Look no further than your garden, or your local organic garden centre, for healing herbs that do double duty as ingredients for countless recipes.
From mint and parsley to dill and coriander, it’s easy to turn your garden into a fragrant, edible market that offers up healthy benefits and tasty additions to some of your favourite dishes.
Here’s a guide to get you started:
Nature’s breath freshener also promotes digestion, while soothing sore stomachs from inflammation and indigestion, while keeping nausea at bay. Soothing and cooling, mint is also a potent decongestant, helping to clear the nose, throat and lungs, making it ideal for asthmatics and anyone suffering from the common cold. A natural antiseptic, this easy-to-grow herb is also excellent as a face cleanser.
Cooking Tip: Place fresh leaves in boiling water for a refreshing herbal tea, chop and add to steamed vegetables for a minty flavour, blend mint leaves with raw chocolate for a sweet treat, or simply add as a garnish to salads.
Also known to alleviate bad breath, parsley is much more than a garnish. Eaten alone or in your favourite meal, this Mediterranean herb is said to boost immunity, aid digestion and protect again certain cancers. Arthritis sufferers have found it lessens inflammation, while its folic acid content keeps the blood healthy. Others use it to treat urinary tract infections, rather than traditional antibiotics.
Cooking Tip: Beyond garnish, parsley adds a delicate flavour to globally inspired dishes from Italian to Middle Eastern. It’s also a healthful ingredient in vege-packed smoothies, simple salads and raw vegan fare.
Got the hiccups? A dose of dill is said to stop them in their tracks, while calming digestion at the same time. Dill is also a carminative, which throughout history has been used to treat insomnia, diarreah, menstrual disorders, breathing issues and cancer. An immune system booster, this powerful herb, with its anti-inflammatory benefits, is also great for gum health.
Cooking Tip: Easy to grow dill is an ideal accompaniment in vegetable and soup dishes, while also adding flavour to baking. Add it to pesto, toss into salads and top on freshly boiled potatoes.
Rich in iron, manganese and calcium, this classic herb is also a good source of dietary fibre, which can protect against digestive disorders and diseases. Also known to have antibacterial properties, washing fruit and vegetables with thyme oil can ward of bacteria and act as a natural food preservative.
Cooking Tip: Make your own thyme vinaigrette or vegetable stock, add flavour to tofu scramble, toss it into your favourite pasta sauce or simply chop and include in salads.
While a member of the mint family, this Asian native has flavour and health benefits of its own. Rich in antioxidants, which destroy free radicals, basil is a popular beauty herb for those who want to stop the clock. Brimming with vitamins A, K and C, it also has health-boosting magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium.
Cooking Tip: Toss it with chopped tomatoes, and add it to dishes that rely heavily on onions, garlic and olives. Steep the leaves in boiled water to make a delicious tea, which may help relieve nausea and other stomach upsets.
Besides its distinct flavour, coriander (or cilantro) boasts undeniable health benefits that have made it a much-loved herb throughout history. A natural anti-histamine, it calms skin inflammation and disorders, while treating mouth ulcers, indigestion, as well as high cholesterol. Coriander has also been used to treat eye concerns such as conjunctivitis.
Cooking Tip: Every part of this versatile herb can be used in cooking, from the roots and steams to its leaves and seeds. Globally adored, it’s a staple amongst many cultures that rely on it for its zesty flavour. Add it to dishes boasting avocado, spices, coconut, couscous, garlic, ginger and chilli.