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Nutritious & Delicious Thyme

There are about sixty different varieties of thyme, and this herb has been used since ancient times for aromatic, culinary and medicinal application. Thyme was used by the ancient Greeks as incense, by the ancient Egyptians for preservation and by the Romans to purify their rooms.

Thyme is available in both fresh and dried forms. Fresh thyme is a seasonal herb and can be found in abundance from May-August. When purchasing fresh thyme, look for leaves that are free of yellowing and dark spots and are vibrant in green-gray color. If you choose the aroma and flavor of fresh thyme, proper storage methods will maintain freshness. Wrap the thyme sprigs in damp paper towels and then plastic, and refrigerate for up to one week.

Besides being a great addition to your culinary creations, this distinctive herb is an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin K, iron and the trace mineral manganese. Calcium and dietary fiber are also found in these vibrant green leaves. The essential oil of common thyme contains thymol, an antiseptic with antifungal and antibacterial properties. Thymol is the main active ingredient in many brands of mouthwash and some alcohol-free hand sanitizers. Thyme has also been shown to aid in treatment of respiratory infections and symptoms.

Thyme's aroma may help stimulate appetite. Try adding some fresh thyme leaves to scrambled eggs, soups, sauces, marinades, seasoning for meat, poultry, fish and vegetables or in making your own salad dressing. Thyme should be added toward the end of cooking to maintain its robust flavor. Infuse this herb into your olive oil and it will act as a preservative. Throw some fresh thyme leaves in hot water and make a comforting tea. You can also replace salt with thyme in recipes to make nutritious and delicious low sodium dishes.

This article was submitted by Erika Breitfeller RD, CDN, Clinical Nutritionist at NYP/Allen Hospital




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