Posted on 25th April 2018 at 15:29
Celebrate sage for it's all year round availability and anti-inflammatory properties
Now that the sun has arrived (at least temporarily) I am being drawn to the garden and have been taking stock of what is thriving, emerging or in need of a good haircut.
My veg box this week contained some very nice purple sprouting broccoli. Lovely, except I already have 3 plants in the garden that I walk past every day. They are producing very nicely now but I forgot about them when I placed my weekly veg order. Not to worry, we all know broccoli is good for us and this week it will be making a large and frequent contribution to my 5+ a day.
But broccoli of course needs a partner or two to keep it interesting. The warmer weather has been bringing on many of the herbs that grow around and about my plot so I have some choices in that respect but it can be easy to get in a rut as far as herbs are concerned. There is no doubt that parsley, chives, mint and coriander have loads of health benefits but sage is one herb that is often underrated and overlooked. That’s a shame because it is fully evergreen so with a minimal amount of care it can be harvested all year round in the UK.
Inflammation on a cellular level is the main reason the body ages faster than it should and sage has great anti-inflammatory properties. For those who just want to keep their levels of inflammation low naturally then adding sage to their meals on a regular basis makes good sense, and anyone suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, asthma or atherosclerosis (which causes a hardening of the arteries) could benefit his or her condition with a regular intake.
Sage requires little maintenance over the year. It enjoys dry conditions and a sunny spot, and a mulch of fresh organic matter in the autumn will boost the nutrient content and keep the roots protected from harsh frosts. A little pruning after the flowers die down will keep it looking good and as the flavour fades after about 3 years, cuttings can be taken to produce new, more flavoursome plants. The leaves are best used fresh and they’re not just good for sage and onion stuffing, they complement spring vegetables such as sprouting broccoli and asparagus perfectly.
Sage has many health benefits and research has shown that even small amounts, whether inhaled or consumed, can increase recall abilities and memory retention in people and that concentration and focus on a chosen topic is enhanced. This makes sense, as it is relative of rosemary, which is celebrated for its memory boosting properties.
One of the most overlooked benefits of sage is its superior level of vitamin K, a crucial element in developing bone density and ensuring the integrity of our bones as we age. Early signs of osteoporosis are an indication of low levels so adding some sage to the diet at that stage is a useful strategy.
Like all other common cooking herbs, sage lends its antibacterial properties to your mouth. It battles plaque to prevent and cure damage from tooth decay, and can help clean out oral sores. Brewing a cup of sage tea and rinsing your mouth with it is a cheap and easy way to keep your mouth, and thus your body, healthy.
So while the sun has encouraged me back into the garden and many other herbs are only starting to emerge I can rely on sage as a tasty, nutritious accompaniment to my early-season broccoli glut.
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