How herbs can help to boost immunity
7th November 2019 / Health / Ingredients
How herbs can help to boost immunity
Herbs have been used for centuries, both in the kitchen as well as for medicinal purposes, and it’s for good reason! Herbs not only help to enhance the flavour and colour of the foods that we eat but they also provide heaps of nutritional benefits. From their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to their ability to enhance cognition and boost our mood, herbs and spices really are the silent achievers! Not only that, but they are really great for immunity!
Herbs are rich in bioactive compounds called flavonoids and polyphenols which are known to enhance our health. You might have guessed but we certainly can’t get enough of herbs and spices, adding them into our meals, using them to make sauces and dressings and of course adding them into our teas. So, if that’s piqued your interest, keep reading to find out our favourites, when we like to eat them and a yummy herby recipe!
WHY WE LOVE HERBS AND SPICES FOR IMMUNITY
As we’ve already mentioned herbs and spices are packed with antioxidants, which are beneficial compounds that help to protect our cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals (the bad guys) and antioxidants (the good guys). These powerful antioxidants help to support our immune system, by protecting our cells and tissues; so a diet high in antioxidants improves certain immune responses! If you want to find out more about antioxidants specifically, you can! Find it on another on one of our other blogs here.
Good news! Those known to have higher antioxidant concentrations are most likely already sitting in your kitchen cupboard! These include oregano, sage, peppermint, garden thyme, lemon balm, clove, allspice and cinnamon.
The high phenolic compounds present in herbs suggests an abundance of health benefits. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it! Well, knowing this, we try and add herbs to all our meals and after reading this, you might just do the same because they really are immunity superheroes!
OUR 3 FAVOURITES
Rosemary is delicious and has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It is understood that rosemary was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory and cognition and supporting the circulatory system. Not only that but it can also help boost the immune system. Being a rich source of antioxidants, we particularly love it for this reason. Rosemary really is an all-rounder, it’s a staple in our cupboards, adding plenty of flavour to soups and jazzing up our roasted veggies!
This lemon-scented herb is a derivative of the mint family. Lemon balm is a wonderful herb that helps to relieve anxiety which can help to promote relaxation. We love lemon balm so much we include it in our Night Complex.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that helps to adapt to your body's needs by helping to maintain a healthy equilibrium. Keeping hold of the natural balance of our systems; from our hormones to our immune defence. Ashwagandha is known for its ability to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation, especially important when we are trying to keep up with the demands of modern life.
Whilst these are some of our favourites, don’t be fooled we love them all! Adding herbs into all your meals can give your meal-times that extra immunity boost. As we keep saying, it’s all about the daily TLC that we give to our immune system. If you want to learn more about building a robust immune, then you can check out our immunity blog here.
One of the trickier things about herbs is often their shelf-life. Some herbs are more hardy, say your rosemary and thyme but others are a little more fragile and need to be used more quickly! So, we thought we’d let you into a couple of little secrets (some little Link hacks if you like) for getting the best out of your herbs before they are past their best.
- Add them into your sauces, soups and stews - Herbs are a great addition to any recipe, adding flavour as well as an immunity-boost. If you’re anything like us, we often have herbs lying about in the fridge, looking a little sorry for themselves; so now is your opportunity to get creative in the kitchen!
- Make pesto - Pesto a delicious way to use your leftover herbs, pesto is a great toast topper, wonderful with roasted veggies and a great way to jazz up whatever is in your lunchbox!
- Freezing herbs - if you’re still struggling with leftover herbs, chopping them up and popping them into ice cube trays with a little oil ready to pop into soups and stews can be a game-changer!
SPICED PUMPKIN SOUP RECIPE
This herby autumnal soup is the perfect way to get in your daily dose of herbs. Adding herbs into your diet can really have an impact on your health. Soups are great at this time of the year, and there’s no better way to celebrate pumpkins that roasting them up and making a delicious soup. Why not give this herb-packed recipe a go?
2 celery stalks
2 garlic cloves
1 litre of vegetable stock (homemade if you can!)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ bunch of fresh sage (plus a couple of leaves for garnish)
3 stalks of fresh rosemary
- Preheat your oven to 180c.
- Deseed and slice your pumpkin then pop it onto a baking tray with a little salt and pepper and roast it in your preheated oven for around 30 minutes or until nicely golden.
- Meanwhile, thinly slice your leeks and onions, dice the celery and crush (or grate) the garlic. Gently saute in a pan with a little water (to create a little steam) so that they soften but don’t colour. It will take about 15 minutes on a low heat.
- Chop up your fresh herbs sage and rosemary.
- To the softened onion and leeks, add in your dried spices and chopped up fresh herbs and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Once the pumpkin is soft and golden brown, remove from the oven and add it to the pan with the softened herby vegetables.
- Add in the vegetable stock and give it a stir.
- Blend using a hand blender until it is silky smooth. Serve up in a bowl and enjoy!
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