Updated: Aug 16
Perilla (aka shiso), an herb native to East Asia, is a treasure trove of both culinary and health benefits. With its distinctive flavour, a combination of mint and basil-like notes, perilla - green or purple - is a versatile herb that adds a unique twist to a variety of dishes. It is a common ingredient in Asian cuisines, often used to wrap sushi, garnish salads, and flavour soups and stir-fries.
Beyond its culinary appeal, perilla is rich in beneficial polyphenols that contribute to its potential health-promoting properties. One of the key polyphenols found in perilla is rosmarinic acid, which is also present in herbs like basil, rosemary, and oregano. Rosmarinic acid is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound, helping to combat oxidative stress and reduce inflammation in the body.
"Slightly astringent, perilla's flavour can be enjoyed in rich stews or simply infused to make tea on a hot day."
Another significant polyphenol in perilla is luteolin, a flavonoid known for its antioxidant and anti-allergic effects. Luteolin may help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and alleviate allergic reactions by inhibiting inflammatory responses.
Perilla contains apigenin, a flavone with potential anticancer properties. Apigenin has been studied for its ability to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells, which could play a role in cancer prevention and treatment.
Perilla contains essential oils like perillaldehyde and limonene, which contribute to its unique flavour and aroma while also exhibiting antimicrobial and digestive-supporting properties.
"Perilla, known as shiso in Japan is that ubiquitous little leaf served with sashimi and sushi. Used to keep the fish fresh and can also be enjoyed pickled."
As part of a nutritionally rich, whole health lifestyle, at The Whole Health Practice we advocate enjoying herbs (and spices) as a regular part of one’s diet. While some herbs have shown positive results for specific health outcomes, nutrition science and the interaction of polyphenols from different plant sources is incredibly complex. Enjoy a healthy eating pattern with a variety of herbs, spices and whole foods that work in synergy to promote maximum health. Think fruits, berries, beans, vegetables, and whole grains; add colour to your dishes wherever possible.
Try incorporating perilla into your culinary endeavours and discover the delightful flavours and potential well-being benefits it brings to your table.
More than just taste, herbs can bring health and joy to our lives. Read on for our complete collection of articles, recipes and more...
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Asif M. Phytochemical study of polyphenols in Perilla Frutescens as an antioxidant. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2012 Fall;2(4):169-78. PMID: 25050247; PMCID: PMC4075683.