Researchers from Australia’s Southern Cross University show the antioxidantvalue of a simple salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato could be significantly increased by adding a dressing rich in herbs. The ORAC value—a measure of antioxidant power—nearly tripled when a Greek-style lemon and olive oil dressing also included garlic, rosemary, oregano and mint. Similarly, the ORAC value more than doubled if garlic, basil, parsley and oregano were added to create an Italian-flavoured dressing.
Such findings confirm that herbs can provide powerful antioxidants, as first reported in 2005 by a study in the US, where marjoram or lemon balm increased the antioxidant value of a salad by 200 per cent.
boosted pasta sauces
But the benefits don’t end with salads.
The latest study from Australia shows you can use herbs to boost the antioxidant value of a plain tomato and olive oil pasta sauce by 50 to 200 per cent, depending on whether you add garlic, ginger, basil or oregano, with the latter providing the strongest result. While the effect of each herb was measured individually, researchers believe there is even more antioxidant power than would be predicted by mixing herbs and plant foods together because of the way their phytonutrients network.
5 ways to use more herbs
1. Sprinkle dried oregano on a slice of toast drizzled with olive oil.
2. Bake potatoes with crushed rosemary or pumpkin with sage leaves.
3. Add dried herbs, such as thyme or dill, when cooking lentil, barley or vegetable soups.
4. Create a salsa with chopped tomato, red onion, coriander, basil and avocado.
5. Add sliced ginger to a broth with soba noodles, Shitake mushrooms, bean sprouts and spring onions.