Nutrition Experts

Nutrition value of fresh herbs

Question:

Do fresh herbs like basil and parsley have any nutritional value?

Answer:

Yes, herbs such as basil, parsley, oregano, mint and rosemary contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (beneficial plant compounds). This makes sense because herbs are plant foods, just like vegetables.

For example, basil is rich in vitamin K and also provides vitamin A and small amounts of magnesium, calcium, folate, potassium and iron. Parsley is also abundant in vitamin K, as well as vitamins A and C and folate.

Preliminary research suggests that the antioxidants and other phytonutrients in herbs may offer protection against diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes and heart disease, although more study is needed.

The potential health benefits of herbs look promising, but one drawback is that we typically add just small amounts to foods. Most studies use significantly larger amounts or, more commonly, extracts of the key compounds instead of the whole herb.

One thing's for sure, though: herbs (and spices, for that matter) add wonderful flavor to foods, which can replace some of the salt in dishes and help trim the sodium in your diet.