Oregano Health Benefits

Health Benefits of Oregano

Now that you’ve already tried your hand at staring your own herb garden, oregano is a fairly easy one to add to your repertoire. Also sometimes called Origanum or wild marjoram, it’s an aromatic herb most often used in Italian or Mediterranean cooking.

Derived from the Greek word “oros” meaning mountain, and “ganos” meaning joy, it pretty much ignites happiness without very much effort… all the more reason to cook up a big bowl of pasta for dinner this evening!

Health Benefits of Growing Oregano

In addition to its culinary uses, oregano is also known antibacterial, is useful in fighting bacteria and can even help to reduce inflammation.

Not only that, but it has plenty of significant health benefits too. Packed full of antioxidants (including thymol, carvacrol, limonene, terpinene, ocimene and caryophyllene),  it’s also rich in vitamin K with one teaspoon of dried oregano equating to 8% of a person’s daily needs.

The Benefits of Oregano

A handy addition to your home herb garden, oregano also has a multitude of health benefits.

Good antibacterial agent

 Not just a tasty way to season your food, oregano is actually quite a good antibacterial agent as it contains certain compounds that have potent antibacterial qualities. Further research his needed on the topic but several test tube studies have found oregano to be more effective against certain strains of bacteria than the likes of sage and thyme essential oils

Helpful in decreasing inflammation

Inflammation often occurs as a result of illness or injury but oregano, which is rich in antioxidants, can help reduce the symptoms of inflammation. Why? Because oregano contains compounds such as carvacrol which have been shown to combat swelling. 

Could be used to manage type 2 diabetes

One study testing the effect of Origanum Majoranum – an extract found in oregano leaves – concluded it to be a useful herbal medication in treating type 2 diabetes. According to the study, not only did it help to improve insulin resistance but it was also effective in restoring damaged liver/kidney tissues and regulating the expression of genes that affect fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

Tasty dinner using oregano – lemon oregano chicken and rice

Coming up with new things to make for dinner every week is no easy task. This one-pot lemon oregano chicken and rice combo is as tasty as it is quick though and it will be your go-to in no time.  

Cooking with Oregano

Ingredients

6 to 8 chicken thighs  (excess fat and skin trimmed off)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

185g basmati/brown rice

400ml chicken stock

2 sprigs fresh oregano

4-5 sprigs fresh thyme

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon herbs de provence

1 lemon zested and juiced, and 1 lemon sliced

Salt and black pepper to taste

Marinade

60ml olive oil

Juice and zest from one lemon

5 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh oregano

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon herbs de provence

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Add all of the marinade ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. Add the chicken and let it sit for at least 2-4 hours ­– if letting it marinade overnight, use just half a lemon instead. Place in the fridge but remove 30 mins prior to cooking.    
  2. Preheat the oven 200 degrees Celsius
  3. Heat some oil in a cast iron pan, then place the chicken (skin side down) on the pan to sear for about 8 to 10 minutes. After the skin is a nice golden-brown colour, turn it over and let it cook on the other side for just 1 minute.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium, add some more oil if needed and saute the onions until softened for about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the rice, then pour in the chicken stock, lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the fresh thyme, dried oregano, herbs de provence and stir gently until everything is combined.
  6. Add the chicken back to the pan, turn the heat to high and once it reaches a boil, place, the pan in the oven on the middle rack.
  7. Cook until the rice has fully absorbed the liquid and the chicken is fully cooked.
  8. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving with some more lemon juice and fresh oregano as a garnish on top.

Other ways to use fresh oregano when cooking/preparing food:

  • Stir into tomato-based pasta sauces
  • Use as a garnish on homemade pizza
  • Add to your morning omelette with feta and baby tomatoes
  • Mix into minced beef when making burgers
  • Combine with garlic and parmesan cheese to make oregano pesto

How to Grow Oregano

Here’s what you need to know iIf growing oregano is next on your list.

Sowing

Like most other herbs, oregano can be bought as a ready-grown plant but if you can pick up seeds at your local garden centre if you fancy trying to grow your own. Oregano seeds can be sown any time from February to May and are usually best started indoors until the danger of frost has passed. Then they can be moved to a sunny, sheltered spot outdoors. Simply fill a small pot with some seed compost, add a few seeds and cover with a light layer of multi-purpose compost.

Grow

While it’s important to ensure that your plant is well hydrated, avoid overwatering lest the roots may rot. Oregano plants require minimal upkeep, but you can keep your plant in check by trimming growth after the flowers fade in summer. Dead stems should be cut back to the base in winter too.

Keep your plant in a warm sheltered spot during colder months. In autumn, oregano plants do best lifted up in well-lit spots. 

How to Store Oregano

Fresh oregano leaves can be harvested from late spring onwards. Snip off a few shoots using a scissors and then peel off the leaves which can then be added to whatever meal you’re cooking up that day.  Oregano is most flavoursome when picked fresh but you can freeze it for future use by placing the leaves in an ice tray with some water.

Alternatively, you can also dry your oregano leaves by hanging the sprigs in a dark, well-ventilated area for a few weeks.  Wait until fully dry before taking the leaves off the sprig and storing in an air-tight container.

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