Health Benefits of Oregano
Some of the most impressive and important health benefits of oregano include its ability to protect the immune system, prevent the onset of chronic disease, improve digestion, detoxify the body, strengthen the bones, improve heart health, increase energy levels, and even protect against diabetes.
Oregano is a popular herb that many people think of as merely a spice to improve or enhance the flavor of their food, but in truth, this perennial herb, with the scientific name of Origanum vulgare, has a wealth of health benefits that most people don’t realize at all. Native to southwest Eurasia and the Mediterranean area, oregano has been a valuable part of both culinary and alternative medicine treatments for thousands of years. Oregano is actually closely related to mint, and its genus is actually in the same family as Mentha. For this reason, the two share many similar organic components and have many of the same health benefits. The leaves of oregano are the most commonly used part of the plant, but strangely, the aroma and flavor of the leaves is far greater when the herb is dried than when the leaves are fresh, which is somewhat unusual for an herb.
In folk medicine and herbal remedies from Australia to Egypt, oregano has developed a popular following as a veritable cure-all for many health concerns, but the research to back up all of those claims is still hotly debated. However, there are a number of potent active ingredients in oregano that have been deeply studied, and their effects on the body are not in question. Oil of oregano is an extremely concentrated form of oregano, and is used to treat a number of conditions, but it should always be diluted, as it is very potent. In culinary applications, where it is most commonly seen, it is used to flavor everything from soups, sauces, and curries to meat dishes, pizza, pasta, vegetables, and even salads. Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the diverse and impressive health benefits of oregano.
Health Benefits of Oregano
Immune Health: Two of the most important components of oregano are rosmarinic acid and thymol, both of which are powerful antioxidant compounds that have been closely linked to reducing oxidative stress in the body. Free radicals are the destructive byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause cancer and other chronic diseases, so adding oregano to your diet by sprinkling it on your meals can seriously improve your immune health and keep your body safe from some of the most dangerous and silent killers.
Antibacterial Activity: On a more basic immune system note, oregano also has clear antibacterial properties, which are again due to the presence of thymol and carvacrol. These important organic compounds can defend the body against a wide range of bacteria that can affect the skin, the gut, and other parts of the body. Oregano is also a slightly stimulating agent, which can increase the production of white blood cells and speed up the metabolism, making recovery from illness even faster.
Digestive Health: Oregano is packed with fiber, so despite its small size, it can have a major impact on your digestive system. Fiber is an essential element of a healthy digestive system, as it can increase the bulk of your stool and stimulate peristaltic motion, which moves food through the digestive tract and excretes it efficiently. Also, fiber helps to maintain the health of the gut and increases nutrient uptake, so the food you eat does more for you!
Heart Health: Oregano is a natural form of omega-3 fatty acids, the beneficial type of cholesterol that actually improves your heart health, whereas omega-6 fatty acids have a negative impact. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids help to rebalance your cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system, thereby helping to prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes!
Detoxify the Body: The nutrient-rich makeup of oregano, including high content of manganese, calcium, iron, vitamin K, fiber, and a wide range of other organic compounds, makes this helpful herb an ideal candidate for detoxifying the body. Research has shown that oregano can help liver function and speed up the process of toxin elimination.
Bone Health: As we get older, our bones begin to weaken and break down, so ensuring that we get enough vitamins and minerals in our early years is important. Calcium, iron, and manganese are some of the most crucial minerals for bone health, and oregano has significant amounts of all of them, making it great for people who want to protect themselves against osteoporosis later in life.
Energy Levels: By improving the functionality of the metabolism, thanks to B-vitamins and its unique organic composition, the body is rejuvenated and energized. The increase in circulation, due to the presence of iron and increased levels of hemoglobin, helps to fully oxygenate the cells and muscles of the body, thereby increasing energy and strength.
A Final Word of Warning: Although some people who are allergic to mint and other herbaceous perennial plants may experience some discomfort while eating or touching oregano, it is not commonly known as an allergenic substance and the symptoms of an allergic reaction to oregano are very mild. Toss some oregano into your next meal and see just how beneficial it can really be!