Improve The Taste of Your Food Without Sodium. Try RosemaryNutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Sodium is a mineral that significantly improves the taste of your food. “Sodium improves the sensory properties of foods, by increasing saltiness, decreasing bitterness, and increasing sweetness and other congruent flavor effects,” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
This unique property of sodium may increase your likelihood of consuming it in excess. Credible research shows that only 12% of the U.S. population has the right balance of sodium in their bodies. And high sodium consumption is associated with hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
So it is important that you monitor your sodium intake to remain healthy while at the same time identify healthy options to improve the taste of your food. One way to do this is to utilize spices and seasonings such as onion, garlic, thyme, mint, sage, black pepper, cinnamon, tarragon, cumin and ginger. Using these spices not only adds flavor but also provides a ton of critical nutrients that you need to remain healthy such as calcium, magnesium, potassium as well as vitamins. Yes, as unbelievable as this might sound, spices and seasonings also contain nutrients.
Rosemary is one of those seasonings that can be used to add flavor to our food. It is part of the mint family and one of the herbs I cook with pretty often.
Native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary is popular in Mediterranean and Italian dishes.
It has been reported that during the Middle Ages, rosemary was placed under pillows to prevent nightmares and disturbances from evil spirits. It was even burned in houses to keep the black plague from entering.
You may not have to worry about the black plague anymore, but you do have to worry about diseases like cancer, diabetes and dementia.
The good news is you can be proactive about fighting disease through nutrition and the foods that you eat. And rosemary may be one of the secret ingredients.
Let’s take a look at some of the nutrients in 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary.
- Calcium, 11mg. An adult between 19-50 years of age (male or female) in general should aim to have about 1,000 mg. of calcium per day. This mineral is needed to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Calcium is also needed for clotting of the blood to stop bleeding and for proper functioning of the nerves, muscles and heart. The National Cancer Institute conducted a study that monitored calcium intake in 135,000 men and women. The subjects who had a calcium intake of more than 700 mg. per day had a 35-45% reduced risk of cancer of the distal (lower) part of the colon than those who had a calcium intake of 500 mg. or less per day.
- Potassium, 23 mg. Potassium may help lower blood pressure by balancing out negative effects of salt. According to Harvard Health, “[w]hen it comes to fighting high blood pressure, the average American diet delivers too much sodium and too little potassium. Eating to reverse this imbalance could prevent or control high blood pressure and translate into fewer heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease.”
- Vitamin A, 99 IU. Vitamin A helps with bone growth and reproductive health. It is mainly known for improving your eyesight, skin health and cell regeneration.
There are other benefits of rosemary as well.
Rosemary may improve memory.
A study involving 53 (24 boys, 29 girls) Ukrainian students (ages 13-15) showed that rosemary increased short-term image memory and numerical memory. The students were randomly divided into two groups, the control group and the rosemary group. The control group was not exposed to any essential oils, while the rosemary group was exposed to rosemary essential oil (it was simply sprayed in the room where they were. They were not informed that they were being exposed to the essential oil).
Image memory was tested by showing the students a chart with 16 images for 20 seconds. The students were then asked to reproduce as many images as they could in one minute.
For the numerical memory test, students were shown a chart with 12 double digit numbers for 20 seconds. After the 20 seconds, the students recorded as many numbers as they could remember.
The rosemary group overall had better results, and gender did not appear to have an influence.
It has been reported that in ancient Greece, students would place rosemary sprigs in their hair when studying for exams. They may have been on to something.
This is not the only study that has tested rosemary and memory. Another study with healthy adults (65 and older) found that being exposed to rosemary oil improved prospective memory. Prospective memory involves remembering to execute a planned action (like taking medicine). In the study, test scores were 15% higher than the adults who were not exposed to rosemary.
Rosemary may have anticancer effects.
“Rosemary extract has been reported to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic and anticancer properties,” reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Rosemary extract contains many polyphenols with carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid found in highest concentrations.”
Polyphenols are chemicals naturally found in plants and are believed to help prevent many types of disease.
The NIH reports that several in vitro studies using colon cancer cell lines have shown that rosemary extract exhibited anticancer properties. For example, evidence was found that rosemary extract decreased colony formation of colon cancer cells. Rosemary extract also proved to inhibit proliferation of breast, bladder, cervical, ovarian and prostate cancer cells.
Rosemary may help prevent diabetes.
One study found that both oregano and rosemary may interfere with a diabetes-related enzyme. Rosemary may also help lower blood glucose levels. If you are currently taking medication for diabetes, however, talk to your doctor before you incorporate rosemary into your diet. You do not want anything disrupting how your medication works.
Rosemary may relieve muscle pain and spasms.
Several reports claim that rosemary oil applied topically may help provide relief from aches and pains, including ones from sports injuries, arthritis and headaches.
If you suffer from chronic pain, speak with your doctor about using rosemary as an alternative therapy. Long-term use of painkillers can have negative consequences, like nutrient depletion, addiction and digestive issues. So sometimes seeking natural methods to relieve our pain may be greatly beneficial in the long run.
Rosemary may help with hair loss.
You may experience hair loss due to a number of reasons, including aging, genetics, drinking too much alcohol or due to an unhealthy, inflamed scalp.
More research is needed, but some studies have found evidence that when rosemary oil is applied to the scalp it may help prevent hair loss by preventing the growth of fungus and bacteria that can cause dandruff, inflammation and eventually hair loss.
A study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that involved mice with testosterone-related hair loss, found that topical application of rosemary leaf extract could regrow their hair.
Rosemary may be a nice addition to your oral hygiene routine.
Since rosemary contains antibacterial agents, it may help freshen your breath and help prevent the growth of bad bacteria that can cause gingivitis, plaque build-up and cavities. Talk to your dentist and doctor about possibly adding a drop of rosemary oil to your toothpaste. There are also toothpastes with rosemary that you can buy.
Rosemary may help prevent thrombosis.
Thrombosis occurs when blood clots block your blood vessels. Causes of thrombosis include obesity, certain medicines, immobility and disease or injury to the leg veins.
A study with mice found that both rosemary and thyme had antithrombotic effects. Researchers believe it probably is due to these herbs’ ability to inhibit platelet (also called thrombocytes) formation and ability to stimulate endothelial cells (cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels).
So how do you get more rosemary in your daily diet?
Rosemary is a great seasoning for pretty much anything, from pasta sauces, meat and vegetable dishes, soups and stews.
You can also make your own rosemary tea. It is a great way to sip something soothing and rich in antioxidants.
I’m looking forward to making this simple side dish of Garlic-Rosemary Smashed Potatoes.
All you need to make this dish is…
- 1 pound of baby potatoes, halved
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt (I plan to significantly reduce the salt )
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
Are there any precautions you need to take with rosemary?
As a flavoring agent used in cooking, rosemary does not appear to pose any threat.
Since there are a limited amount of studies regarding rosemary and children, it is not recommended for medicinal use in children under the age of 18.
Adults and children should avoid taking rosemary oil orally.
Higher does of rosemary have also been reported to cause miscarriage. It is usually safe for pregnant and nursing women to eat food that has been seasoned with rosemary, but speak with your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing.
Some reports say that people with high blood pressure, ulcers, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis should not take rosemary.
If you have any existing health conditions or are taking any medications (prescription and/or over-the-counter), it is always best to speak with your doctor about incorporating unfamiliar foods into your diet. Certain foods can alter drug-metabolizing systems in the body. You always want to avoid drug interactions so that you will be healthy and your medication will be effective.
Enjoy your healthy life!
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