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Oregano

This article is part of a larger article titled "100+ Healthiest Foods On Planet Earth."  Read it here.

Oregano Nutritional Information (per 100g)

Water: 9.9 g
Calories: 265 kcal
Protein: 9 g
Carbohydrate: 68.9 g
Dietary fiber: 42.5 g
Sugars: 4.1 g
Fat: 4.3 g
Saturated fat: 1.6 g
Monounsaturated fat: 0.7 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4 g
Vitamin C: 2.3 mg
Vitamin B1: 0.2 mg
Vitamin B2: 0.5 mg
Vitamin B3: 4.6 mg
Vitamin B6: 1 mg
Vitamin B9: 237 μg
Vitamin A: 85 μg
Vitamin E: 18.3 mg
Vitamin K: 621.7 μg
Calcium: 1597 mg
Iron: 36.8 mg
Magnesium: 270 mg
Phosphorus: 148 mg
Potassium: 1260 mg
Sodium: 25 mg
Zinc: 2.7 mg

Oregano is an herb commonly used in Italian and Mexican cuisine, and is probably most commonly used as a pizza topping, especially in the US. A fragrant and warming herb, oregano is not only available year round, and very versatile in the culinary sense, it also has some significant health benefits. In addition to respectable amounts of essential minerals, oregano also benefits from potent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal capacity, as well as having possible benefits for cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and even easing the effects of the common cold. All reason enough to try adding oregano to any dish.

Oregano is a fantastic source of a number of essential minerals. While a tablespoon of oregano contains just 13 calories, it also contains an impressive amount of iron; 11% of your Daily Value (DV). Not bad for a pizza topping! In addition, a tablespoon of oregano will provide you with 9% DV calcium and 4% DV magnesium. Why is this important? Well, iron deficiency is common, especially in women, and can lead to a number of issues, most commonly tiredness and paleness. Calcium is essential for bone health and magnesium is great for the cardiovascular system, meaning just a tablespoon of oregano packs a real nutritional punch!

Nutritionally, oregano may be great, but it is a herb, and you’re not going to get your daily nutrients just by making your food more flavoursome! Thankfully, oregano has a whole bunch of health benefits on top of its nutritional value. First off, oregano is great for preventing infection: it is proven to fight the pathogen listeria, and has been proven to be anti-fungal. It may even be a valuable weapon against the hospital ‘superbug’ MRSA: one researcher involved in preliminary studies said ‘We have done a few preliminary tests and have found that the essential oil from the oregano kills MRSA at a dilution 1 to 1,000’ (see here).

Aside from preventing infection, oregano is also fantastic for our more long term health, with potential for the prevention of atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty deposits on the insides of the arteries), and proven benefits against colon cancer. The essential oil in spray form may even have some benefits in relieving upper respiratory tract infections (colds and flu being common examples). Why oregano has such a positive effect on these diseases is not understood, but some of oregano’s health benefits may be due to the presence of carnosol, a compound with proven anti-cancer effects, or simply the proven antioxidant benefits of oregano. Regardless of the mechanism, the fact that oregano has such a large body of research into its health benefits is proof enough that we should all be eating it.