Physicians commonly recommend that individuals consume healthy diets, get sufficient amounts of exercise, quit smoking and drink alcohol in moderation in order to have a long, healthy life. However, when a San Diego University of California cardiologist and professor arrived in Acciaroli, Italy for vacation, he experienced disbelief and shock.
While basking in the sun of the Italian Amalfi Coast, the doctor witnessed an abundance of elderly people with leathery, tanned skin who were overweight and smoking. Amazingly, these adults were also over the age of 80. In fact, the village of Acciaroli has a meager population of approximately 2,000 permanent residents. Uniquely, approximately 300 of the older adults were 100 years of age, and 60 professed to being at least 110. Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease rates were extremely low despite the fact the the people enjoyed smoking and regularly indulging in drinking wine.
Once Dr. Maisel returned to the U of C in San Diego, he determined to uncover the secret to Acciaroli’s fountain of youth. He and his team of researchers teamed with scientists from the Sapienza University in Rome to unravel the mystery. One of the clues provided by village elders revealed that locals habitually used the common herb rosemary.
All of the households grow the herb, which comes from the Lamiaceae mint family that also includes basil, oregano and thyme. In Italian cuisine, fragrant rosemary is a common ingredient in chicken and lamb dishes or used as a garnish. Many also create rosemary oils.
The Many Health Benefits of Rosemary
According to dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick, fresh rosemary contains essential oils that are a good source of calcium, iron and vitamin B6. Rosemary is available fresh, dried whole or dried and powdered. The liquid or tea extracts are made from the dried or fresh leaves of the plant.
How Much Rosemary Do I Consume?
Kristin estimates a diet that consumes two tablespoons of any form of the herb a few times weekly offers a variety of health benefits.
“Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry,” “Cell Journal,” the “Journal of Food Science,” “Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmocology” and other medical publications discuss the advantages of including rosemary as a regular part of a diet.
Helps Prevent Cancer
Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory chemical compounds in the plant improve blood circulation and the immune system while neutralizing free radicals. The ethanolic compounds in the herb have been shown to interfere with the development and reproductive properties of breast cancer cells, leukemia and other tumors.
Helps Boost Your Brain
The carnosic acid compounds in rosemary not only prevent free radical damage, which causes brain aging, but the chemicals are also thought to protect neurons from the beta-amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s. Some researchers claim that the components of rosemary essential oil will improve mental concentration and increase memory by 75%.
Helps Protect Your Eyes
Carnosic acid also promotes visual health and is believed to act as a protectant against the development of macular degeneration.
Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
According to food research scientists, various chemical compounds in rosemary, marjoram and oregano have the possibility of regulating blood sugar for patients living with type 2 diabetes. These compounds may be as effective as prescription medications.
How to Add Rosemary to Your Diet
Here are a few tasty ways you can easily add rosemary to your diet:
- Insert rosemary, garlic and lemon into a chicken or along the length of pork loin.
- Roast potatoes with garlic, olive oil and rosemary.
- Toss a few sprigs in soups or stews.
- Baste each half of a butternut squash with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary, shiitake mushrooms, salt, pepper and bake.
- Add a sprig to melted butter for 30 minutes and remove. Use the butter to enhance the flavor of brownies or chocolate cake.
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