Herbs, nutrition, and health
Published: August 14, 2020
How do you think about herbs?
Are they something you regularly add to food to enhance flavour? Is your preference for herbal teas, or are you interested in their purported medicinal and therapeutic components?
What nutrition do they contribute to your eating for health plan?
Herbs are, in general, small plants that have no woody aerial parts and are collectively known as herbaceous plants.
Many are seed bearing perennials which die back to ground level at the end of each growing season.
Herbs may include annuals and biennials, and herbs such as sage, rosemary, lavender, and bay leaves.
However, these latter herbs are not botanically considered herbs since the plants are shrubs and trees with woody stems which do not die down at the end of the growing season.
The leaves and flowering parts of the plants are considered as the “herb” whereas dried seed, bark, roots, and fruit are considered “spices”.
Common popular herbs include the perennials thyme, mint, sage, lavender, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram, biennial parsley, annuals, basil and cilantro (coriander). Dill is used as both a herb and a spice.
Herbs can be used in a variety of beverages.
Herbal teas or tisanes are infusions of dried or fresh leaves, flowers, or seeds of herbs.
These beverages can be consumed hot or cold. Chamomile and mint are common examples, but sage and rosemary leaves can also be used for tea.
Alcoholic spirits such as gin may be distilled using botanicals (which include herbs), and which provide variation in the flavour of different brands of gin.
Herbs can also be added to cocktails.
Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth