This fantastic article was written by Sarah Biren, a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. We encourage you to check out her website here!
Whenever we hear the word “diet”, the first food that comes to mind is salad. After all, it’s low-calorie and full of nutrients from the leafy greens and other vegetables along with an assortment of nuts, seeds, or fruits for flavor. What could be healthier?
Here’s the thing – salads can become repetitive and bland with the same old lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and so forth. This is where fresh herbs come in – they’re a fantastic way to liven up your salads, adding new flavors and incredible health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, boosting brain health, and protecting the heart.
10 Salad Recipes with Beneficial Herbs
Dill has been used since the days of the Bible to relieve anxiety, promote better sleep, and calm an upset stomach. It surprisingly also contains more calcium than milk per 100g serving, 83 mg more to be precise! (1)
Recipe: Cucumber Salad with Dill Dressing This is a perfect last-minute salad to prepare with simple ingredients for a creamy taste.
Studies have found that rosemary enhances memory and cognition. (2) Not only that, but two tablespoons provides 16% of your daily value of vitamin A which promotes healthy skin, better vision, and protects against mouth and lung cancers. For those who are anemic, this herb contains iron, along with potassium, magnesium, and lots of B vitamins. This herb also contains manganese which is associated with lowering the risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer. (3)
Recipe: Rosemary Lemon Garlic Chickpea Salad This dish is bursting with flavor and an ideal choice when you want something filling.
You may have heard of lemongrass in herbal teas, but eaten fresh it can also give you benefits such as relieving colitis, stomach inflammation, and indigestion. The prime chemical component in lemongrass is citral which gives it a lemony flavor, as well as powerful antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Lemongrass is also high in potassium which helps controls heart rate and blood pressure. (4)
Recipe: Spring Salad with Lemongrass Vinaigrette This salad can serve as an appetizer or a full meal with some added protein. If you like spicy food, this one is for you!
Researchers have found marjoram tea to improve digestive function and alleviate disorders such as constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, and stomach cramps. In herb form, marjoram contains antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral compounds that protects the body from diseases such as the common cold, measles, influenza, food poisoning, mumps, and other infections.
What’s more, marjoram improves cardiovascular health by regularizing blood pressure levels and lowering risk of hypertension. This herb can also reduce inflammation and aid conditions like asthma, sinus headaches, migraines, fever, and muscle aches. (5)
Recipe: Melon Salad with Arugula, Fennel, and Marjoram If you have never had melon in a salad before, this recipe is definitely worth a try. The flavors in this dish transport you into summer.
Cilantro is an underrated powerhouse of benefits: (6)
- Lowers levels of bad cholesterol in the blood and in the arteries and veins, and increases healthy LDL cholesterol levels
- Aids bone growth and durability
- Fight vision disorders like macular degeneration
- Prevents stomach issues like nausea and vomiting
- Lessens stress and strain on your eyes
- Alleviates eczema and dry skin
- Fights fungal infections
- Improves dry skin
Recipe: Carrot, Red Onion, and Cilantro Salad. Here’s a versatile dish that can complement any meal from a potluck to a barbecue, to a quiet dinner at home. This is one salad that is best served warm.
Basil is well-known herb, but not many people are aware of its high content of antioxidants which help prevent heart attacks, stroke, and atherosclerosis. It is also an antibacterial, and a study has found it able to treat respiratory issues and tuberculosis symptoms. (7)
Recipe: Tomato Basil Salad For anyone who loves fresh tomatoes, this one is for you! This is an easy dish to cook with ingredients you already have at home, and the result is well worth it.
Herbalists have been using sage for centuries to treat swelling sprains, ulcers, and rheumatism. Sage contains rosmarinic acid which is an anticarcinogenic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory. (8) Researchers have studied this popular home remedy and found it be beneficial for:
- Lowering cholesterol and blood glucose (9)
- Soothing sore throats and coughs
- Aiding digestive problems
- Alleviating menstrual symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats during menopause by taking sage tablets (10)
- Relieving Alzheimer’s symptoms with sage aromatherapy (14)
Recipe: Pea, Butter Lettuce & Herb Salad This versatile dish can either be served raw or cooked. The end flavor is delicious so don’t skip on any of the spices!
