Herbs and spices not only enhance and preserve the flavour, aroma, and colour of food and beverages, they can also protect from acute and chronic diseases. Herbs have been in use for centuries both for medicinal purposes and possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumorigenic, anticarcinogenic, and glucose- and cholesterol-lowering activities as well as properties that affect cognition and mood. Recent research has shown the diverse range of health properties that they possess via their bioactive constituent especially flavonoids and polyphenols (Jiang 2019).
Polyphenols are a class of phytochemicals (naturally occurring plant compounds) that are found in a wide variety of foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds and are particularly rich in herbs and spices. Rosemary is a good source of polyphenols, including carnosol, carnosic acid, methyl carnosol, rosmarinic acid, ursolic acid. These compounds are thought to contribute to the health benefits of rosemary, including its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Rosemary is also a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B6, and also contains small amounts of vitamin A and C. So the addition of rosemary to even nutrient depleted foods can make a big difference to the food. For example, rosemary has 4 times more Iron and 10 times more Calcium per gram than white bread not to mention levels of Vitamin B6: Vitamin A and Vitamin C: 9.2 mg. Adding rosemary to even the nutritionally blandest meals can improve it.
The potential health benefits of rosemary are extensive covering potentially more than 100 conditions. Rosemary is rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals which is one of the root conditions of all our diseases including cancer and Alzheimer’s (Thring, Hili, & Naughton, 2013). Along with its anti oxidant effects Rosemary has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory effects and has been shown to reduce inflammation in animal studies of colitis (Kim et al., 2007). Studies have also shown benefits for cardiovascular health including lowering high blood pressure diabetes and metabolic syndrome (Kim et al., 2012).
Rosemary has extensive anti-carcinogenic properties with protective effects against various types of cancers (Thring et al., 2013) including melanoma skin cancers and breast cancer. It has been shown to protect the liver from toxic exposure including alcohol consumption as well as help in liver repair.
Rosemary also has been shown to have cognitive-enhancing effects including improved memory and cognitive function in a group of healthy adults (Buchbauer et al., 2010).
Time to add some rosemary and other herbs to your foods as well as using rosemary essential oils because they can make a big difference to your health.