Culinary herbs are the leaves of plants that have a variety of uses in cooking. It’s important to note that culinary herbs should not be confused with spices from other parts of the plant like the seeds, bark, or roots.
Culinary herbs are oftentimes used to add flavor to your dishes instead of salt, which can help reduce your sodium intake for better health. Additionally, many of them also provide vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants, which can help protect against free radical damage and reduce inflammation in the body.
Besides, using culinary herb plants makes it easier to introduce these ingredients into your diet since you can snip off what you need and use them fresh whenever needed.
Why are Culinary Herbs Important?
People have become increasingly interested in growing culinary herbs in their gardens or on their window sills in recent years. Culinary herbs are herbs that are used to season our foods and make them more palatable. Most culinary herbs can also be used medicinally.
Culinary herbs can be divided into two broad categories-those used to flavor savory dishes and those used to flavor desserts and other sweet dishes. Savory herbs are generally more popular than the sweet ones, and most herb gardeners grow a wider variety of savory than sweet herbs in their gardens.
Types of Culinary Herbs
Below are some common culinary herbs and their uses:
Basil: Basil has a sweet, peppery flavor and is commonly used in Italian cuisine. It’s also one of the main ingredients used in pesto sauce and Thai and Vietnamese dishes.
Chives: Chives have a mild onion flavor and can be added to salads, soups, and sauces. They are also delicious on baked potatoes or steamed vegetables.
Oregano: Oregano is a common culinary herb often confused with marjoram. Oregano and marjoram are both members. Oregano has a more robust flavor than marjoram. Oregano is used as a spice in many recipes, while marjoram’s leaves are more commonly used in fresh or dried food preparations. Both plants are considered perennial herbs, which means they’re grown for two or more years before needing to be replanted.
What are the Benefits of Culinary Herbs?
- Prevent chronic diseases– Antioxidants in herbs and other phytochemicals in herbs have reduced the risk for several chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Herbs are rich in antioxidants and other phytochemicals that may help prevent chronic diseases.
- Improve brain function– Aromatic herbs such as rosemary, sage, and thyme contain compounds that can cross the blood-brain barrier and directly benefit the brain.
- Slow the aging process-By protecting against oxidative damage. Antioxidants in herbs may slow the aging process.
- Reduce respiratory problems– The volatile oils of some culinary herbs have antibacterial effects, and research suggests they may be useful for treating respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.
- Boost energy– If you’re feeling sluggish during the day, herbs can provide a natural energy boost without caffeine or sugar. Basil, oregano, and rosemary can energize you while alleviating some of the stress of your busy day at work.
- Improve mood-One study found that people who achieved good dietary intake of folate had a lower risk of depression than those with lower folate intakes. Since herbs like parsley and thyme are high in folate, adding them to your diet may help improve your mood.
Finally, herbs are powerful medicine. That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people incorporate herbs into their daily diet to prevent an array of diseases.