Food Basics: Health Benefits of Oregano
Oregano is popularly known as the “pizza herb”. If the leaves of the herb are crushed, it gives out a characteristic pungent aromatic smell. It is said that the pungency of oregano is directly related to the amount of sunlight it gets. Fahmida Ali Khan, Food, Nutrition and Dietetics Specialist, shares some interesting facts and health benefits of oregano.
The herb is endowed with several medicinal properties, the most prominent among them being its applications as an alexipharmic, appetiser and laxative. It is used in ayurveda to treat colds, influenza mild fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, itchy skin, indigestion, stomachs upsets and painful menstruation conditions, reflecting anti-microbial (anti-bacterial) properties, strongly anti-septic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue (help gall bladder secretion), diaphoretic (sweet production), expectorant, stimulant and mild tonic properties. It is also believed to calm nerves and is used to cure seasickness.
Oregano tea is a strong sedative and traditionally used to treat colds, bronchitis, asthma, fevers, and painful menstruation because of its antiseptic properties. Oregano can also be used as an antidote for venomous bites from snakes and insects. It is also used to treat skin disorders. Rosmaric acid reduces fluid build-up and even swelling and inflammation during an allergy attack, making it a natural and effective histamine reducing compound.
This spice can be used on meat and fish dishes as it resembles thyme in flavour and aroma. Oregano can be used in a number of recipes like pizza, soups, pasta, syrups, salad, dressings, cheese mixtures, seafood, omelets, sausages, ice cream, custards and all sorts of tomato based dishes and different Italian sauces. Fresh and dried oregano leaves have volatile oils possesses carminative, stomachic, diuretic, diaphoretic, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-microbial properties and are shown to inhibit stubborn bacteria like pseudomonas aeruginosa and staphylococcus aureus. The phytonutrients, thymol, carvacrol and rosmarinic acid, present in oregano leaves acts like a strong antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body.
*DATA COURTESY: Fahmida Nasreen. She holds a degree in M.Sc (Food, Nutrition and Dietetics) SHIATS (Allahabad Agriculture University).
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images