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Oregano is recognized as one of the "functional foods" for its nutritional values, antioxidants and disease preventing properties. It has a warm, balsamic and aromatic flavor, which makes it a perfect addition to Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines. In Greek the name means “delight of the mountains” and it symbolized joy and happiness for them and the Romans. It was an important part of their daily lives and was used in important events such as weddings wherein the brides and grooms were crowned with a laurel of oregano. Traditionally it is used as food preservative and also for medicinal purposes especially to cure stomach infections. Oregano is also known as wild marjoram and marjoram. It is a perennial herb that is easy to grow at home, which would give an ongoing fresh supply of this wonderful herb and reap its many benefits such as elaborated below.
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Oregano is very rich in fiber, which is necessary to provide bulk for better elimination. Fiber works to bind to bile salts and cancer-causing toxins in the colon and expel them from the body. Thus the body has to break down cholesterol to make more bile salts. It therefore also helps with people who have high cholesterol. Research shows that consumption of oregano reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol in the body. It is an excellent herb to reduce the risk of colon cancer as well. Oregano is also a bountiful source of many vitamins and minerals. To name a few, it is an excellent source of vitamin K, an important vitamin which promotes bone growth, the maintenance of bone density, and the production and regulation of blood clotting proteins. It is a very good source of manganese, iron and calcium.
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The essential oils of oregano contain thymol and carvacrol, both of them are powerful antimicrobials. They are known to inhibit the growth of bacteria, such as pseudomonas aeruginosa, staphylococcus aureus, or candida species and foodborne pathogens such as listeria and the superbug methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (commonly referred as MRSA). Oregano also helps in digestion by increasing bile flow and fighting against some bacteria, viruses, fungi, intestinal worms, and other parasites in stomach. In fact, scientific study claim that oregano is a better treatment for giardia, an intestinal infection that causes abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea and bouts of watery diarrhea that the prescribed drug by doctors.
Among the numerous phytonutrients that Oregano has, thymol and rosmarinic acid are very potent antioxidants that prevent oxygen-based damage to cell structures throughout the body. They immensely support immune system of the health. Interestingly, studies prove that on a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano has 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries. Thus, oregano actually contributes significantly to the total intake of plant antioxidants, and is an even better source of dietary antioxidants than many other food groups such as fruits, berries, cereals, and vegetables.
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The essential oil of oregano oil useful against respiratory infections because encourages sweat production as a method to detox, and also helps your body to get rid of unwanted phlegm in the lungs. It has potential anti-viral activity that significantly relieves symptoms of upper respiratory infections almost immediately.
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Beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP) is a chemical substance that inhibits inflammation and thus beneficial for conditions including osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis as well as metabolic syndrome.
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This wonderful and healthy herb adds a warm, balsamic and aromatic flavor to many different dishes, especially those of the Mediterranean cuisine. It can be added to salad dressings, vegetables, eggs and meat. One of the best properties of oregano is that when it is added to meat prior to cooking, it helps reduce the toxic compounds created during the cooking process. Oregano is that fragrant herb that makes us think of pizza, but it truly is a very healthy addition to the kitchen, garden and dining table.
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