Healthy Comfort Food with Healing Herbs

Help for high cholesterol, aching joints, upset stomach and much more could be as close as your kitchen cabinet.

| June/July 2008

  • What could be better than comfort food that heals? Not only is this ginger cake delicious, it can soothe your tummy, too.
    Joe Coca

In this age of conflicting research, fancy (and expensive) supplements and endless dialog about what we should do for our health, returning to the basics can be quite refreshing. After all, you can find some of the most effective herbal medicines right in your kitchen!

Culinary herbs like basil, dill and oregano all are great for your health—they’re high in antioxidants and have carminative properties, meaning they enhance digestion and help relieve gas and bloating. But other herbs have been shown to have powerful health benefits, too, ranging from lowering cholesterol to smoothing out blood sugar levels. Here’s a guide to several of the herbal superstars you likely have sitting in your spice rack, ready to boost the flavor and health-factor of your meals.

Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

Fresh Ginger Cake
Garlic Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Garlic: Curb Cholesterol, Prevent Cancer

One of the most revered medicines in history, garlic (Allium sativum) is a powerful healer with antiviral and antibacterial properties. It was a favorite of the ancient Egyptians, who used the herb to prevent illness and increase strength and endurance.

Modern research shows garlic can help lower cholesterol. In a study conducted at Penn State University and published in 2000, researchers gave either garlic or a placebo to men with high cholesterol. At the end of the study, the garlic group averaged a 7 percent drop in total cholesterol levels. Although some studies (widely reported in the mainstream media) have shown garlic to be ineffective against high cholesterol and heart disease, most studies do show a positive effect. Note that garlic is not as powerful as statin drugs, however. If your cholesterol is very high and unresponsive to healthy lifestyle changes, you might need to take statins.

In studies, garlic also has been shown to improve ulcers; lower the risk of heart attack and stroke; prevent cancer; reduce blood sugar levels; and more.

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