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Try rosemary to boost flavour

Rosemary has been used widely in Mediterranean cuisine, but it can be added to a variety of foods, including various meats, fish, eggs, breads, soups and vegetables such as potatoes. Herbs such as rosemary add flavour without adding calories or sodium. It can be used fresh or dried, and in general, use about one-half as much dried as fresh.

Rosemary has been used in weddings, funerals and other ceremonies throughout the ages, and its lemony, pine-like aroma has been used to add fragrance to lotions. Although little research is available to prove its effectiveness, rosemary has a long history of use in complementary medicine.

For example, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, rosemary extracts have been used in complementary medicine to ease muscle and joint aches and treat alopecia (patchy baldness). The leaves have been used to treat indigestion.

More recently, some research has been conducted to explore the role of the rosemary scent in memory. The participants in the study didn’t eat the rosemary; they simply smelled the aroma of rosemary oil in various concentrations as they worked.

One group of researchers identified a chemical compound in rosemary that may enter the bloodstream through the lining of the nasal passages or lungs. They noted improvements in overall mental performance. The researchers proposed that a rosemary compound may prevent the breakdown of a chemical in our nervous system needed for brain function.

However, intriguing as these results are, a study or two doesn’t prove that rosemary aroma helps our memory.

Scientists note some precautions with the medicinal use of rosemary. Although rosemary supplements are available, their safety and effectiveness have not been well studied, and they may have interactions with prescription medications. Some people may have allergic reactions to rosemary, and high doses of rosemary supplements are linked to miscarriage. Be sure to visit with a medical professional before taking supplements.

Try some rosemary in your cooking, though. You can create some memorable meals with a delicious aroma by adding some rosemary and other herbs to your recipes.

About the author

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Julie Garden-Robinson is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

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