Rosemary – A Culinary Powerhouse
By Nikole Randolph, MS, CISSN posted December 11, 2018
Once again the Mediterranean diet has made its way into the spotlight. It has been noted as one of the healthiest, most balanced, and easiest to follow dietary approaches to live by.
Most people identify the Mediterranean diet as one rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, olive oil, and unrefined carbohydrates, but often forgotten are the culinary herbs used in Mediterranean cooking.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus – meaning “dew of the sea” in Latin) is native to the costal habitat of the Mediterranean. Its distinctive, woody aroma can’t be mistaken. Found in kitchens and herb gardens around the world, rosemary makes its way into a variety of sweet and savory foods. It is recognized as a symbol of love, loyalty, and remembrance used in traditional ceremonies, as well as a fragrance in soaps, lotions, and cosmetics. Historically, rosemary has been used to remedy poor circulation, menstrual pain, anxiety, nervousness, skin complaints and headaches.
Rosemary has a myriad of phytonutrients with validated medicinal properties. The antibacterial, antimicrobial, anticancer, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antidiuretic, liver protective, and memory enhancing effects of rosemary have been established in the scientific literature. Two of the most potent antioxidants in rosemary are carnosic acid and its derivative carnosol (also found in sage) – approximately 90% of the antioxidant activity associated with rosemary can be attributed to these 2 compounds.
Rosemary’s pharmacological attributes can support the body in its natural detoxification processes. Like turmeric, rosemary has been shown to boost liver detoxification by regulating expression of detoxifying enzymes (e.g. CYP450s, glutathione-S-transferases) and increasing bile flow which plays a critical role in removing toxins from the body. The final steps of metabolic detoxification rely on proper bile flow to prevent toxic overload, in part by stimulating peristaltic activity in the gut.
Some of rosemary’s most notable detoxification properties include:
- Powerful antioxidant activity (scavenger of free radicals)
- Enhanced bile flow
- Promotes proper peristalsis
Easy ways to incorporate rosemary into your diet include:
- Add fresh or dried rosemary to olive oil for cooking/roasting or dipping
- Create a rub to be used on your favorite meats (lamb, pork, poultry)
- Add rosemary to your own tomato sauce for a bright and bold flavor
Culinary herbs, like rosemary, add a delightful flavor but they also deliver powerful phytonutrients that support optimal health.
Garlic Herb Rub
- 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Combine ingredients and rub on your favorite cuts of meat or veggies before roasting. Feel free to add a little more, less, or remove herbs based on your preference.
Example: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the following:
- 6 Brussel sprouts, cleaned and quartered
- 4 beet roots, cleaned and quartered
- 1 yam, peeled and diced
Mix with garlic herb rub and place in single layer on baking sheet (use parchment for easier clean up). Roast for 20 minutes, flip and roast for an additional 10 minutes or until veggies are golden brown. This works well with potatoes for a great warm and go breakfast!
- Johnson, R. L., Foster, S., Low Dog, T., & Kiefer, D. (2010). National Geographic guide to medicinal herbs: The world’s most effective healing plants. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society.
- Habtemariam, S. (2016). The therapeutic potential of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) diterpenes for alzheimer’s disease. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2016, 2680409. http://doi.org/10.1155/2016/2680409
- Lo, A-H., Liang, Y-C., Lin-Shiau, S-Y., Ho, C-T., & Lin, J-K. (2002). Carnosol, an antioxidant in rosemary, suppresses inducible nitric oxide synthase through down-regulating nuclear factor-κB in mouse macrophages. Carcinogenesis, 23(6), 983-991.
- Petiwala, S. M., Puthenveetil, A. G., & Johnson, J. J. (2013). Polyphenols from the Mediterranean herb rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) for prostate cancer. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 4, 29. http://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2013.00029
- Hodges, R. E., & Minich, D. M. (2015). Modulation of metabolic detoxification pathways using foods and food-derived components: A scientific review with clinical application. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2015, 23 pages.
- Al-Sereiti, M. R., Abu-Amer, K. M., & Sen, P. (1999) Pharmacology of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and its therapeutic potentials. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, 37, 124-130.
- Boyer, J. L. (2013). Bile Formation and Secretion. Comprehensive Physiology, 3(3), 1035–1078. http://doi.org/10.1002/cphy.c120027
Nikole Randolph, MS, CISSN