Oregano is a popular herb and staple flavour enhancer in several cuisines across the globe. It renders a bold flavour and warmness to dishes, together with a tinge of mild sweetness. A native herb to southwest Eurasia and the Mediterranean region goes with the scientific name Origanum vulgare. This flavourful herb has been a key culinary ingredient and traditional medicine for ages. Oregano can be used fresh, dried or as an oil and all forms are known to have indispensable health benefiting properties.
The leaves of oregano are chiefly used part of the plant. Its taste range from bitter, zesty, and astringent to sweet and mild. The flavour and aroma of the herb are best in its dried form than the fresh one. This wonder herb packs some essential nutrients and is bestowed with bioactive compounds that exhibit potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial activities. Chinese and European traditional medicine largely used oregano to treat cough, asthma, diarrhoea, stomach ache and menstrual problems.
This herb is used as a natural flavouring agent and preservatives in an array of foods. Besides these, oregano is also available in the form of essential oil and capsule. Oregano essential oil is highly concentrated and strong, hence should be always diluted with a carrier oil before using.
Oregano abounds with some impressive and healthy nutrients. A teaspoon of dried oregano leaves comprises protein, fibre and carbs. It is a rich source of minerals, like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron that supports uplift overall health and well-being. Furthermore, oregano is also imbued with essential vitamins K, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, and folate.
The essential oils contain active compounds such as thymol, ocimene, carvacrol, limonene, terpinene and caryophyllene. These compounds are credited to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory traits that prevent cell damage caused by free radicals and lowers the risk of chronic diseases.
Potential Health Benefits Of Oregano
The goodness of active compound thymol and carvacrol in oregano is attributed to have potent antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. These active compounds help the body protect against bacterial infections. Adding fresh oregano leaves or essential oil to the diet plan may help to trigger immunity and keep infections at bay. Several pieces of evidence have revealed that oregano has more antioxidant activities than apples, as it is packed with vitamins A and C and including these herbs may also boost antioxidants levels in the body.
Promotes Gut Health
Fibre is an essential nutrient for the healthy functioning of the digestive system, that adds bulk to the stool, regularise bowel movements and eliminates waste efficiently. The richness of fibre in oregano stimulates smooth functioning of the digestive system and boost gut health. Incorporating this herb regularly into your meal plan may prevent gut-related problems like bloating, indigestion, and other gastrointestinal woes.
Treats Skin Diseases
The potent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial traits of oregano aids in treating skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, rashes, and several skin conditions. It is also known for its antiseptic activities. Topical use of creams, ointments and lotions containing oregano essential oil is beneficial in alleviating skin inflammation and infection. Furthermore, oregano extracts are valuable in repairing damaged tissues and regeneration of new skin cells.
Remedies Viral Infections
The bioactive compound carvacrol in oregano extracts exhibits strong antiviral activities. Studies have disclosed that carvacrol directly targets the RNA of certain viruses and impedes the viral pathogen from infecting the human body. Having a concoction or freshly brewed tea of oregano works well during a flu attack and can lessen the severity of cough, cold, sore throat, and fever.
Oregano and its essential oil are highly beneficial in enhancing mood and brain functions. The active compound carvacrol in oregano is responsible for improving dopamine levels and easing depression. According to the British Journal of Nutrition, the regular addition of oregano extract is known to uplift mental health and well-being.
Being intrinsically rich in antioxidants, oregano has the power not only to neutralize free radical damage but also support to prevent certain types of cancer. Several studies have disclosed that the presence of bioactive compounds rosmarinic acid and thymol in oregano works to kill tumour cells and impede their growth. Adding this aromatic herb also suppress the growth and transmission of colon cancer.
Augments Heart Health
Oregano is an incredible medicinal herb laden with therapeutic properties that are known to safeguard heart cells. Evidence has shown that oregano extracts are valuable in controlling blood pressure by improving blood flow in the vessels. Furthermore, it also diminishes LDL cholesterol levels and averts the build of fat in the blood vessels, thus enhancing cardiac muscle function and lowering the risk of heart disease.
Ways To Add Oregano Into Your Diet
Fresh oregano leaves can be used like cilantro to garnish, and dried ones should be added while seasoning so that heat releases its flavour. Some of the ways fresh/dried oregano can be used include:
Dash it liberally as topping on pizzas, salads, and soups.
Add it to flavour omelettes, frittatas, and stir-fries.
Marinate oregano and other spices with meat.
Garnish oregano while making garlic bread.
Infuse with olive oil and can be used as a salad dressing oil.
Vinaigrettes with oregano works a great flavour enhancer to Italian dishes.