Cooking With Kitchen Herbs

Kitchen herbs are usually used far too sparingly. These are the most powerful superfoods we know. They unfold their health effects particularly when they are used frequently and lavishly.

What are kitchen herbs?

When we talk about kitchen herbs, we are talking about particularly aromatic plants that are preferably used fresh, but occasionally dry. There are also plants from which one uses the above-ground parts, i.e. leaves and flowers, possibly also the stalk. In contrast to aromatic herbs, you can usually use larger quantities of kitchen herbs without any problems.

Herbs, on the other hand, are often used to describe the dried parts of the plant (seeds, bark, buds, and roots), which have such a strong aroma that they are only used in small quantities – for seasoning. These include e.g. B. Caraway, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, aniseed, fennel (seeds), coriander (seeds), pepper, and also turmeric.

Of course, there are also kitchen herbs that taste very aromatic and strong in fresh form due to their high content of essential oils, so that they cannot be consumed in large quantities and therefore belong more to the herbs, such as the Mediterranean herbs thyme, sage, and Rosemary.

What kitchen herbs are there?

In this article, we would like to discuss those kitchen herbs that are best used fresh and that can also be eaten in large quantities. This way you can also enjoy the health effects and healing properties of these herbs much better.

  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens)
  • Garden cress (Lepidium sativum)
  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
  • Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
  • Coriander leaves (Coriandrum sativum)
  • Marjoram (Origanum majorana) and oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Of course, this list is far from complete. In particular, we have chosen herbs that are easily available and at the same time left out those kitchen herbs that could also have unfavorable side effects in larger quantities, e.g. B. Borage due to its content of liver-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids or sorrel due to its high oxalic acid values. Oxalic acid could promote the formation of kidney stones and also makes mineral absorption more difficult, so it has a negative effect on the mineral balance.

How many kitchen herbs can you eat every day?

The usual amounts of kitchen herbs in the kitchen are about 1 tablespoon of chopped herbs per meal and person. However, there is nothing wrong with multiplying this amount – depending on the type of herbs – and e.g. For example, adding 25g of mixed herbs to a smoothie.

Of course, you shouldn’t overdo it with the kitchen herbs either. Only use the amount that tastes good to you. Since kitchen herbs have very intense aromas, overdoses are hardly possible, as the respective dish then becomes inedible.

Also, take turns! So do not eat parsley and basil every day for weeks, but e.g. B. for a week or two, then pause and mix other herbs into your food and drink. After a few days, change these herbs again for others. In this way, you prevent the organism from getting used to a certain healing effect, which could then not occur if you were dependent on it.

What nutrients are in kitchen herbs?

Herbs are naturally low in macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins). On average, the nutrient values ​​per 100 g of kitchen herbs look like this:

  • Calories: 25 to 70 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 7 to 11 g (exception garden cress with 2.5 g)
  • Fat: less than 1 g
  • Protein: 3 to 4 g
  • Fiber: 2 to 6 g

Although the fat content in herbs is very low, it could contribute to a good supply of omega-3 fatty acids, especially if herbs are consumed in large quantities. Because the omega-3 proportion of the fat content of the herbs is relatively high, while the omega-6 proportion is significantly lower, which speaks for a healthy omega-3-omega-6 ratio. For herbs, this is often an excellent value ​​of 3:1.

In the modern diet, linoleic acid (or other omega-6 fatty acids) far predominate, which can have pro-inflammatory and therefore disease-promoting effects. Therefore, a healthy omega-3-omega-6 ratio is an important goal in healthy eating.

The omega-3 content of garden cress is particularly high. It already provides 600 mg of alpha-linolenic acid per 100 g (the daily requirement is given as around 2000 to 3000 mg) and only 200 mg of linoleic acid.

Which vitamins and minerals are contained in kitchen herbs?

The values ​​of calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin K1, and beta-carotene (vitamin A) are particularly outstanding in kitchen herbs. Especially if you decide to consume the herbs in larger quantities in the future, they actually provide relevant quantities of these vital substances, which of course is not the case if you only use 1 to 2 tablespoons of them for seasoning.

However, if you mix equal parts of chives, dill, chervil, and basil and use 100 g of this mixture for one meal, the herb mix already provides almost 300 mg of calcium (2.5 times as much as 100 g of yogurt), 550 mg potassium (daily requirement 4000 mg) and 4 mg iron, which corresponds to a third of the daily iron requirement and shows how well kitchen herbs can be used to treat and prevent iron deficiency.

In terms of vitamin C, parsley is the leader of the herbs listed here with 160 mg per 100 g. However, chives, dill, and cress still provide as much vitamin C per 100 g as citrus fruits (around 50 mg).

