Herbs and spices are an excellent way to boost your daily antioxidant intake, helping to build your body’s defences, boost your immune system and maximise your wellbeing. Antioxidants protect the body’s cells against lifestyle conditions, working in the body to mop up free radicals, the damaging by-products of our modern lifestyle released during metabolism and other physiological body functions.
Rosemary is RICH in antioxidants and contains more antioxidants per gram than most vegetables and many fruits (30 336 μmol TE per 100 grams). Even in the relatively small amounts you would use in a recipe, rosemary gives your diet an antioxidant boost.
Health benefits of Rosemary
- Rich in antioxidants, and higher than most vegetables and many fruits
- High in phytonutrients including vitamins, minerals and bioactive components
- Help support the immune system through their phytonutrients
- Aid digestion via speeding up food movement from the stomach (gastric emptying)
- Promotes heart health by enabling high flavour, low fat, low salt cooking
- The natural antimicrobial properties of many herbs and spices reduce the risk of bacteria in food
Research suggests that traditional Mediterranean diets are associated with longer life expectancy and reduced risk of some diseases such as cancer and metabolic syndrome. The analysis of the Mediterranean diet in these studies has been descriptive or focused on food groups. However the Mediterranean diet includes considerable amounts of garlic, rosemary, basil and other herbs and the protective effects of the diet may be partly due to the antioxidant capacity of these herbs.
In general herbs & spices have high antioxidant concentrations that have the potential to inhibit the oxidation of LDL, otherwise known as “bad cholesterol”. Herbs & spices contain many different classes of antioxidants in varying amounts. Rosemary has extremely high antioxidant capacity. It has been shown that the intake of herbs can contribute significantly to the total intake of plant antioxidants. For example a longitudinal investigation study of elderly men found that increasing flavonoid intake from fruit, vegetables and tea by 25.9mg/day was inversely associated with heart disease mortality.
Rosemary, sage and thyme have high flavonoid content and can therefore have an important role in dietary flavonoid intake. There is no data indicating that herbs and spices have an anti-carcinogenic effect in humans but there are several in vitro and in vivo studies suggesting that certain herbs and spices including rosemary may have a chemo-preventative effect against the early stages of cancer. For example, rosemary in an animal study was found to decrease intestinal tumour multiplicity by 46% and may inhibit breast cancer.
Rosemary has also been found to reduce the production of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) in meat cooked in high temperatures. These compounds are associated with an increased risk of some cancers. Two of the active oils in rosemary, rosemarinic and carnosic acids, showed in vitro a reduction in the formation of some HCA in hamburgers.
There is some research to suggest that rosemary and herb extract can reduce arthritic knee pain. Based on research in rats, rosemary may reduce bone resorption.
Did you know?
Memory and rosemary have been linked for hundreds of years. It is used as a symbol for remembrance for weddings, war commemorations and funerals in Europe. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet there is the famous line
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance”.