrients to promote better health,” says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RDN, author of The SuperfoodsRx Diet.
Long before modern medicine, ancient civilizations relied heavily on a variety of herbs for their healing properties. Although there is very little scientific evidence that any single herb can directly prevent or cure serious illnesses, research increasingly shows that many of the most common options in grocery stores have properties that can help reduce the risk of developing certain diseases or to alleviate certain symptoms.
Adding herbs to your diet has another benefit: “Adding flavor with herbs can make it easier to eat foods we need more of, including vegetables and whole grains, because they improve the taste and the smell of everything,” says Dr. Bazilian. She also thinks this added flavor makes it easier to reduce less desirable ingredients like sugars, salt and saturated fats. A study published in the December 2019 issue of Nutrients found that up to half the salt in a vegetarian dish could be reduced when herbs and spices were added, without affecting the perceived taste.
When it comes to culinary herbs, you have plenty of choices, depending on your flavor preferences and the dishes you want to add them to. Here’s the science behind why these seven options are so good for you, and tips to keep you satiated.