Most people turn to carrots for beta-carotene, unaware that green leafy vegetables and herbs are also great sources of beta-carotene. While carrots provide 1700 µg and spinach 800 µg of vitamin A (the body can produce vitamin A – the eye vitamin – from beta-carotene), herbs can keep up here with almost no problems: dill provides 1000 µg of vitamin A, chervil and parsley with 900 µg and basil with 650 µg. The requirement is 900 µg of vitamin A.

Vitamin K1 fulfills important tasks in blood clotting and maintaining healthy bones and the heart. Just 15 g of chives would be enough to cover the officially stated daily vitamin K1 requirement.

Which secondary plant substances are contained in kitchen herbs?

It is mostly the secondary plant substances that turn herbs into medicinal herbs. These are, for example, carotenoids (which also includes beta carotene), flavonoids, anthocyanins, sulfides, mustard oil glycosides, tannins, saponins, monoterpenes, and many more.

Another extremely beneficial substance in kitchen herbs and all green leafy vegetables is chlorophyll. It is considered an excellent blood purifier and effectively supports the body’s own detoxification. Chlorophyll can even protect cells from mold and its highly toxic toxins (aflatoxins).

How do kitchen herbs work in the body?

The effects of kitchen herbs vary greatly depending on the species. However, since a plant always contains several substances at the same time, a broad spectrum of effects is achieved. Many secondary plant substances also strengthen and support each other in their effect.

The plant substances mentioned also work in combination with the vitamins, minerals, and trace elements that are also contained. In this way, culinary herbs generally have one

  • powerful antioxidant,
  • anti-inflammatory,
  • detoxifying,
  • anticancer,
  • immune system strengthening,
  • antimicrobial and
  • digestive effect.

These properties are then already aimed at the most common diseases of mankind. The chronic diseases of civilization in particular mostly develop

  • Excessive oxidative stress (herbs have an antioxidant effect),
  • chronic inflammatory processes (herbs have an anti-inflammatory effect),
  • a weakened immune system (herbs strengthen and relieve the immune system),
  • weak endogenous detoxification abilities (herbs support the body in detoxification),
  • Infections with bacteria, fungi, or viruses that throw the body off balance (herbs have an antimicrobial effect) as well as
  • a damaged intestinal mucosa and a disturbed intestinal flora (herbs help to restore intestinal health).

The most important kitchen herbs – effects, properties, and possible uses
Below we briefly describe the most important properties, effects, and areas of application of the kitchen herbs presented above. If you are interested in details about the individual herbs, you can find them by following the relevant links.


Basil is one of the most well-known kitchen herbs in the Mediterranean kitchen. It is often only served in connection with tomatoes, but in reality, it fits into almost every imaginable recipe. In basil there are u. a. its essential oils (e.g. linalool, citral, eugenol, etc.), which have very good anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, even analgesic, and anti-cancer effects. Yes, the anti-inflammatory effect is even said to be comparable to that of Cox-2 inhibitors, the conventional medical anti-inflammatory drugs used in chronic inflammatory diseases such as e.g. arthritis.

In addition, basil contains the plant substance cineole, which has expectorant and antibacterial properties, so basil also has a soothing effect on respiratory diseases (colds, asthma, and hay fever).

Another substance in basil is estragole. One often reads that it is harmful to health. In the corresponding studies, however, the pure estragole was isolated from the plant and administered to the test animals in highly concentrated form. However, even if you were to eat three or four tablespoons of chopped basil leaves a day, you wouldn’t ingest such high doses. Basil also contains many other substances that can possibly compensate for the harmful effects of an individual substance.


Dill is related to fennel. It is known in particular as a spice for all kinds of cucumber preparations. Basically, however, it fits into almost all salads, smoothies, dips, and sauces. In herbal medicine, dill is prescribed for flatulence and loss of appetite because it has a healing and regulating effect on the digestive system.

Garden cress and nasturtium

Like many kitchen herbs, cress is considered a natural blood thinner. Its high antioxidant content is said to be responsible for inhibiting thrombus formation and keeping the blood vessels relaxed. Of course, both have a beneficial effect on high blood pressure.

The pungent substances in the cress also have a very good anti-inflammatory and expectorant effect, so that they clear the airways when you have a cold. At the same time, the cress – especially the nasturtium – is considered to be strongly antibacterial, so it is already used in preparations against urinary tract infections and flu infections.

The cress is very easy to grow yourself. Garden cress grows on the windowsill in a few days – and in the garden, the nasturtium even shows itself again and again once it has established itself.


The sweet and spicy chervil originally comes from Eastern Europe and is related to parsley, dill, and aniseed. Its areas of application are correspondingly similar. Chervil is mostly used to flavor soups and sauces, but also dairy products. Instead of quark and cream cheese, you can also refine wonderfully pureed silken tofu, white almond butter (seasoned with lemon juice and a little salt), or vegan cream cheese with chervil and other herbs. Parsley and tarragon go very well with chervil.

The chervil is said to have blood-thinning properties and overall strengthening and revitalizing effect.


