Popular in Greek cooking, thyme also has a long history as a healing plant — its essential oil is a powerful antiseptic, which is why soldiers used to bathe in thyme tea to soothe wounds and clean cuts and scrapes. Modern science has confirmed that thyme kills fungus and bacteria that can cause infections. The herb can also be found in stomach tonics thanks to its soothing antispasmodic effect, which helps muscles — including stomach muscles — relax.
Here are six reasons to make like the Spartans and get some thyme into your diet.
1. Thyme is antibacterial: Thyme contains an essential oil called thymol, which can be used as a surface antibacterial agent. It’s also a great natural addition to your first-aid kit as an antiseptic and digestive aid.
2. This herb is high in antioxidants: Thyme contains some of the highest levels of natural flavonoids and polyphenols, beating out other herbs like oregano, marjoram and basil. Try adding some fresh thyme to your salad, steak or smoothie to boost antioxidants and keep your skin looking youthful.
3. It could help prevent food poisoning: Thyme has the ability to help preserve meat against bacterial overgrowth, drastically reducing the chances of decomposition and thus illness when you eat it.
4. Kill pesky parasites with thyme: Many herbs can kill parasites, and thyme is no exception! Adding thyme and other herbs to dishes is a great trick for when you are travelling abroad to prevent coming back with a nasty bug.
5. It’s an astringent and an analgesic: This means that thyme has the ability to prevent the production of excess mucous, bile or stomach acid, as well as to relieve pain. This can come in handy if you deal with increased acid production in your stomach and suffer from heartburn as a result.
6. Thyme can kill certain tumor cells: Recent studies have shown that active components of thyme can kill tumor cells that have otherwise been resistant to chemotherapy. The studies are still in animal trials, but they have shown promising results.
Thyme for kale salad
Kale grows so fast this time of year that the bunches sold at the farmers market are triple the size you would get in the winter. Kale is one of the world’s richest sources of vitamin K, which works with calcium to build strong bones. As for thyme, there are more than 60 varieties of this herb. At the farmers’ market this week, Vikki’s Veggies had a wonderful English thyme that complements kale beautifully.
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
8 cups kale, stems removed
1 yellow pepper, julienned
1/2 cup fresh thyme, stems removed
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
to taste sea salt
1. Saute onions, garlic, olive oil and sea salt for 3-4 minutes on medium heat until onions soften.
2. Meanwhile in a large pot, steam kale for 3 minutes until just soft. Drain well and place back into pot.
3. Place onion medley, pepper, thyme, and basil into the kale pot.
4. In a separate bowl, mix dressing ingredients well and pour into kale pot.
5. Mix until all ingredients are coated well and serve.
Makes 10 servings
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon-to-be-published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.
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