They're anti-microbial, beautiful, packed with vitamins and minerals and antioxidants, anti-inflammatory—and by the way, delicious. We leaned heavily on nutritional information from Livestrong for this post.
Thymol, one of thyme’s prominent essential oils, is able to stimulate Omega-3 production in brain cells. Studies show that thyme tea can help relieve coughs and bronchitis.
A couple tablespoons of fresh thyme scattered over your meal provides 20% of the RDA of iron.
Our favorite use: We put an entire bunch in every pot of stock we make.
Scapes are the flower of a hard-neck garlic plant. Like mature garlic, scapes contain allicin, a compound that the NIH suggests can help guard against osteoarthritis. In lab trials, sulphur compounds in garlic cause cancer cells to die.
Our favorite uses: Tossed with salt & olive oil and grilled. Garlic scape pesto.
It kills E.coli in test tubes, reduces nausea during morning sickness, and can help calm the effects of irritable bowel syndrome.
It’s also delicious with a huge variety of flavors, from cumin to ginger, sugar to lemon.
Our favorite use: As an iced tea, in combination with lemon balm.
Search the term ‘lemon balm’ on the internet and you’ll find a plethora of salves and tinctures. Lemon balm is reported to be a mild relaxant, and some studies have shown it to improve cognitive function in both healthy people and those with dementia. Like many herbs, it has antimicrobal properties.
Our favorite use: As iced tea, in combination with mint.
High in minerals like magnesium and potassium and manganese, sorrel can help to regulate blood pressure and build bones.
Be warned that it turns brown when cooked. To pep up the color of cooked sorrel, combine it with parsley or another green accent that has better staying power.
Our favorite use: Creamy sorrel soup.
Like all the herbs, basil is very nutritious in its own right. Full of eye-protecting lutein and zeaxanthin, the vitamin K your body needs to promote healthy tissue growth and aid in healthy clotting, as well as the viamin A that supports cellular differentiation and regulates gene activity.
A quarter-cup of chopped basil leaves included with your meal provides about 20% of the RDA for vitamin A.
Our favorite uses: Caprese salad, pesto, basil ice cream.
Marjoram is a sub-variety of oregano. The two are often confused, but the flavor of marjoram is sweeter and milder than its more familiar, more assertive cousin.
Ancient Greeks and Romans considered marjoram to be the symbol of happiness.
Our favorite uses: Added to salad dressings, and included in sauces for roasted meats.
Like many herbs, shiso is a member of the basil family. It's popular in east Asian cuisine, where it's important as a flavoring for soup, pickles, and rice dishes. Under the name perilla, the same herb is also quite popular in Latin America.
The purple variety is high in the pigment anthocyanin, which is a flavonoid. And all shiso is rich in B vitamins and minerals.
Our favorite uses: Shiso "lemonade"—it's pink!
Studies show sage has positive effects on the way the body metabolizes sugars, and because it is also full of antioxidants, it helps the body fend off free radicals.
Like many herbs, it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial qualities.
Our favorite use: With lemon and a stick of cinnamon in a roast chicken.
A relative of carrots, cilantro is highly nutritious. Significant amounts of vitamin K support blood and bone health, while B vitamins help your cells make DNA. Some reports show it can be helpful in removing heavy metals from the body, in combination with other herbs.
Our favorite uses: In curried chicken salad and shredded carrot salad.
Dill is incredibly nutritious. Peer-reviewed scientific journals found it to be rich in antioxidants. It also has the capacity to kill harmful microbes, including Staph. It helps to alkalize the gut against ulcers, reduces cholesterol, and more.
Our favorite uses: Combine it with beets or cucumbers, and include it in creamy dressings.
Oregano is rich in antioxidants and minerals. People take it in medicinal quantities for everything from painful menstrual cramps to mild fevers.
Like many other popular herbs, it has antibacterial, antifungal properties.
Our favorite use: On crusty homemade pizza.
Like regular basil, purple basil contains essential oils and phytochemicals that have an exciting range of health implications.
Purple basil is high in vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium, but its purple pigment signifies a higher dose of anthocyanins, a class of powerful antioxidants.
Our favorite uses: Purple basil lemonade. Purple pesto.
Like many herbs, summer savory is part of the mint family. For generations, folk remedies have included savory as one of the many herbs valued as digestive aids.
Savory is a well-named herb. It's delicious in practically any savory dish. Like thyme, its flavor is not too overpowering, and combines well with other herbs.
Our favorite uses: On chicken and pork. Flavoring salad dressings.
The scent of rosemary is pungent and particular, We find it doesn’t mix well with many other herbs. Like almost all herbs, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities.
Herbal medicine values rosemary oil as a mood-booster and memory support.
Our favorite uses: With roasted potatoes, and in baked chicken.
Looking for something a little more subtle than raw, chopped onion in a dish? Reach for the chives.
As a member of the onion family, chives are high in allicin, which can contribute to lower cholesterol levels, as well as a number of antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. In lab studies, chives are able to kill at least 30 strains of salmonella.