The impressive health benefits of oregano include its ability to protect the immune system, prevent the onset of chronic disease, improve digestion, detoxify the body, strengthen the bones, improve heart health, increase energy levels, and even protect against diabetes. From adding flavor to dishes to killing antibiotic resistant infections, oregano has many uses in the kitchen and beyond.
- Oregano is a popular herb that many people think of as merely a spice to improve or enhance the flavor of their food, but in reality, this perennial herb, with the scientific name of Origanum vulgare, has a treasure of health benefits that most people don’t realize at all. Native to southwest Eurasia and the Mediterranean area, oregano has been a valuable part of both culinary and alternative medicine treatments for thousands of years. Oregano is actually closely related to mint, and its genus is actually in the same family as Mentha. For this reason, the two share many similar organic components and have many of the same health benefits. The leaves of oregano are the most commonly used part of the plant, but strangely, the aroma and flavor of the leaves are far greater when the herb is dried than when the leaves are fresh, which is somewhat unusual for an herb.
- Add it toward the end of the cooking process for maximum flavor
- The smaller you chop or grind it, the more flavor will be released
- Start with a small amount, as too much can make the food bitter
- One teaspoon of dried oregano is equivalent to one tablespoon of fresh oregano
It is available dried or fresh in grocery stores, or you can grow it in a pot on a windowsill or balcony or in the garden. It is a perennial, which means it can grow all year.In folk medicine and herbal remedies from Australia to Egypt, oregano has developed a popular following as a veritable cure for many health concerns, but the research to back up all of those claims is ongoing. However, there are some potent active ingredients in oregano that have been intensely studied, and their effects on the body are redundant.
Oil of oregano is an extremely concentrated form of oregano and is used to treat some conditions, but it should always be diluted, as it is very potent. In culinary applications, where it is most commonly seen, it is used to flavor everything from soups, sauces, and curries to meat dishes, pizza, pasta, vegetables, and even salads. Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the diverse and impressive health benefits of oregano.
Health Benefits of Oregano
Health benefits of oregano include:
Two of the most important components of oregano is rosmarinic acid and thymol, both of which are powerful antioxidant compounds that have been closely linked to reducing oxidative stress in the body. Free radicals are the destructive by-products of cellular metabolism that can cause cancer and other chronic diseases. Thus, adding oregano to your diet by sprinkling it on your meals can improve your immune health and keep your body safe from some of the most dangerous and silent killers.
Oregano is an herb with an estimated 4 times the concentration of antioxidants as blueberries and offers a wealth of additional health benefits. - Natural Society.com
In 2014, food scientists discovered that the popular culinary herbs oregano, rosemary, and marjoram contain compounds that may have the potential to manage type 2 diabetes in a similar way to some currently prescribed drugs.
On a more basic immune system note, oregano also has clear antibacterial properties, which is again due to the presence of thymol and carvacrol. These important organic compounds can defend the body against a wide range of bacteria that can affect the skin, the gut, and other parts of the body. Oregano is also a slightly stimulating agent, which can increase the production of white blood cells and speed up the metabolism, resulting in the faster recovery of common illnesses.
The herb has shown antimicrobial activity in a number of studies. One group of researchers found that Origanum vulgare essential oils were effective against 41 strains of the food pathogen Listeria monocytogenes.
"We have done a few preliminary tests and have found that the essential oil from the oregano kills MRSA at a dilution 1 to 1,000. The tests show that the oil kills MRSA both as a liquid and as a vapor and its antimicrobial activity is not diminished by heating in boiling water."
Prof. Vyv Salisbury, the University of the West of England, Bristol
Oregano is packed with fiber, so despite its small size, it can have a major impact on your digestive system. Fiber is an essential element of a healthy digestive system, as it can increase the bulk of your stool and stimulate peristaltic motion, which moves food through the digestive tract and excretes it efficiently. Also, fiber helps to maintain the health of the gut and increases nutrient uptake, so the food you eat does more for you!
Oregano is a natural form of omega-3 fatty acids, the beneficial type of cholesterol that actually improves your heart health. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids help to re balance your cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system, thereby helping to prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes!
Detoxifies the Body
The nutrient-rich oregano, with a high content of manganese, calcium, iron, vitamin K, fiber, and a wide range of other organic compounds, makes this an ideal herb for detoxifying the body. Research has shown that oregano can help liver function and speed up the process of toxin elimination.
Improves Bone Health
As we get older, our bones begin to weaken and break down, so ensuring that we get enough vitamins and minerals in our early years is important. Calcium, iron, and manganese are some of the most crucial minerals for bone health, and oregano has significant amounts of all of them, making it great for people who want to protect themselves against osteoporosis later in life.
Increases Energy Levels
By improving the functionality of the metabolism, thanks to B-vitamins and its unique organic composition, the body is rejuvenated and energized. The increase in circulation, due to the presence of iron and increased levels of hemoglobin, helps to fully oxygenate the cells and muscles of the body, thereby increasing energy and strength.
Word of Caution
Although some people who are allergic to mint and other herbaceous perennial plants may experience some discomfort while eating or touching oregano, it is not commonly known as an allergenic substance. Also, the symptoms of an allergic reaction to oregano are very mild. Toss some oregano into your next meal and see just how beneficial it can really be!