Many people use fresh or dried herbs in their cooking to enhance the taste of their dishes. It turns out that many of these herbs actually have a great deal of health benefits. Some of the most popular herbs to use in pasta dishes, like oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary, and garlic, provide all kinds of nutritional benefits to those who consume them. However, because herbs are often eaten in small quantities, sometimes people might not gain all of the benefits they otherwise would from eating a plate of spinach, for example. So the next time you make pasta, try many different herbs, and don’t be shy about piling them on! Here is some information on these five popular herbs used in pasta dishes and their health benefits:
Fresh oregano has a comparable nutritional profile to that of other leafy greens. It is high in vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and manganese. These vitamins and minerals make oregano a strong anti-oxidant. Vitamin C is well-known for its ability to support the immune system, and manganese is a trace mineral that can help reduce arthritis pain and mitigate certain symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Because of the oils in the fresh herbs, oregano also has wonderful anti-bacterial properties. It is a popular herb to use in tomato sauce for pasta.
Fresh basil, probably most famous for its use in pesto sauce, is also an anti-bacterial agent like oregano. It can be used as a pain reliever, as well, because of its anti-inflammatory properties. The magnesium in basil also helps to regulate nerve impulses, which also aids in reducing pain. There are also high levels of beta-carotene present in basil, which is excellent for keeping the skin, teeth, and eyes healthy.
Though it is not often thought of as such, parsley is one of the leafy greens that most health experts are saying people should eat more of. Parsley contains calcium, which is important for bone health, and chlorophyll, which helps to heal wounds in both tissues and nerves, stimulates red blood cells and acts as a blood purifier and prevents free radicals from doing damage to otherwise healthy cells. Parsley is also a natural diuretic, so it can help relieve bloating during menstruation. Parsley is used in so many pasta dishes it’s hard to narrow down to the ones it is most closely associated with, but it’s great to add to alfredo or marinara sauce and serve these sauces over freshly cooked pasta. Flat-leaf parsley, rather than curly parsley, is better to use in pasta dishes because of its superior flavor.
Rosemary is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb that also works to stimulate the immune system. It can also improve circulation and has been shown to block excess estrogen in females, which helps to prevent different forms of cancer including breast and uterine cancers. It can be used to treat asthma and digestive problems. Rosemary’s bioflavonoids are powerful anti-oxidants as well. It can be used to flavor tomato or onion sauces for pasta, and is also a great addition to pasta dishes made with chicken or meat.
Garlic is perhaps one of the foods most frequently touted as a “superfood”, meaning it has extremely powerful health benefits. It is excellent for the immune system overall, and can help to treat skin problems especially acne or fungal infections. An important component of garlic is sulfur, which is vital for collagen production and for maintaining the health of connective tissues. Garlic is nearly omnipresent in pasta dishes, and makes an appearance in linguine with clam sauce, spaghetti carbonara, and pasta puttanesca, just to name a few. There’s hardly a pasta dish that couldn’t be enhanced by the addition of garlic.
Flavoring your pasta dishes with fresh herbs is one of the best ways you can start benefiting from the healing properties of these plants. These five herbs have a multitude of healthful properties and if eaten frequently can help you maintain or improve your health.