By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.
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“It is not just a great pizza seasoning. Oregano is a medicinal herb and spice”
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is an herb prominent in the Mediterranean diet, and has been shown to possess several bioactive properties including anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. In traditional medicine, oregano has been used for respiratory conditions (i.e. asthma, bronchitis, cough), gastrointestinal (i.e. diarrhoea, indigestions, stomach ache), anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, menstrual disorders, and diabetes (1), (2), (3).
The benefits of oregano on human health have been associated and attributed to the phytochemicals found therein.
- Natural flavour and Anti-oxidant
Oregano is a herb that has been approved in the United States as a spice and natural flavour that can reduce oxidation. A recent study reported that oregano extract can maintain the physicochemical, sensory acceptance, reduce lipid and protein oxidation of lamb meat after frozen storage after 120 days (4). These results suggest that that oregano prepared using a variety of extraction methods may be a promising alternative to the synthetic food preservatives.
- Good for hair and skin
Modern research reveals the presence of polyphenols in oregano leaves (5). In the right doses, these polyphenols can give you dandruff-free hair and scar-free skin.
- Relieves pain and inflammation
Caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, quercetin, luteolin, and their derivatives in oregano play an active role in reducing pain and inflammation. Carvacrol, a major component in its essential oil, can heal wounds, cuts, gastric ulcers, and cancers (6), (7).
Therefore, oregano may help relieve inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual cramps, muscle pain, toothache, and insect bites. You can also make oregano-based topical formulas like cream, lotion, or diluted oil – for external use (8).
- Aromatherapy uses: (8)
- Strong antiviral and antibacterial properties which can help destroy the organisms that contribute to skin infections.
- Anti-parasitic properties which is useful for digestive malfunctions.
- Strengthens the immune system.
- Increases the joint and muscles flexibility
- Improves our respiratory health.
- A Nutrient-Dense Spice (9)
Oregano is a good source of fibre. Fibre works in the body to bind to bile salts and cancer-causing toxins in the colon and remove them from the body. This forces the body to break down cholesterol to make more bile salts. These are just some of the reasons that diets high in fibre have been shown to lower high cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
It is an excellent source of vitamin K, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of iron and calcium.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Next time you enjoy a slice of pizza, garnish it with some fresh oregano.
- Oregano goes great with healthy sautéed mushrooms and onions.
- Adding a few sprigs of fresh oregano to a container of olive oil will infuse the oil with the essence of the herb.
- Fresh oregano makes an aromatic addition to omelettes.
- Sprinkle some chopped oregano onto homemade garlic bread.
- Add oregano to salad dressings.