Adding thyme to your diet can decrease high blood pressure symptoms, and thyme extract can reduce LDL levels while increasing HDL cholesterol levels. This herb can also protect the body from food poisoning and other food-borne illness. This makes it a perfect addition to salads! (11)
Recipe: Roast Potatoes with Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette This salad is like a comfort food, warm, hearty, and full of flavor with hardly any effort.
Oregano is one of the main spices in the Mediterranean diet and a proven superfood. Oregano contains many plant chemical compounds that promote health and fight diseases, such as:
- Common cold
- Mild fevers
- Upset stomach
- Menstruation cramps (12)
Recipe: Greek Salad with Fresh Oregano This is ideal for anyone who likes the Mediterranean diet. Increase the portion and you have a full meal with tons of health benefits.
Best for last, mint is high in antioxidants, and menthol, which is the compound that gives mint its distinct aroma and contains a large array of health-promoting properties and nutrients. Benefits include:
- Alleviates allergy symptoms
- Eases digestive issues
- Relieves headaches and nausea
- Clears congestion and other respiratory disorders
- Relieves from pain and fatigue. (13)
Recipe: Quinoa Salad With Fresh Mint and Parsley Any salad list cannot be complete without a quinoa recipe! This is an excellent make-in-advance option for a flavorful addition to any meal.
Also, check this out from fellow blog Qunol CoQ10 : “Yum! These look like great heart-healthy salad toppings. Here are five more foods that can help support heart health” https://www.qunol.com/5-foods-help-keep-cholesterol-check/
- Diet and Fitness Today. Dill Calcium Content http://www.dietandfitnesstoday.com/calcium-in-dill.php Accessed: September 19, 2017.
- Moss M1, Cook J, Wesnes K, Duckett P. Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults. Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12690999 Published: January, 2003. Accessed: August 31, 2017
- Robert CG Martin, Jiyoung Ahn, Susan A Nowell, David W Hein, Mark A Doll, Benjamin D Martini and Christine B Ambrosone. Biomed Central. Association between manganese superoxide dismutase promoter gene polymorphism and breast cancer survival. Breast Cancer Research20068:R45 https://doi.org/10.1186/bcr1532© Martin et al., licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2006. https://breast-cancer-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/bcr1532 Published: July 19, 2006. Accessed: August 31, 2017
- Umesh Rudrappa. Nutrition and you. Lemongrass nutrition facts. http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/lemongrass.html Accessed: August 31, 2017.
- Dr. Mercola. Marjoram: A Versatile Herb for Cooking and Aromatherapy. http://articles.mercola.com/herbs-spices/marjoram.aspx Accessed: August 31, 2017.
- Dr. Mercola. Cilantro: Why You Should Choose This Unique, Pungent Herb. http://articles.mercola.com/herbs-spices/cilantro.aspx Accessed: August 31, 2017.
- Dr. Mercola. What Is Basil Good For? http://foodfacts.mercola.com/basil.html Accessed: August 31, 2017.
- Phytochemicals. What is Rosmarinic acid? http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/rosmarinic-acid.php Accessed: August 31, 2017.
- Kianbakht S, Dabaghian FH. Improved glycemic control and lipid profile in hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients consuming Salvia officinalis L. leaf extract: a randomized placebo. Controlled clinical trial. Complement Ther Med. 2013 Oct;21(5):441-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.07.004. Epub 2013 Aug 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24050577 Published: August 6, 2013. Accessed: August 31, 2017.
- Healthspan. https://www.healthspan.co.uk/advice/sage-herbal-remedies-for-menopause Accessed: August 31, 2017.
- Dr. Axe. Top 6 Thyme Benefits (#1 & #6 Will Clear Your Throat) https://draxe.com/thyme/Accessed: September 19, 2017
- Umesh Rudrappa. Nutrition and you. Oregano nutrition facts. http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/oregano.html Accessed: August 31, 2017.
- Dr. Mercola. Mint: Learn More About This Refreshing and Invigorating Herb. http://articles.mercola.com/herbs-spices/mint.aspx Accessed: August 31, 2017.
- Mohsen Hamidpour, Rafie Hamidpour, Soheila Hamidpour, and Mina Shahlari. Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Medicinal Property of Sage (Salvia) to Prevent and Cure Illnesses such as Obesity, Diabetes, Depression, Dementia, Lupus, Autism, Heart Disease, and Cancer. 2014 Apr-Jun; 4(2): 82–88.doi: 10.4103/2225-4110.130373 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003706/ Accessed: August 31, 2017.