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Why Fresh Herbs Have More Nutritional Value than Dried


My herb garden

My herb garden


Dried herbs

Dried herbs

I did a presentation the other day on herbs that heal. Marcie, who attended, had this question:

Do dry herbs and spices have the same nutritional benefits as their fresh counterparts? 

 It depends on which herbs and spices (and which nutritional benefits) you’re talking about.

  • Cinnamon  is only consumed in its dried form but powdered cinnamon has been shown to help modulate the rise in blood sugar after meals. Cloves, another healing herb, is always used dried.
  • Ginger can be used either as a fresh root or as a dried powder but either way, has anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Same with garlic and onions.
  • Dried spices like cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper all have high ORAC scores, which indicate antioxidant potential.  A teaspoon of these spices is comparable to a serving of blueberries or strawberries.

Fresh and Dried Herbs: there is a difference

When it comes to green herbs, some nutrients–and some flavor compounds–will inevitably be lost  in the drying process, and more will be lost with extended storage.   But that doesn’t mean that all dried herbs are nutritionally worthless.

Which is best nutritionally?

One oz. of fresh basil  provides 30% of the DV for vitamin A, 145% of the DV for vitamin K, 8% of the DV for vitamin C. It contains 88mg of omega-3 fatty acids and has an ORAC value of 1200.

One tablespoon of dry basil (which is roughly the same amount) provides just 4% of the vitamin A, 43% of vitamin K, and only 2% of vitamin C.  It only has about 33mg of omega-3 fatty acids.

Apparently, quite a bit is lost in the drying process–although a third of a day’s supply of vitamin K is still a good thing.

Pick fresh herbs in the morning

Pick herbs right before you use them.  I like to give them a shower with the hose the day before I pick. Picking in the morning is my preference, especially with herbs like lavender, which start releasing their volatile oils around noon when the sun is shining.

Dried herbs still are a source of both nutrition and flavor.  Dry your own fresh herbs for maximum freshness, flavor and nutrition.IMG_9344

(Thanks to the “loyal” reader who shared some of this info from Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN).


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