Properties and Benefits of Rosemary: Healthy and fragrant, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a popular Mediterranean herb and culinary spice. Although rosemary leaves and branches are used for culinary purposes alone, they are actually a good source of vitamins B6, A and C, iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium.
A single branch of rosemary is just as nutritious as a medium-sized apple. Believe it or not, rosemary consumption supports healthy eyes and mucous membranes, helps prevent tiredness and anemia, promotes muscle tone and offers significant antioxidant protection to cells. Best of all, rosemary has such a pleasant savor that it makes ordinary dishes simply stand out.
Rosemary plants are perennial shrubs, meaning you plant them and they grow year after year until they reach about 1-2 meters in height. Regardless of the variety, the shrub loves warm, Mediterranean climates but adapts well to more temperate climates as well. Gardening tip: if you want your rosemary to thrive, plant it in a sunny place and drained, loamy soil. Depending on the variety, rosemary flowers may vary in color from white, pink and lavender to deep blue and purple, the last two being the most common. Seeing it is both nutritious and beautiful, it has become a favorite ornamental plant among passionate gardeners.
Rosemary owes its popularity as a culinary spice to its unique, piney fragrance, a result of a combination of natural flavor-giving chemical compounds with powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antitumor properties.
For example, rosemary flowers contain a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phenol called rosmarinic acid, also found in other aromatic herbs such as basil, sage, thyme, peppermint and lemon balm. Other chemical compounds that contribute to the unique flavor of rosemary are cineol, camphene, borneol, bornyl acetate, phytochemicals with potent anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antifungal and antiallergenic activity.
But remember: spices should all be consumed in small amounts (a few branches of rosemary to give flavor to your roast pork, for example). Eating too much rosemary will cause the above-mentioned phytochemicals to accumulate in your body and cause serious health problems.
Rosemary leaves are cholesterol-free and a good source of fiber as well.
If you take a look at the nutrition table above, you will see that rosemary is an above-average spice from the point of view of its nutritional value. It is a good source of B vitamins, notably folate, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine.
Rosemary is especially rich in vitamin A: 97% of the RDA. Vitamin A maintains healthy mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and digestive tract and protects retina health due to its powerful antioxidant effects. Fresh rosemary leaves boast a good vitamin C content. Eating foods rich in vitamin C supports blood vessel, skin and bone integrity and prevents wrinkles. Rosemary owes its antioxidant properties to vitamins A and C, as well as manganese, three essential nutrients that offer protection against free radical damage.
Last but not least, rosemary is a pretty good source of iron (83%), copper (33%), calcium (32%), magnesium (23%) and potassium (14%). Regular consumption helps prevent mineral deficiencies and promotes cardiovascular health. As stated above, a single branch of fresh rosemary is just as nutritious as a medium-sized apple. For more information on vitamins, minerals and the best food sources of any of these essential nutrients, you can access this page.
Rosemary is great for a variety of dishes but pairs best with roast chicken, pork, lamb or beef. You can always put a few rosemary branches in your olive oil to give it extra flavor or use them to marinade your meat. A classic recipe is rosemary and garlic baked potatoes, but you can always turn rosemary branches into skewers and give an awesome twist to your barbecues or add them to lemonade.
Nevertheless, because they are hard and needle-like, rosemary leaves can be a bit too difficult to swallow. Some people say that they feel like chocking on small fish bones when trying to swallow them. If a family member or a friend is experiencing difficulty with this, you can always use dried, ground rosemary or beat the fresh leaves yourself with a pestle.