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Oregano is a wonderful herb, both to use in your cooking and to use therapeutically as needed.

More Than Flavor: Why Use Oregano in Your Cooking?

Oregano’s warm, aromatic flavor works well with many foods (not just Italian). Try adding it to your salad dressings, vegetables, or eggs, for starters. Beyond this, one of the best uses for oregano in your cooking is adding it to meat prior to cooking, which may help reduce the toxic compounds created during the cooking process.

Even if you’re not a gardener, oregano is an herb that’s very easy to grow at home, which would give you a virtually free and ongoing fresh supply of this wonderful herb. Better still, oregano is a perennial, which means it will keep coming back year after year (it works well grown in containers, too).

Simply clip what you need and use it fresh, or dry it before use (dried oregano is also found in the popular “herbes de Provence” spice blend). Keep dried oregano in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

When purchasing oregano, you’ll likely find two varieties: Mediterranean oregano (also known as Greek oregano, Turkish oregano, and European oregano) and Mexican oregano.

Although their flavors are similar, Mediterranean oregano and Mexican oregano come from two different plants. Mexican oregano is actually most closely related to lemon verbena and has a stronger, more pungent and also less sweet flavor than Mediterranean oregano.

In choosing which one to use in your cooking, Mexican oregano works well in spicy, intensely flavored dishes alongside spices like cumin and chili powder. Mediterranean oregano works well with Italian dishes, fish, lamb, salads, vegetables, and other dishes with more mild flavors.

The Top 5 Health Benefits of Oregano

1. Antioxidants for Immune System Support

One active agent in oregano is rosmarinic acid, which is a strong antioxidant that may support immune system health. Oregano has one of the highest antioxidant activity ratings, with 42 times the antioxidant punch of apples.

2. Antifungal, Antibacterial, and May Even Kill MRSA

Carvacol and thymol, two phytochemicals in oregano, are powerful antimicrobials. Research has shown essential oils from oregano may kill the foodborne pathogen Listeria4 and the superbug MRSA (making it a useful addition to hand soaps and disinfectants).

3. Anti-inflammatory Properties

Oregano contains beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP), a substance that inhibits inflammation and may also be beneficial for conditions including osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis,8 as well as metabolic syndrome.9

4. Useful for Upper Respiratory Infections

Oregano also has potential anti-viral activity, and a spray containing aromatic essential oils from five plants, including oregano, was found to significantly relieve symptoms “immediately” in those with upper respiratory infections.

5. Cancer-Fighting Effects

Oregano extract has been shown to “lead to growth arrest and cell death in a dose- and time-dependent manner” in colon cancer cells. A phytochemical in oregano, carnosol, has also been “evaluated for anti-cancer property in prostate, breast, skin, leukemia, and colon cancer with promising results.”

Oregano is such an easy herb to implement into your diet especially since it’s a dry herb so you can just keep it in your pantry and just throw a dash in your food on a daily basis!