Health Benefits of Sage
Sage is known for its natural antiseptic, preservative and bacteria-killing abilities in meat. Volatile oils (distilled from the blossoms) contain the phenolic flavonoids apigenin, diosmetin, and luteolin, plus volatile oils such as rosmarinic acid, which can be easily absorbed into the body. Medicinally used for muscle aches, rheumatism, and aromatherapy, these oils also contain ketones, including A- and B-thujone, which enhance mental clarity and upgrade memory, as evidenced by clinical tests comparing tests scores with and without the use of sage. This knowledge has been extremely useful in treating cognitive decline and patients suffering from Alzheimer's. It's interesting that this herb has been prized for that purpose for over 1,000 years.
In fact, sage, made into a drink from the leaves, has been called the "thinker's tea" and even helps easedepression.
Three-lobed sage contains the flavone salvigenin which may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Between the flavonoids, phenolic acids, and the enzymes superoxide dismutase and peroxidase, sage contains powerful antioxidant powers for neutralizing harmful free radicals, as well as compounds that fight inflammation, bronchial asthma, and atherosclerosis (a.k.a. hardening of the arteries).
A gram of sage as seen in the nutritional profile indicates the health benefits even a small amount provides. Vitamin K is the most prominent, with 43% of the daily recommended serving in the more practical serving of one tablespoon. Sage is also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin A, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and B vitamins such as folic acid, thiamin, pyridoxine, and riboflavin in much higher doses than the recommended daily requirements, plus healthy amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, thiamin, and copper.
The soft, yet sweet savory flavor of sage along with its wonderful health-promoting properties is held in such high esteem that the International Herb Association awardedsage the title of "Herb of the Year" in 2001! Fresh, dried whole or powdered, sage is available throughout the year.
Sage leaves are grayish green in color with a silvery bloom covering. They are lance-shaped and feature prominent veins running throughout. Sage has been held in high regard throughout history both for it culinary and medicinal properties. Its reputation as a panacea is even represented in its scientific name, Salvia officinalis, derived from the Latin word, salvere, which means "to be saved."
Rosmarinic acid can be readily absorbed from the GI tract, and once inside the body, acts to reduce inflammatory responses by altering the concentrations of inflammatory messaging molecules (like leukotriene B4). The rosmarinic acid in sage and rosemary also functions as an antioxidant. The leaves and stems of the sage plant also contain antioxidant enzymes, including SOD (superoxide dismutase) and peroxidase. When combined, these three components of sage—flavonoids, phenolic acids, and oxygen-handling enzymes—give it a unique capacity for stabilizing oxygen-related metabolism and preventing oxygen-based damage to the cells. Increased intake ofsage as a seasoning in food is recommended for persons with inflammatory conditions (likerheumatoid arthritis),as well as bronchial asthma, and atherosclerosis. The ability of sage to protect oils from oxidation has also led some companies to experiment with sage as a naturalantioxidant additive to cooking oils that can extend shelf life and help avoid rancidity.