Healthy greens: What’s in fresh herbs?

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Parsley, cress, dill & co. – herbs are more than just a spice and a nice topping on a meal. They are also very healthy in their own right. “Herbs score with secondary plant compounds as well as vitamins and minerals,” says Silke Restemeyer of the German Nutrition Society (DGE). You should consume them as often as possible in good doses – ideally with a balanced diet.

Secondary plant substances can have an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect in the body or even lower blood pressure. Last but not least, the essential oils contained in herbs, which are among the secondary plant substances, do the organism good. “If, for example, basil or thyme are extremely fragrant, this indicates a high content of essential oils,” explains Daniela Krehl from the Verbraucherzentrale Bayern.

Depending on the type of herb, the essential oils can have an appetizing or calming effect, for example. Or prevent flatulence.

These are the seven most common herbs and what they score with:

source: pixabay.com
  • Parsley: Contains vitamins C and K as well as minerals such as iron and beta-carotene. This plant pigment converts the body into vitamin A. According to Restemeyer, it has an antioxidant effect and stimulates some immune system functions.
  • Coriander: Coriander contains essential oils that, according to the DGE, stimulate the appetite and help against digestive complaints such as bloating, flatulence and gastrointestinal cramps. It also contains vitamin C.
  • Basil: Contains beta-carotene as well as magnesium and iron. Basil has appetite stimulating, diuretic and blood pressure lowering effects. It has a reputation for helping with digestive problems.
  • Lovage: B-group vitamins, vitamin C and minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium are in here. The herb stimulates the appetite and is also said to be diuretic, according to the DGE.
  • Sage: The tannins it contains aid digestion and relieve flatulence. They can also be antiperspirant. Sage also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Dill: Beta-carotene, but also vitamin C, calcium and potassium are found in dill. According to the DGE, the herb is a remedy for flatulence. It also supports the regeneration of cells in the body.
  • Thyme: Contains iron and calcium. Because thyme has antiviral and expectorant effects, it is not only a popular spice, but is also often drunk as a tea for coughs and sore throats.

Taken together, these examples provide good reasons to reach for fresh herbs more often. But is parsley & Co. also a healthy snack for in between meals? Can you set aside a small bowl for snacking?

DGE expert Restemeyer is rather skeptical. “They don’t really fill you up,” she says. “It can be even harmful to eat too many herbs at once,” so Verbraucherschützerin Krehl. “The essential oils contained in many herbs can irritate the stomach lining and thus ultimately lead to stomach complaints.”

Well-dosed fresh herbs can be used but in any case more often accompanying other healthy snacks. “For example, a few basil leaves on a cheese sandwich or cottage cheese with fresh herbs on a slice of wholemeal bread,” says Restemeyer.

How to keep store-bought herbs fresh

Herbs are highly sensitive. Therefore, they should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase. “To keep them fresh for a few more days, you can cut herbs, wrap them in a damp cloth and put them in the refrigerator,” says Daniela Krehl. An alternative: store the herbs slightly moistened in a perforated plastic bag also in the refrigerator.

If you want to store the green herbs for longer than a few days, you can dry them or freeze them. This allows you to hang herb sprigs in bundles in small portions as if on a clothesline. “However, by no means all herbs are suitable for drying,” Krehl says. It doesn’t work with cress or chives, for example.

When freezing, wash the herbs beforehand and cut them into small pieces. Put them in ice cube trays with a few drops of water and then put them in the freezer. The herb cubes are then added to stews or meat dishes without being thawed.

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