The Practical Guide to Herbs and Spices for Parkinson’s Disease
Last updated: April 2021
Did you know herbs and spices provide valuable protection to your neurons (the working unit of your brains) because of their natural antioxidants and phytonutrients?1,2 You can get wholesome nutrition that has protective benefits to your Parkinson’s disease with the ease of a quick sprinkle or snip. What a re-leaf!
As a dietitian, thyme and thyme again, I recommend antioxidant-rich foods such as herbs and spices to my clients to help preserve and protect cognition. Research has shown their positive implications on brain health and benefits with neurodegenerative diseases.3
Reap the benefits of a phytonutrient-rich diet by checking out the dos and don’ts of creating a sup-herb dish from start to finish.
Herbs and spice and everything nice! Give the body the encourage-mint it needs with color-filled herbs, each containing its own unique set of disease-fighting antioxidants. Previous research has shown that plant-based nutrients can help mitigate symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.4
Specifically, antioxidants help neutralize free radicals and decrease oxidative stress, ultimately preventing cell death associated with neurodegenerative diseases.
As a result, it allows for improved brain function, learning, and overall improved health. Plus, adding more spice to your life adds an abundance of new flavors powered by nature!4
Grow your own herbs
It may be time to embrace your inner green thumb. Whether you have a windowsill in a city apartment, space in your backyard, or a single flowerpot on the porch, you can have an herb garden. Many herbs are easy to grow and require little attention. Just snip with kitchen scissors and add to your favorite dishes.
If you are a plant-growing newbie, or simply lack the “thyme” to tend to a garden, don’t worry! Start your herb patch with low-maintenance options such as basil, chives, and parsley. These flavorful greens can easily grow right from the comfort of your own kitchen.
You can buy a kitchen herb kit or research the essential steps for success and start from scratch. Then reap the benefits of tasty nutrition in every meal to come. Bonus—you’ll cut down on added salt without sacrificing flavor!
Tips for cooking
Your household will want to kiss the cook after tasting these delicious herbs! Since starting this herb crusade decades ago, I’ve learned from the best of my clients. One of my clients grows Italian flat parsley and adds it to her marinara. Guess who can’t eat pasta sauce without it now?
Get the most out of your spices by cooking them with a healthy fat like olive oil or simmer sauce, which brings out their potent flavor. But be careful; these delicate compounds can add a bitter-filled bite if burned, overused, or old.
To make a flavorful dish that you can’t beat, keep these essential tips and tricks in mind when working with herbs and spices.
Prep your herbs
Most fresh herbs get sold as sprigs —long stems with the leaves still attached. If the stem is tender, chop it up along with the leaves.
If it’s woody or tough, pull the leaves off the stem by pinching the stem at the bottom and sliding your fingers up the length. Mince or chiffonade large-leafed herbs; small-leafed herbs like thyme can be left as is.
Use fresh and dry
Brighten up any meal with herbs, whether you want to keep them fresh or enjoy them dry. Generally, one can use fresh and dry herbs interchangeably, with a few minor adjustments.
If using dried instead of fresh, start with half the suggested amount and add more if needed. You can always add spice, but you can’t take it out!
Dried herbs require additional time to cook and soften to release their maximal flavor profile. So, avoid using them in uncooked recipes or as a garnish, like you would fresh herbs.
Add just before serving
When it comes to fresh herbs, delicate options such as basil and chervil can lose their punch if cooked for too long. Instead, stir these herbs into a dish or sprinkle them over the top just before serving.
Hardy, woodsy herbs like thyme and rosemary should be cooked with a dish to maximize their taste and aromatics. Be careful; they can sometimes taste bitter if added too close to serving time. I love rosemary and thyme with creamy polenta (made with low-fat milk and olive oil).
Benefits for Parkinson's
When it comes to protecting against neurodegeneration with Parkinson’s disease, stay calm and curry on. Functional foods like herbs and spices can not only improve one’s overall health but offer an irresistible taste that will make your tastebuds go wild.
To learn more about the nutritional benefits of plant compounds, make sure to go back and review our previous article, Herbs: A Powerful Antioxidant Source for Parkinson’s Disease.
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