This well known herb has leaves that are aromatic, warm and slightly bitter to taste, and is a great favorite in Greek and Italian cuisine. Those leaves are small, grayish green and oval and come from oregano. In fact the best quality oregano has such a strong taste that it can numb the tongue but that is all part of the experience.
Oregano has been used medicinally for centuries for conditions ranging from headaches
to promoting menstruation.
Oregano is a super "functional food" with an excellent and proven nutritional profile. Even Hippocrates, the great Greek philosopher and scholar, used oregano for medicinal purposes.
How to use in cooking
This herb is one of the foundation bases of the healthy Mediterranean diet
along with olive oil, fish and lots of greens, other herbs and vegetables. Oregano adds depth and flavor to any dish, but goes particularly well with tomatoes, eggplant and all types of meat. Sprinkle some in your scrambled eggs or salad dressings or use as a seasoning in stews, pizzas and tomato based sauces. Fresh oregano leaves can enhance the flavor of salads and soups as well as regular Mediterranean dishes.
Of course, oregano is equally well known for its potent essential oils which can be influenced by the climate, the season and the soil in which the herbs grow. There are several different species of the herb.
If you are in the habit of using the oregano herb in your own cooking, you can be sure of deriving many health benefits from an impressive list of plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties.
Some of those health benefits
- Oregano contains no cholesterol but is a rich source of dietary fiber, helping to control blood cholesterol levels as well as providing better elimination. No fear of constipation, hemorrhoids or anal fissures.
- Oregano is a cholagogue, meaning it will help promote the flow of bile from the gall bladder so it becomes easier to digest those foods that are higher in fat.
- Another digestive plus is that oregano can increase the motility in the gastrointestinal tract, assisting digestion.
- This herb is also an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron and magnesium. Our bodies need all these for a variety of functions: potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure caused by high sodium; manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase; iron helps prevent anemia; while magnesium and calcium are important minerals for bone metabolism.
- Vitamin C is also present helping the body develop resistance against infections while seeing off harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
- Oregano is a rich natural source of vitamin K, an important vitamin that is so often overlooked. That is why it is sometimes known as the forgotten vitamin.
- Oregano is highly antiseptic and because of its carbacrol content, will help to fight off infection.
- Oregano is rich in anti-bacterial properties and antioxidants.
- Oregano is a natural source of those all important Omega-3 fatty acids.
A word of warning
Just a few cautions about oregano as not everyone should take it – especially during pregnancy as it can weaken the lining of the embryonic sack. If you are allergic to mint, sage, basil or thyme, you might also be allergic to oregano. Although so useful for digestive problems, oregano can cause the opposite effect in some people. The oil in oregano may reduce the body’s ability to absorb iron.
We love to encourage you to buy fresh herbs whenever you can or even grow your own whether in your garden, in a container or at the very least in pots on your window ledge. There is always a way.
Fresh is best.