Improve your health with homegrown herbs

HerbGarden

This post originally appeared on www.HealthBytesNYC.com

Herb gardens are not only a great way to enhance your dinner dishes, but also your well-being. Here are five ways you can use herbs and gardening to help improve your health:

1. Eat and use herbs
There are lots of vitamins and minerals in herbs that we don’t even realize. Depending on the herb, they can increase circulation, help with digestion, supply rich antioxidants, have astringent and antiseptic properties, and much more. Using a variety will help make sure you get all the benefits. Herbs not only can be ingested for their health benefits, but also can be used for aromatherapy. For example, smelling lavender can help you de-stress and increase relaxation.

2. Have fresh herbs on hand
Fresh herbs are better than artificial flavors or dried seasonings. Not only are fresh herbs more potent and flavorful, but the nutrients in them won’t be lost with processing and packaging. You can grow them outside or inside, and they will always be there for your use. On top of that, you save money and time by not having to buy herbs — you can have all your favorites stocked at home.

3. Start your own garden
Gardening is a great way to get your body moving and soaking up your daily dose of vitamin D outdoors. Even tending your own small herb garden in your window can be therapeutic and help relieve stress. Having plants in your home, even a small herb garden, can clean the air and increase the oxygen level indoors.

4. Share and experiment
Did you know there are almost 30 different types of basil plants? This gives you a lot of options and room for exploring new flavors and expanding your herb garden. You will have more than enough herbs to go around once they start growing, so share the health and wealth with others. Trimming and using the herbs helps keep them growing and healthy.

5. Store your herbs
If you can’t use an herb now, you can store it for later. Preserve your herbs for future use by freezing or drying them. Ice cube trays are a great method for freezing some herb leaves and then using them when you are ready. The benefit of freezing, as opposed to drying, is that the herbs retain more of their just-picked flavor. Either way, it is a great way to use all that you cultivate, and to have great-tasting herbs all year round.

Information provided by Julie Winslow, director health education and outreach at the Karpas Health Information Center at Beth Israel Medical Center.


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