The coriander (its leaves) became particularly well-known in the alternative medicine scene for its supposedly detoxifying effect. It should even be able to mobilize heavy metals, such as the highly toxic mercury, out of the brain. However, the coriander should only be used for this purpose in combination with chlorella and wild garlic, both of which can bind and also remove the mercury released from the coriander. Otherwise – so it is said – it could be that the dissolved mercury continues to circulate in the body and can lead to damage. Therefore, it is advised not to use coriander in large quantities.

Coriander also helps with digestive problems (flatulence, stomach pain, feeling of fullness), infections, and, due to its high antioxidant content, chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatism.

Oregano and marjoram

Basil, oregano, and marjoram are among the Mediterranean kitchen herbs. Thanks to its strong antimicrobial effect, oregano is one of the herbal antibiotics and also has antifungal and parasite-fighting properties, so it can be used as an accompaniment to intestinal cleansing in the event of corresponding symptoms.

At the same time, oregano counteracts the formation of blood clots and is therefore considered a natural blood thinner. Like all herbs, oregano also has antioxidant abilities, but it contains such large amounts of antioxidants (flavonoids and phenolic acids) that it takes third place in the ranking of the most powerful antioxidant foods.

Its high content of essential oils also makes oregano a good home remedy for respiratory and digestive problems. Marjoram has a similar effect to oregano but is not quite as strong. It is used in folk medicine for digestive problems.


Parsley is a so-called aquaretic, which means that it is prescribed in naturopathy for flushing and activating the urinary tract and kidneys in order to prevent bladder and kidney stones. While conventional medicines for flushing can often lead to a potassium deficiency, parsley even supplies the body with large amounts of potassium, yes, it is even the most potassium-rich of all common foods.

Parsley can also be used against bad breath. To do this, simply chew a portion of parsley leaves regularly, like chewing gum. At the same time, this measure relieves heartburn and feelings of fullness.

Parsley is even said to be able to neutralize and render harmless carcinogenic substances that get into the lungs from the air (e.g. tobacco smoke) – an effect that has led to parsley being recommended in folk medicine for the prevention of lung cancer.


Peppermint is a great healer. Nevertheless, it is enjoyed daily as a tea by many people due to its refreshing aroma. Mint is particularly useful for gastrointestinal complaints because it eliminates harmful bacteria, and relieves cramps and flatulence. It also promotes the flow of bile, thus relieving the liver and preventing gallstones.

Peppermint is also an old and effective remedy for headaches. Their essential oil is said to have an analgesic effect just as good as conventional headache tablets.

Minced into almost any salad, peppermint is a revelation. It gives every recipe a refreshing delicacy that hardly any other ingredient can match.


Chives are such a common ingredient for most people that their effectiveness is often completely underestimated. Because in reality, the chives are u. a. thanks to its sulfur compounds, it is a great blood purifier and expectorant. It should also lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar and prevent arteriosclerosis, strokes, and heart attacks.

The chives also have a diuretic effect and thus support kidney and bladder health. The two plant substances quercetin and kaempferol also make chives a valuable component in cancer prevention.

In the future, don’t limit yourself to a few chives for decoration, but sprinkle half a bunch of chives over your sandwich or salad.

Lemon balm

Lemon balm is considered a soothing medicinal plant that can be used for sleep disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, hyperthyroidism, and even cardiac arrhythmia. Lemon balm is usually prepared in the form of tea. A leaf of lemon balm often adorns one or the other fruity dessert.

The lemon balm could also be chopped up and added to fruit salads or cream dishes. It tastes just as good in fresh herb salads and of course in green smoothies.

Can kitchen herbs be used during pregnancy?

Kitchen herbs can also be used during pregnancy, albeit in the lower quantities customary in the kitchen (1 – 2 tablespoons per day) or as a tea, since some of the substances contained can stimulate the uterus, which could lead to cramps or bleeding.

Can children also eat kitchen herbs?

With children, you should of course use kitchen herbs in smaller quantities. Here it is ideal if you offer children the herbs separately in a small bowl so that they can help themselves if they want to. Kitchen herbs should therefore not be mixed into children’s smoothies, as the natural herbal taste is buffered by fruits such as bananas, the body’s own warning mechanisms are ignored and too much of the herbs could therefore be accidentally consumed.

Most of the time, however, warnings about herbs refer to highly concentrated preparations, such as pure essential oils, which are not used internally in children at all and externally, if at all, only very sparingly.

Can you use kitchen herbs if you are taking medication?

Since some kitchen herbs can also have a “blood-thinning” effect – especially if you add them to the smoothie in large quantities – if you have to take blood-thinning medicines regularly, you should only use them in the dosages customary in the kitchen and not process and consume large quantities.

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Written by Micah Stanley

Hi, I'm Micah. I am a creative Expert Freelance Dietitian Nutritionist with years of experience in counseling, recipe creation, nutrition, and content writing, product development.

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