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17
APR

Rosemary: A Fragrant Force

Filed Under: Herbs at 9:18 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Rosemary Seasons

Traditionally, rosemary has been an herb of memory, relied on by the Ancient Greeks when studying, thrown into graves as a symbol of remembrance and woven into weddings to represent fidelity. But time and testing have proven that the pungent herb awakens more than the mind. It stimulates the immune system, aiding digesting and circulation, and has been known to lessen the severity of asthma attacks. And now it is thought to fight cancer by fighting acrylamide.

Acrylamide is a substance that has presumably been present in foods for thousands of years, forming when carbohydrate-dense products are fried, baked, roasted or grilled at temperatures above 120 degrees. However, it has only just been discovered by scientists, and so the FDA is unsure of how it affects the body. Animal tests label it a carcinogen, and human tests suggest that it may cause nerve damage. Both possibilities are alarming enough to have stimulated an Action Plan and rounds of studies.

One such study has found that rosemary can significantly lessen the amount of acrylamide present in foods. It doesn’t take much, just a bit tossed into dough before bread is baked or something similar cooked, and you have a lower level of a possibly deadly substance.

Rosemary’s power is matched only by its scent and taste – both of which are pungent, intoxicating and delightful. Adding a little bit to your diet shouldn’t be difficult. It can flavor meats, soups, sauces, breads, dips and anything else you can imagine. But be careful. It is strong. Too much of the herb could eclipse the other nuances of your dish, leaving you healthier but not happier.

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