One of the great benefits of America’s love affair with food has been that more and more people are using fresh herbs in their day-to-day cooking. Country dwellers have whole section of their gardens dedicated to these aromatic plants, while urbanites might have whole herbariums on their balconies or in window-sills. And while this has made meals taste better all over America, the anti-oxidant power of herbs might be helping with something even more important: the fight against cancer. Below are some of the top herbs that can be used in everyday dishes that are also known for cancer-fighting properties.
This herb is immensely popular in Italian and other Mediterranean cuisines and is probably one of the most potent herbs to help prevent cancer because of one particular component, rosmarinic acid. In one Indian study on experimental rodents with colon cancer, supplementation with oil of oregano was shown to have a modulating effect on the course of the cancer development.
Another commonly used herb in Mediterranean cooking, thyme contains rosmarinic acid like oregano, but also is potent in polyphenols such as thymol and carvacrol. This also have anti-oxidant properities and one recent study from the Hacettepe University Research Foundation in Turkey found that this phenolic compounds significantly reduced oxidative damage to DNA, and thus was found to be helpful at preventing any form of cancer.
This herb is wide-spread in the cooking of Latin America and the American Southwest, and apart from its great flavor, it is rich in anti-oxidants like beta-carotene, quercetin and rutin. It is also well-known for its ability to remove heavy metals from the body, and is in fact used in chelation therapy to treat patients suffering from lead poisoning.
This potent root is best-known for its ability to help treat nausea, but it also has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Several of its phenolic compounds, including 6-gingerol and 6-paradol have been the object of much scrutiny among researchers, and a paper in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications recently reported that 6-gingerol has found to be particularly effective on the treatment of gastric cancer cells.
Long-studied for its beneficial effects on cardiac health, researchers such as those at the National Cancer Institute are studying it for its anti-cancer properties. One study of the sulphydryl componds in this potent herb have proven effective at blocking cancer tumor formation and increased garlic consumption in several large-scale studies has shown to be related to a decrease in cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas and breast.
Thus the modern craze for cooking with herbs can do more than just improve the American palate. It also has the potential to both prevent and treat various forms of cancer.
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