Oregano besides being an important culinary herb, has been an integral part of traditional medicine as it offers some amazing potential health benefits.
Though a kitchen herb imported from the Mediterranean, it has become an integral part of Indian cooking too.
Oregano, botanically referred to as Origanum vulgare, oregano is an herb from the mint family. Oregano has derived its name from the Greek words “oros,” which means mountain, and “ganos,” which means joy. Oregano has a strong flavour and is hence used as a flavouring agent. The flavour of oregano is attributed to certain antioxidants present in it.
It is available either in the dried, fresh, dried, or as an oil. Oregano oil is derived by air-drying the shoots and the leaves of the plant. After they are dried, the oil is extracted and concentrated by steam distillation. There are various types of oregano. The two chief varieties of oregano are European and Greek. All the varieties of oregano are rich in essential oils.
As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one teaspoon or 1 gm of dried oregano leaves contains 2.7 calories, 0.04 gm of fat, 13 mg of potassium, 0.7 gm of carbohydrates, 0.09 gm of protein, 0.04 gm of fibre, 16 mg of calcium, 1.5 mg phosphorus, 2.4 mcg of folate, o.37 mg of iron, 3 mg of magnesium, 0.18 mg of vitamin E, and 6.2 mcg of vitamin K.
There are different concentrations of phenolic compounds present in different varieties of oregano. The commonly present phenolic compounds are esters and its glycosides, phenolic acids, steroids, and flavonoids.
Potential Health Benefits Of Oregano…
Protects against cancer
1. Oregano possesses anti-cancer properties thus, offering protection against cancer.
2. Carvacrol, one of the compounds present in oregano oil is effective against liver, lung, and breast cancer cells.
3. Carvacrol restricts the growth of the cancer cell and also causes cancer cell death.
4. Components found in oregano, thymol, and carvacrol and prevent the growth of cancer cells and the spread of skin cancer.
Improves bone health
1. Some of the essential minerals found in Oregano such as calcium, manganese, and iron are important for bone health.
2. Calcium helps in offering support to the bone structure, while vitamin D enhances calcium absorption and growth of bones.
Treats skin diseases
1. Oregano possesses anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which help in wound healing.
2. Oregano can treat rashes, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin conditions.
3. Oregano oil possesses antiseptic properties that help relieve skin inflammation and infection.
4. Oregano can also remodel and repair damaged tissues.
Relieves pain And inflammation
1. Caffeic acid, luteolin, chlorogenic acid, quercetin, and their derivatives present in oregano decrease inflammation and pain.
2. Carvacrol, a major component present in oregano oil, possesses anti-inflammatory properties thus, heals cuts, wounds, cancers, and gastric ulcers.
3. Carvacrol also relieves several inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, toothache, menstrual cramps, insect bites, and muscle pain.
Oregano is a potent antiseptic with antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.
Other possible benefits…
Oregano produces numerous health benefits, apart from the health benefits mentioned above, it also produces few more such as lowers cholesterol, protects the body from damage caused by free radicals, treats yeast infections, improves gut health, helps lose weight, strengthens immunity system, improves digestion.
Oregano also helps manage diabetes, boost energy levels, treat microbial infections, clear dandruff and scalp complaints, treat flu and viral diseases, relieve menstrual cramps and promote heart health.
How To use Oregano in Cooking?
Fresh and dried oregano, either of them can be used in cooking. Fresh oregano can be used as a garnish while, dried leaves can be added in the start so that all its flavours are released. Fresh or dried oregano can be used in cooking in the following ways:
- Added in baked products.
- As a finishing touch to garlic bread.
- To marinate chicken, fish, and meat.
- To flavour sautéed vegetables and omelets.
- Added to legumes like chickpeas and lentils.
- Sprinkle it as a topping on soups, stews, pizzas, or salads.
How to prepare Pasta Salad Dressing with Oregano
Take ½ cup creamy salad dressing, ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup red wine vinegar, 2 large cloves minced garlic, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon white sugar, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon chopped fresh basil, ¼ teaspoon chopped fresh oregano, ¼ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, and ¼ teaspoon chopped fresh parsley.
Mix all these ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until smooth.
Add 2 tablespoons pickle juice and stir it to thin the dressing to your desired consistency.