Rosemary is one of those herbs with a thousand uses. It's extremely hardy and therefore easy to grow and maintain inside or out. Indoors, it requires lots of light but not too much heat and humid air. Spritz the plant with water a few times a week. Add an entire sprig to vegetable soups for a bright, unique flavor.
When purchasing rosemary, fresh is superior because it's more subtle than the pungent dried form. Freshrosemary can be refrigerated in a Ziploc bag for several weeks; dried rosemary should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry place to keep for several months.
To make your own rosemary-infused oil, place a sprig or two of completely dry rosemary leaves into a glass jar, top with olive oil, replace the lid, and shake lightly. Store in a warm, dark place for two weeks, strain, and then simply pour back into the glass jar. Use ¼ cup for a fragrant bath or blend with balsamic vinegar to drizzle all over a salad for a delicious dressing.
Health Benefits of Rosemary
For centuries, one of the most common medicinal uses for rosemary has involved improving memory, not just for the flavor it adds to food. This herb, especially the flower tops, contains antibacterial and antioxidant rosmarinic acid, plus several essential oils such as cineol, camphene, borneol, bornyl acetate, and α-pinene that are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties.
Most recipes call for a few teaspoons of rosemary rather than 100 grams, but the above chart indicates the balance of nutrients, which are many. The same amount provides 16% of the daily value of vitamin A for free radical-zapping antioxidant properties, vision protection, healthy skin and mucus membranes, and increased protection from lung and mouth cancers. Mostly renowned for fighting infection, the vitamin C content synthesizes collagen, the protein required for optimal blood vessels, organs, skin, and bones.
Manganese, another of the more prominent minerals in rosemary, plays such a critical antioxidant role in the body - specifically aided by its cofactor superoxide dismutase - that it's associated with lowering the risk of cancer, specifically breast cancer.
Rosemary also contains iron (part of the hemoglobin inside red blood cells, determining how much oxygen the blood will carry) and potassium (a component in cell and body fluids which helps control heart rate and blood pressure). There's also fiber, copper, calcium, and magnesium, and an abundance of B vitamins, such as pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, folates, useful for DNA synthesis and for women just prior to conception, which helps prevent neural tube defects in newborns.
Being concentrated, the dried version of rosemary provides a bit more of everything: 93 calories, 12 grams of fiber and 45% of the daily value in iron, 35% of the calcium, 29% of the vitamin C and 18% of the vitamin A needed each day.
Possible health benefits of rosemary
Rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds- these are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. Laboratory studies have shown rosemary to be rich in antioxidants, which play an important role in neutralizing harmful particles called free radicals.
Improving digestion - In Europe rosemary is often used to help treat indigestion - Germany's Commission E has approved it for the treatment of dyspepsia. However, it should be noted that there is currently no meaningful scientific evidence to support this claim.
Enhancing memory and concentration - blood levels of a rosemary oil component correlate with improved cognitive performance, according to research in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, published by SAGE.
Neurological protection - scientists have found that rosemary is also good for your brain. Rosemary contains an ingredient, carnosic acid, that is able to fight off free radical damage in the brain.
According to a study published in Cell Journal, carnosic acid "may be useful in protecting against beta amyloid-induced neurodegeneration in the hippocampus."1
Prevent brain aging - Kyoto University researchers in Japan revealed that rosemary may significantly help prevent brain aging.
Cancer - Research published in Oncolocy Reports found that "crude ethanolic rosemary extract (RO) has differential anti-proliferative effects on human leukemia and breast carcinoma cells."2
Another study, published in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, concluded that rosemary may be an effective herbal anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor agent.3
In addition, a report published in the Journal of Food Science revealed that adding rosemary extract to ground beef reduces the formation of cancer-causing agents that can develop during cooking.
Protection against macular degeneration - a study published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, led by Stuart A. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, revealed that a major component of rosemary, carnosic acid, can significantly promote eye health.