Updated: Aug 27
Thyme, a fragrant and versatile herb commonly used in culinary dishes, not only adds delightful flavour to meals but also boasts numerous health benefits. This herb, native to the Mediterranean region and its cuisine, has been cherished for centuries for its culinary and medicinal properties.
From a culinary perspective, thyme is a culinary powerhouse, elevating the taste of various dishes such as soups, stews, roasted vegetables, and meats. Its distinct earthy and slightly minty-earthy flavour enhances the overall profile of a dish, making it a favourite among chefs and home cooks alike.
"Thyme's flavour is robust. Add thyme early in the cooking process and allow its flavour to infuse before adding more."
Beyond its culinary allure, thyme possesses an array of health-promoting properties. It is rich in various essential vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K, which support the immune system, vision, and bone health. However, one of the most notable health components of thyme is its abundance of polyphenols, which are plant compounds known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Among the key polyphenols found in thyme, one stands out, rosmarinic acid. This powerful polyphenol not only acts as an antioxidant, neutralising harmful free radicals in the body, but it also exhibits anti-inflammatory effects, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and certain cancers.
Other bioactive compounds include: thymol, carvacrol, cineole, α-pinene; apigenin, β-carotene, eugenol, limonene, ursolic acid, luteolin, gallic acid, caffeic acid, carnosic acid, hispidulin and cismaritin.
Thymol is a polyphenol known for its antimicrobial properties. Thymol has been used traditionally for its ability to combat bacterial and fungal infections, making thyme a valuable herb for maintaining oral health and supporting the immune system.
Thyme can be an excellent source of potassium, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium and selenium.
"I love thyme's utility. Its earthy herbal undertones permeating long, slow-cooked braises or bringing flavour to wood-fired and roasted dishes."
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.
Incorporating thyme into your culinary creations not only enhances the taste of your meals but also provides a wealth of health benefits. So, the next time you savour this delightful herb, relish in the knowledge that you are also nourishing your body with its valuable polyphenols, contributing to your overall well-being.
Learn more about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
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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Hammoudi Halat D, Krayem M, Khaled S, Younes S. A Focused Insight into Thyme: Biological, Chemical, and Therapeutic Properties of an Indigenous Mediterranean Herb. Nutrients. 2022 May 18;14(10):2104. doi: 10.3390/nu14102104. PMID: 35631245; PMCID: PMC9147557.
Isbill J, Kandiah J, Kružliaková N. Opportunities for Health Promotion: Highlighting Herbs and Spices to Improve Immune Support and Well-being. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2020 Oct;19(5):30-42. PMID: 33488303; PMCID: PMC7815254.