Herbs are delicious and they make our dishes come alive with flavor and variety. Throughout history, herbs have been used not only in recipes and teas, but also medical treatments. Today, most of us have entire cupboards full of dried herbs. We often drink them in the form of caffeine-free teas, cook with them and use them for zesty natural home fragrances. A few of us may even harken back to our ancestors’ beliefs in herbs as treatments for illnesses and maladies.
These fragrant and delicious plants may be varied in their uses, but one thing is for sure: They’re really good for us! Here are just a few of the proven health benefits of herbs.
1. They’re Anti-Microbial
Herbs are anti-microbial, which means they help fight bacteria and harmful germs. The key to this property is herbs’ high concentration of polyphenols, a class of organic chemical micronutrients found in a variety of plants. We’ll hear about some of polyphenols’ other nutritional benefits later, but one of their well-known properties is their ability to fight bacteria. Oregano and dill are two herbs that are particularly chock-full of anti-microbial polyphenols.
2. They Help You Eat Better
This particular attribute isn’t related to a healthful nutrient within herbs, but rather the eating patterns that these plants help us adhere to. When we flavor our dishes with delicious and fragrant herbs, we make them more flavorful and appealing, encouraging us to eat healthy, whole foods. We are also able to reduce the amount of salt we add to our foods because we are adding so much flavor in the form of herbs. While salt isn’t necessarily a bad thing in moderation, herbs are a welcome substitute.
3. They’re Full of Antioxidants
Don’t think of berries and other fruits as the sole proprietors of antioxidants—these healthy foods get many of their antioxidant properties from polyphenols, just like herbs. Herbs provide a stunning number of antioxidants, making them a super nutritious addition to your dishes. Antioxidants bind to free radicals in the body, helping to fight their presence and potentially decrease your risk of certain cancers and chronic diseases.
4. They’re Low-Calorie
Just like vegetables and other leafy plants, herbs are extremely low in calories. Calories aren’t the only important thing to consider when you’re trying to eat healthy, of course, but the fact that using these plants as seasonings won’t impact the caloric count of your dish makes them far superior to dressings, sauces and rubs. If you’re watching your waistline or trying to balance your diet, herbs will be your best bet in terms of flavor additions.
5. They’re Anti-Inflammatory
Finally, just like many spices, herbs are anti-inflammatory. Chronic inflammation wreaks havoc in the body. In fact, according to the Washington Post, it’s suspected to be linked to arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. The anti-inflammatory properties of herbs are attributed to—you guessed it—polyphenols. Add some herbs to whole food dishes such as vegetables and fresh meats and you’ll be on your way toward reducing inflammation in your body.
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It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
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