When you think of Oregano, you probably think of Italian food and the toppings on your pizza and pasta. While oregano is a tasty addition to your favorite recipes, it is also linked with many health benefits! The aromatic herb is packed with healthy nutrients and is a great source of vitamins and minerals. It contains levels of iron, calcium, folate, Vitamin K, and Potassium, and Phosphorus, to name a few. Just one teaspoon contains protein, fiber, and carbohydrates.

This impressive herb is native to western and southwestern Europe and the Mediterranean region. However, today, it is able to grow on many continents and in a variety of weather conditions. It has olive-green leaves, with purple flowers, and can grow up to 3 feet tall!  Oregano can be used fresh, dried, or as an oil, which makes it easy to incorporate into your diet. No matter how you choose to consume it, all three of these forms have been shown to be beneficial to your health. From neutralizing free-radicals, to reducing viral infections, science has uncovered Oregano’s positive effects on the human body. Here’s a closer look at how this mighty herb can enhance your health.

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Fights Bacteria

Research shows that carvacrol, a compound found in oregano, is effective in eliminating the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis, which are two common causes of infection. One test-tube study even found that oregano was effective against 23 species of bacteria.

Anti-Cancer Properties

This aromatic herb is rich in antioxidants, which have been shown to neutralize free-radical damage. Studies have even shown that its properties may reduce cancer cell growth in some test-tube studies. According to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, “Oregano contains carvacrol, a molecule that may help offset the spread of cancer cells by working as a natural disinfectant.”

Reduces Viral Infections

Some test-tube studies have found that oregano may help the body protect itself against some viruses. Carvacrol and thymol are two compounds in oregano that are linked with antiviral properties. In one test-tube study, it was found that thymol and carvacrol inactivated 90% of a herpes simplex virus within as little as one hour.

Decreases Inflammation

Inflammation is a normal immune response in the body, but unfortunately, it may lead to disease over time. According to a study conducted by Swiss researchers, oregano is the “ultimate inflammation fighter” due to its active ingredient betacaryophyllin (E-BCP). In this study, carvacrol reduced swelling in the paws of mice by up to 57%.

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Improves Digestion

If you experience digestive issues, you may want to consider adding oregano oil to your diet. Carvacrol, and thymol, are two compounds found within oregano, both of which help to calm an upset stomach and aid digestion. One study shows that carvacrol in particular “has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties – and has been shown to be effective for killing yeast and other types of harmful bacteria in the GI tract.”

Check out some of these recipes with oregano:

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