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Green Living - Culinary herbs for health - 2 September


General

- Edible herbs are easily grown in your garden, they need a warm sunny spot, plenty of water, good drainage and good soil. Some of the Mediterranean herbs don't need much water or good soil but all require good drainage. 
- Raised beds are ideal to grow most herbs. Build from untreated wood and fill with soil and compost. Site in FULL sun. Few herbs do well in the shade.
- Most herbs do well in the summertime but quite a few will grow over winter and flower and seed in the summer
- Many herbs used for cooking not only flavor and color our foods, but also have important health giving properties

Garlic
Not only makes food taste great but has a long history of health promoting effects

The main important constituents of garlic are:
- Allicin - only produced when garlic is finely chopped or crushed. It is antibiotic and antifungal (good for athlete's foot!) and its effects decrease over time and with cooking. Microwaving destroys the effects totally.
- Use sparingly as raw garlic can be irritant and some people are allergic to it
- Sulfides - only released when chopped or crushed (whole or uncrushed garlic have no health benefits) and are not destroyed by cooking. It has shown to help circulation, reduces high blood pressure and reduced cholesterol, as well as boosting the immune system.
- Contains selenium - which helps with numerous activities such as preventing cancer well as repels vampires!
- Parsley can be eaten to reduce the smell of garlic on the breath.


Parsley
- A highly nutritious and delicious herb that has been used for centuries
- High in vitamin K (important for blood clotting), vitamin C, vitamin A and some iron
- Contains important volatile oils and flavinoids which help inhibit tumor formation, especially in the lungs. These oils also act as chemoprotectants, protecting the body from certain carcinogens such as those found in cigarette smoke
- Is a rich source of antioxidants (vitamin C, A beta carotenes) which help keep the immune system healthy as well as help prevent a large range of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, asthma and arthritis.
- Good source of folic acid ( a B vitamin) which has been shown to reduce the formation of homocysteine which is implicated in heart disease, as well as reducing cancers of rapidly dividing cells such as those in the cervix.
- So don't just leave the parsley garnish on the plate, eat it!


Ginger
- Is a native to India and China and is the rhizome (root) of the plant
- Ginger is a known diaphoretic, meaning it causes one to sweat, so is useful as a warming herb, especially if you have a cold or flu to break the fevers associated with these conditions. 
- Very useful as a digestive aid, increasing the production of digestive fluids and saliva as well as helping to relieve indigestion, gas pains, diarrhea and stomach cramps
- Ginger root is also used to treat nausea related to both motion sickness and morning sickness and has been found to be even more effective than Dramamine in curbing motion sickness, without causing drowsiness. 
- Ginger's anti-inflammatory properties help relieve pain and reduce inflammation associated with arthritis, rheumatism and muscle spasms. 
- Other uses for ginger root include the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems by loosening and expelling phlegm from the lungs.


Turmeric
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa ), also known as curcuma, produces a root that is used to produce the vibrant yellow spice used as a culinary spice so often used in curry dishes. 
- Turmeric is native to India and parts of Asia, and is a relative of cardamom and ginger 
- Today's herbalists and naturopaths consider turmeric to be one of nature's most potent anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.
-  Turmeric may help treat a variety of conditions related to inflammation and antioxidant damage, including cataracts, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. It is also used to treatment of scabies and digestive disorders, promote wound healing, and strengthen the immune system
- Some studies indicate that turmeric's ability to lower cholesterol may provide the same heart-protective benefits as its close relative ginger, including blood clot prevention and reduced blood pressure.
- Turmeric helps detoxify the body, and protects the liver from the damaging effects of alcohol, toxic chemicals, and even some pharmaceutical drugs. It also stimulates the production of bile, which is needed to digest fat. 
- Turmeric also guards the stomach by killing salmonella bacteria and protozoa that can cause diarrhea.


Dill
- Dill is native to southern Russia, western Africa and the Mediterranean region
- Dill's name comes from the old Norse word "dilla" which means "to lull". This name reflects dill's traditional uses as both a carminative stomach soother and an insomnia reliever. The emperor Charlemagne placed it on his table during royal feasts to help with overindulgence!
- Dill's volatile oils qualify it as a "chemoprotective" food (much like parsley) that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens, such as the benzopyrenes that are part of cigarette smoke, charcoal grill smoke, and the smoke produced by rubbish incinerators.
- The volatile oils in dill been studied for their ability to prevent bacterial overgrowth. 
- Dill and dill seed is a very good source of calcium. Calcium is important for reducing the bone loss that occurs after menopause and in some conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It is also a good source of dietary fibre and a good source of the minerals manganese, iron and magnesium.


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