Living Fit: Herbs

Herbal advantages.

Dig the benefits of growing and eating herbs

By Eric Chen, WAC Nutritionist

Spring brings a perfect blend of sun and rain to the Pacific Northwest, making this the ideal time to start a garden. For anyone looking to add some great nutrients to their diet, a simple herb garden will do nicely. I often recommend herbs to clients for three reasons:

  1. Herbs are easy to grow and require minimal maintenance.
  2. Herbs offer many health benefits.
  3. Herbs deliver flavor without salt, fat or sugar.

Before we discuss some of my favorite herbs, an important note: Gardening is great for the soul no matter what you grow. The effects of long-term gardening have been studied widely and include reduced cortisol levels, decreased risk of dementia, improved gut flora, and increased mobility and blood flow. Plus, just by planting your first seedling, you are exposed to great soil-based organisms, such as Mycobacterium vaccae, a good bacteria that can increase the release of serotonin in the brain and boost your mood.

As you start your own garden, don’t hold back. Follow your passion and your taste buds. Chances are you’ll discover something wonderful while doing your mind and your body a lot of good. As for what to grow, here are some of the easiest herbs to cultivate in the Pacific Northwest, along with their nutritional benefits.

  • Holy basil: Not to be confused with traditional sweet or Thai basil, holy basil can improve the immune system and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. It contains vitamins A and C, calcium, zinc, and iron.
  • Rosemary: A rich source of various minerals, it contains antioxidants that boost immune health.
  • Garlic: This bulb is great for heart health and has many antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  • Sage: This plant has shown promising evidence to improve brain function and memory. Its medicinal use dates back at least two thousand years.
  • Peppermint: This fragrant herb can soothe the stomach, reduce nausea and irritable bowel syndrome, and tastes great with tea and dessert.

As published in the March/April 2017 issue of WAC Magazine.

—Posted March 9, 2017

More Athletics & Wellness

Weight loss and you
Moving Well to Manage Arthritis
How stress impacts our health