Sure we all see those little green flakes in our tomato sauce and think – OK the chef didn’t forget to shake some oregano in there. But sadly, the average person does not give too much attention to this small but powerful herb. Europe made the same mistake with Napoleon many years ago…
Oregano is known as “delight of the mountains” in Greek and is renowned for its medicinal and nutritional properties. But besides wanting to swallow some ‘mountain delight’, why is oregano important for anti-aging and immunity?
• The herb is rich in poly-phenolic flavonoid anti-oxidants (vitamin A, carotenes, lutein, zea-xanthin, and cryptoxanthin) and has been rated as one of the plant sources with highest anti-oxidant activities. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
• Oregano is an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure caused by high sodium. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron helps prevent anemia. Magnesium and calcium are important minerals for bone metabolism.
• Oregano contains health benefiting essential oils such as carvacrol, thymol, limonene, pinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene. The leaves and flowering stem of the plant are strongly anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, carminative, cholagogue (help gall bladder secretion), diaphoretic (sweat production), expectorant, stimulant, and mildly tonic properties. Its decoction is taken by mouth for the treatment of colds, influenza, mild fevers, indigestion, stomach upsets, and painful menstruation conditions.
• Thymol is also been found to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal activities.
• Oregano is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin; vitamin-C. Vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
Oregano, I’ve been told, is apparently quite easy to grow. So find a corner in your yard or put a pot on your stoop and buy some seeds. Fresh oregano is a lot better for you than the dried version since you benefit more from all those amazing oils. I tear it up over pizzas and toss it in all my sauces.
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