Q. Do herbs give you much in the way of nutrition?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Monday, 17 March 2014.
Tagged: antioxidants, fresh food, healthy cooking, healthy eating

Q. Do herbs give you much in the way of nutrition?

THE QUESTION IN DETAIL

Q. We eat so many herbs and spices in sauces and other such dishes. Despite the fact that we eat them in small amounts, are there any nutritional benefits from eating them? So is coriander good for you? Rosemary? Nutmeg?

A. Fresh herbs are rich in a number of minerals - potassium, magnesium, with smaller amounts of iron and calcium - as well as vitamin C, folate, vitamin B1 and vitamin K. Like green leafy vegetables, they also score high for fibre and a great many antioxidants.

In the days prior to refrigeration, herbs were added to preserve dishes as their antioxidants act as anti-bacterial agents so preventing food from ‘going bad'.

Weight for weight, parsley has almost twice as much vitamin C as oranges. But you're right - we eat them in such small quantities that their overall contribution is small. However dishes like tabbouli (Middle Eastern parsley, tomato and bulgur salad) or Vietnamese salad (with mint and basil leaves) show that you can get quite large amounts with the right recipe.

But don't forget their medicinal properties. For example, garlic can lower cholesterol, ginger helps alleviate nausea, cinnamon can lower blood sugar in diabetes while turmeric is under study in Alzheimer's and cancer.

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.