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Herbs: rich soure of antioxidants

Better health may be only a dash and sprinkel away: Researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found that herbs, in addition to making food tastier, are an abundant source of antioxidants and could provide potential anticancer benefits when supplementing a balanced diet.Herbs have higher antioxidant activity than frutis, vegetables and some spice,s including garlic, the researchers say. Their findings appear in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.//

“Some herbs should be considered as regular vegetables,” says Shiow Y. Wing lead researchers and a biochemist Wing lead researcher and a biochemist with the USDA’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Centre in Beltsville.Using various chemical tests, Wang studied and compared the antioxidant activity of 39 commonly used herbs grown in the same location and conditions. The study, which did not involve animal or human subjects, included 27 culinary and 12 medicinal herbs.

In what may be good news for pizza lovers and Italian food connoisseurs everywhere, the herbs with the highest antioxidant activity belonged to the oregano family. In general, oregano had 3 to 20 times higher antioxidant activity than the other herbs studied, says Wang.On a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano and other herbs ranked even higher in antioxidant activity than fruits and vegetables, which are known to be high in antioxidants.

Adding a moderate amount of herbs may go a long way toward boosting the health value of a meal, especially as an alternative to salt and artificial additives, the researcher suggests. Even if you’re not into oregano, other herbs also appear to pack a significant antioxidant punch.Among the more familiar, ranked in order, are dill, garden thyme, rosemary and peppermint. The most active phenol component in some of the herbs with the highest antioxidant activity, particularly oregano, was rosmarinic acid, a strong antioxidant, the researcher says.

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