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Ingredient Spotlight: Health Benefits of Rosemary

Ingredient SpotlightAlana Holloway

You'll know if you've followed LAB for a while that one of the most joyful parts of developing the recipes is getting to research the ingredients.  Not only are they chosen for their flavour, but for their health benefits, too.  I asked Claire, one of LAB's most devoted customers to have a look into the hardy herb and report back.  Over to you Claire...

To be perfectly honest, up until now I had never thought of Rosemary in terms of anything other than culinary as it is very frequently added to meat and fish dishes; so to increase my awareness of the many health benefits of this wonderfully aromatic herb,  and because it  is being used alongside red grapefruit in this season’s Kefir, I would like to share with you a few of the reasons we are so excited about it:

My knowledge of this herb is that it is a very hardy member of the lavender family and grows prolifically in well-drained soil and is often planted alongside thyme.  Therefore its floral fragrance provides a sense of nostalgia for anyone whose parents cultivated a herb garden or patch.  The scent of Rosemary always reminds me of the family Sunday Roast when lamb was that week’s joint as I would stab the joint deeply all over and poke in slices of garlic with a sprig of Rosemary before seasoning and popping into the oven.  Only yesterday I was at my daughter’s for Easter Sunday and it was so comforting to watch her do the same thing exactly when she was roasting the lamb.

What I didn’t know until today, was how Rosemary is used in herbal and holistic medicine and that when we add it either internally or externally, there are many ways in which we are helping to combat some health issues.  For instance, did you know that amongst many other things:

·     Rosemary is a powerful antioxidant. Its properties also have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory benefits and have even been shown to ease allergies ~ a good reason to increase your intake during the hay fever season!

·     Rosemary is a good source of fibre and vitamins A, B & E, copper, potassium, magnesium, manganese, calcium and iron.

·     The best thing I have discovered about Rosemary today is that not only does its intake improve memory and concentration, but current research into Alzheimer’s disease has shown, although a cure for the disease is not yet on the horizon, that two compounds of Rosemary, namely rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid, have been found to enhance the production of nerve protein structures responsible for the survival and repair of nerve cells and to protect brain cells from plaque ~ now considered to be one of the main causes of  Alzheimer’s disease. 

It would be impossible to list all the benefits of Rosemary in this blog, but for now, just try rubbing a leaf between your thumb and forefinger some time; and then inhale deeply.  I always find it gives me an incredible sense of well-being and comfort.