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WELLBEING

Fresh herbs and their nutritional benefits B Y E M I LY H O P E

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t’s not often we look at the fresh herbs gracing our meals and ponder their nutritional benefits, but they shouldn’t be overlooked! The key issue is how much we eat of them. Often their serving size is so small (think a handful of parsley or basil freshly scattered over a dish). However, if we eat enough of them, they could contribute a nutritional profile similar to leafy greens which are known as nutrient powerhouses. Fresh herbs are packed with vitamins and minerals as well as health-promoting antioxidants which protect against free-radical damage. Those herbs that contain the highest levels of antioxidants include sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, marjoram and mint. In addition, thyme, oregano and rosemary have been found to contain valuable amounts of polyphenols – a group of antioxidants – that have been shown to support reduced levels of heart disease. In terms of vitamins and minerals, fresh green herbs provide a source of:

Magnesium - needed for optimal muscle and nerve function, regulating blood pressure and maintaining strong teeth and bones.

Potassium - needed to regulate fluid balance, nerve signals and muscle contractions, it is the complementary mineral to sodium, playing a role in regulating healthy blood pressure.

Fibre - important for regularity and preventing constipation. A high-fibre diet also encourages the growth of friendly bacteria for a healthy gut.

Calcium - encourages the growth and maintenance of strong bones and teeth to prevent osteoporosis in later life. Your muscles also need calcium to help them contract and relax.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) - releases the energy found in food into the body and regulates appetite and digestion.

Vitamin K – a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for healthy blood as it is required to make the proteins needed for normal blood clotting.

Vitamin C - a powerful antioxidant needed to form collagen, the major protein in skin, muscles, bones and tendons. It also boosts the immune system and helps to aid wound healing.

Making your own fresh pesto is a delicious way to consume more herbs because pesto is packed to the brim with herbs. 80

As an example, basil and parsley contain twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange on a per-weight basis, but the amount we normally consume deems their contribution to our nutrient intake insignificant compared to the amount of Vitamin C in one easily consumed orange. So the trick is to consume more fresh herbs as often as we can! Making your own fresh pesto is a delicious way to consume more herbs because pesto is packed to the brim with herbs. Most commonly known is basil pesto but you can make a wonderful pesto using any number of herbs such as coriander, parsley or mint, or better yet, a combination of herbs. The addition of olive oil, lemon juice and nuts or seeds only boosts its nutrient density. Try pesto smothered on toast topped with a freerange fried egg and some flaky iodised sea salt for a nutritious breakfast or lunch throughout the year. Or use freshly made pesto to top a pizza base before piling on your favourite toppings. Pesto is also a wonderful sauce to stir through penne pasta or spaghetti – a sure winner with children too! Of course, fresh herbs will always be a welcome colourful and nutritious addition to salads, risottos, pasta dishes, soups and dahls. Nothing looks prettier than a creamy dollop of yoghurt sitting atop a bowl of hot soup covered in speckles of freshly chopped green herbs. We eat with our eyes after all and fresh herbs can really bring a plate alive. So the aim is fresh herbs often (and ideally in significant amounts) to reap the benefits! www.hopenutrition.org.nz

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WildTomato August 2019  

Pet Phenomenon | Team Mako | Retirement Lifestyle | Fresh Herbs’ Benefits | Organic Wines | Fabulous Fashion | Gardening in Pots | Winter Ad...

WildTomato August 2019  

Pet Phenomenon | Team Mako | Retirement Lifestyle | Fresh Herbs’ Benefits | Organic Wines | Fabulous Fashion | Gardening in Pots | Winter Ad...