What is an anti-oxidant?
Before I put it in simple terms, let us look at what the Wikipedia has to say about “anti-oxidants” –
An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction involving the loss of electrons or an increase in oxidation state. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When the chain reaction occurs in a cell, it can cause damage or death to the cell. Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions by removing free radical intermediates, and inhibit other oxidation reactions. They do this by being oxidized themselves, so antioxidants are often reducing agents such as thiols, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), or polyphenols.
If that definition confused you, let us look at this definition excluding all the jargons and chemical definitions.
In simple terms, anti-oxidants prevent the formation of free radicals, which is responsible for causing chain reactions in your body cells, which could lead to the death of the cells.
These free radicals causes cancer, strokes and certain other neuro-degenerative diseases. So adding an anti-oxidant to your diet could help prevent such problems from happening.
Vegetables and Fruits have been known to be rich in anti-oxidants and a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is probably the easiest way you could get these anti-oxidants into your body.
Research also shows that there are a lot of herbs which are not only good because of its culinary benefits, instead it has a lot of medicinal benefits too, like analgesic herbs for example. Some of these are known to be very good anti-oxidants and including this in your food can benefit your overall health.
5 Herbs with Anti-Oxidant Properties
Herbs are usually mistaken to be medicines. But it is not so. Some herbs can add a nice flavor to your food, yet others gives your food that unique taste and there are a few others that are analgesic herbs. Analgesic herbs are natural pain relievers and can help you avoid all of those side effects that you usually see with painkillers.
Below we look at 5 such herbs which has excellent anti-oxidant properties and which you should try to include in your food.
This is one of the best herbs and something that you should try to include in your food, as much as possible. Oregano gives a nice aromatic flavor to foods and is almost always seen an an inclusion with Italian, Mediterranean and Mexican dishes like pizzas, salads, garlic breads, and eggs. Oregano contains a lot of phytonutrients and is found to be good in inhibiting bacterial growth.
If you use Oregano in your foods, then it is recommended that you add it in fresh form, or dried form, only at the end of the cooking process. This helps retain the flavor and will give your food a nice aroma.
Thyme is a herb that has been used for years, to treat respiratory problems like cough, bronchitis and chest congestions. It contains anti-oxidant flavonoids called Thymonin.
Thyme contains a volatile oil called Thymol, which is what gives it the characteristic aroma. Thyme is normally available in both forms – fresh and dried. Since the shelf life of fresh Thyme is very less, the dried form is what is better to use.
Thyme is a good addition for cooking meat in all forms. You can also use it in cooking fish and other vegetables as well. Add a sprig of Thyme to your tea if you are suffering from breathing problems or, cough.
Sage is a herb that is native to the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Seas. It contains a lot of volatile oils, flavonoids and phenolic acids.
Sage is used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma and atherosclerosis. Sage has a very delicate flavor and hence should be used in your food only right before serving. Normally sage is used as a seasoning for tomato sauce and to garnish pizzas, omelets and a variety of meat dishes.
Rosemary is another herb that is native to the Mediterranean and the Asian region. You will find it being used in a lot of Mediterranean cuisines.
You can add a whole sprig to season soups, stews and meat dishes. Keep in mind that it is advisable to remove it before serving because of the hardness of the sprig.
Who doesn’t like the flavor of peppermint. Peppermint is known to soothe stomach and relieves digestive discomfort. It contains a phytonutrient called Perillyl alcohol, found in peppermint oil.
It contains a good amount of vitamin A and C, and Omega 3 fatty acids as antioxidants. The plant is primarily found in Europe and the Middle East, but is now being cultivated in many other parts. Peppermint is high on Menthol. It is used to flavor ice-creams, chewing gums etc. You can use it in limited quantities in foods that you want to flavor.
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