Fact: Adding Dill to a Dish Dials Up the Anti-Inflammatory Benefits and Flavor Instantly

Photo: Stocksy/ Sophia Hsin
The fact that dill is many-a-chef's go-to 'secret ingredient' herb should come as little surprise. It’s bright, herbaceous, and slightly grassy notes (in a very good way) add depth of fresh flavor to even the most basic of dishes. Hi, dill pickles.

But aside from taking a dish from zero to 60 with just one “Bam!,” the humble herb is touted for its impressive health benefits. To that end, we caught up with Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston—she shared numerous dill benefits with us, from anti-inflammatory perks and key vitamins to helping reduce gassiness (score). Plus: who shouldn't consume dill, dill's impact on your gut, and more delightful reasons this herb's kind of a big dill.

Experts In This Article

What are the benefits of consuming dill? 

According to Manaker, consuming dill can provide several essential nutrients. “Dill is a natural source of certain micronutrients, including vitamin C, manganese, folate, and iron,” Manaker says. Additionally, she notes that dill has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits when consumed in adequate amounts, which are specifically helpful for boosting skin health. “Dill is also shown to contain nutrients that support skin health, like vitamins A and C,” she says.

Another great benefit? Manaker says dill is a wonderful way to add layers of flavor to a dish without reaching for the salt shaker. “Too much sodium can be harmful to the kidneys for those with kidney disease. Using dill can help people limit their sodium intake, ultimately helping them support their kidney health,” Manaker says. “Dill can also help people consume less sodium if they have high blood pressure by helping them limit their sodium intake as well.”

Is dill good for the gut?

Since gut health is top of mind for many, we asked Manaker about the potential benefits of consuming this herb for boosting digestion. She shared that studies suggest dill can help mitigate excess gas. Meanwhile, other research shows dill seeds may be beneficial in treating indigestion.

That said, Manaker believes that most folks don’t eat enough dill regularly to truly reap the gut health benefits on its own. As such, dill in supplement form may be a good alternative source, although folks should consult with a medical professional before incorporating it into their diet.

Who should not eat dill leaves?

Although you may be tempted to start garnishing every single dish with a bunch of dill ASAP—and you should—a couple quick addendums on folks who may be sensitive to the herb. For starters, like many other foods, it’s possible to experience an allergic reaction to the ingredient. “You can be allergic to dill just like any other plant and herb. If you’re allergic, of course, avoid consuming dill,” Manaker says.

That said, if you’re unsure whether or not you’re allergic to the ingredient, the registered dietitian says there’s a correlation between allergies to dill and another food that may help before diving headfirst into a (potentially dangerous) trial and error experiment. “Weirdly, people who are allergic to carrots may also be allergic to dill,” she says. This, she says, is because both ingredients come from the parsley-carrot family (aka, Apiaceae). In that same group, you’ll find other popular staples like parsnips, parsley (a perennial herb), fennel, cumin, celery, and coriander.

When in doubt, Manaker stresses that you should consult a healthcare professional about whether or not dill (and other dill-derived products or supplements) are right for you. “As with any food, talk to your doctor before taking it as an herbal supplement or using it on your skin, especially for those who are pregnant or nursing and those with sensitive skin. If you are taking prescription medication, you should be aware that there are potential interactions when consuming dill regularly with your pills,” Manaker says.

What are dill tea benefits?

In case you’re wondering: Can you boil dill and drink it? The answer is yes, definitely. However, Manaker cautions that not everyone will be keen on the flavor—especially not in her opinion. “I wouldn’t recommend drinking this like tea, as it has an incredibly potent flavor, and I just can’t imagine it tasting good,” she says. A better (tasting) option? Manaker says to keep it simple and use it as a garnish instead. “Use it as you would any other spice or garnish. You can add it to a potato salad after giving it a fine chop, or you can make homemade dill pickles,” Manaker says.

“Use it as you would any other spice or garnish. You can add it to a potato salad after giving it a fine chop, or you can make homemade dill pickles,” Manaker says.

And while the leafy fronds of dill are what you typically find in most recipes, Manaker notes that dill seeds are a great flavoring agent, too. “Dill seed, on the other hand, comes from the same plant, and they have a much more pungent flavor and are great for pickling,” she says. And it goes without says that contain health benefits, too. “Dill seeds are a part of the same plant and have similar health benefits, including potential gut and bone health benefits. The seeds contain nutrients and antioxidants as well,” Manaker says. So if you find it nearly impossible to keep herbs fresh, dill seeds might be your best bet.

Is dill high in estrogen?

In one word: No. Some folks may have heard that dill contains estrogen—which isn’t exactly accurate. As such, Manaker delves into the topic while making a few important distinctions. “Similarly to what soy offers, dill has phytoestrogens or plant compounds that are estrogen-like and may act in the body the same way estrogen does,” Manaker says. Some research indicates that phytoestrogens can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, breast cancer, and menopausal symptoms. While  more research is needed on the topic, it's health experts agree: Dill is safe for the majority of the population to consume without worry.

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