Oregano is not only a great addition to any Mexican or Mediterranean dish, it’s also chock-full of nutrients essential to the body. Oregano, which means “mountain joy”, is a very common and easy-to-find herb, and it is readily available throughout the year in the United States. In the Mediterranean, it’s available perennially. Oregano has an aromatic, warm, and mildly bitter flavor profile, almost “balsamic” in taste. There are tons of oregano health benefits, some of which may be quite surprising!
Health Benefits of Oregano
It’s a Natural Antibacterial/Antimicrobial Agent
An often forgotten oregano health benefit is its antibacterial/antimicrobial properties. Oregano is excellent at killing bacteria and microbes. Essential oils from oregano can kill MRSA and Listeria. Adding essential oils from oregano to disinfectants and hand soaps is a great way to kill tons of harmful and deadly microbes.
It Fights Cancer Cells
Another amazing oregano health benefit is that it helps prevent the growth of cancer cells. A chemical found in oregano, carnosol, has been proven to stop cancer cells from growing and can kill cancer cells altogether. Carnosol has shown that it has anti-cancer properties in prostate, skin, colon, and breast cancer.
It Can Be Used as a Detox For Various Ailments
Incorporating oregano into your food encourages an increase in sweat production, which can rid the lungs of phlegm, can break fevers, and relieve diarrhea. Additionally, oregano helps relieve symptoms of cold and flu viruses, heartburn, and menstrual pain. It also helps to increase the flow of bile from the gall bladder into the intestines, which can relieve several gastrointestinal disturbances.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Oregano has omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to level-out your body’s cholesterol levels. It also reduces inflammation within the body’s cardiovascular system, which helps to prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), strokes, and heart attacks.
It’s Excellent at Fighting Allergies
Oregano is a powerful, all-natural antihistamine. The flavonoid called quercitin, which is found in oregano leaves, is a blocking agent of inflammation caused by allergic reactions. It can be used in treating hives, anaphylactic shock, swollen throat, rashes, venomous bites, sinus congestion, itching, hay fever, etc. This oregano health benefit is a bit of a money-saver; it’s cheaper than buying expensive antihistamines.
Oregano Nutritional Value
Not only are oregano health benefits plentiful, the herb also provides many key nutrients to the human body. Oregano is an excellent source of vitamin K, an essential vitamin which is important in regulating normal blood clotting. It assists in the body healing properly from injury. Vitamin K also transports calcium throughout the body, thus, improving bone health. Manganese, another key nutrient found in oregano, is also excellent in promoting bone health, and increases metabolic activity in the human body. Oregano is also a fantastic supplier of iron, calcium, and dietary fiber, all of which are vital to keeping the body healthy. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, per every two (2) teaspoons of dried oregano, these nutrients provide the following percentages of dietary value:
- Vitamin K: 14%
- Manganese: 5%
- Iron: 4%
- Calcium: 3%
- Fiber: 3%
In addition to the plethora of oregano health benefits, oregano is a very popular and essential herb used in Italian, Mexican, and Greek cooking. It’s used very often in different seasoning blends, such as Italian Seasoning. Adding oregano to meats, such as chicken, can improve overall flavor and can even bring out the meat’s own natural flavors. Since oregano has a robust and woody taste and aroma, it adds a bit of zip to dishes.
Taking advantage of oregano health benefits is easy to do, since so many well-known dishes use it as an ingredient. A classic recipe which uses oregano as an important ingredient is pizza sauce. It’s actually hard to imagine what pizza sauce would taste like without herbs such as oregano! The following is a recipe to make your own quick, easy, and super tasty pizza sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
8 ounce can tomato sauce
6 ounce can tomato paste
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1.) In a large skillet, melt butter with the oil. Add the onion and garlic, and saute until soft and transparent.
2.) Add tomato sauce and tomato paste and stir until smooth.
3.) Add remaining ingredients and bring to slow simmer.
4.) Simmer for 30-60 minutes (or not at all depending on your taste and time frame).
5.) Remove the bay leaf and spread the sauce on your prepared pizza dough.
All in all, oregano health benefits are extremely important, and perhaps, even a bit understated. Not only does oregano provide us with key and invaluable nutrients, it highlights some of the most revered and well-loved recipes. It’s amazing how much use a simple herb can have! What are some of your favorite oregano uses? Do you have any favorite recipes which utilize oregano? Feel free to share your experiences or thoughts, and ask any oregano-related questions that you may have!