The underrated everyday herb that boosts immunity and fights inflammation

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Food: What the heck should I eat?
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When it comes to fighting inflammation—AKA ground zero for issues like arthritis, leaky gut, and cognitive diseasesturmeric gets a lot of love. But it isn’t the only herb in your pantry that’s full of health benefits.

One of Food: What The Heck Should I Eat author Mark Hyman, MD‘s favorite spices is rosemary. “Overall, it’s a nutrient powerhouse,” Dr. Hyman says.

Curious about how this everyday herb can give your body a boost? Keep reading to get the full low-down, plus ways to incorporate it into your meals—beyond just your grandmother’s chicken recipe.

Scroll down to learn about the health benefits of rosemary.

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How it benefits the body

“Rosemary carries an impressive resume,” Dr. Hyman says. Among the jobs it’s primed to perform: improving brain health (one study found it to have significant cognitive benefits for elderly test subjects), fighting off bacterial infections, warding off cancer, helping prevent diabetes, and  protecting the liver. Quite a list, right?

Dr. Hyman names the herb’s high antioxidant count and anti-inflammatory properties as key contributors for these benefits. “The acids—caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid—are anti-inflammatory, and may be helpful in reducing the inflammation that contributes to asthma, liver disease, and heart disease,” he says, crediting The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth author Jonny Bowden, MD, for this info.

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Unexpected ways to use rosemary

Chances are, your favorite roasted chicken recipe calls for the multi-tasking herb, but Dr. Hyman has come up with some other ways to use rosemary in the kitchen. “Rosemary is an incredibly versatile herb that goes well with and adds splendid flavor to many dishes,” he says. One super-simple way: Cook your vegetables with it. Whether you’re roasting ’em or seasoning them in a skillet with oil, adding rosemary makes your healthy veggies even healthier.

“Even legumes taste better with rosemary,” Dr. Hyman says. “Try heating up canned beans with one to two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, some fresh rosemary, and sea salt. Add sautéed, chopped vegetables to the beans.” Done and done.

If you eat meat, Dr. Hyman suggests adding rosemary extract to your beef patties before cooking them. “While I’m all for eating grass-fed, humanely raised meat, grilling or cooking meats can also create heterocyclic amines (HCAs),” he says. “These suspected human carcinogens are formed in muscle foods during high temperature grilling or cooking.” Fortunately, cooking with rosemary can counteract that.

So there you have it: an everyday ingredient you probably already own—and if you don’t, it’s a cheap one to buy—that can do wonders for your body while adding a flavorful touch to your food. Move over, turmeric; it’s time to make some room on the shelf for another superhero herb.

For more advice from Dr. Hyman, find out why it’s important to do a detox before starting a diet and why he recommends all his patients go pegan, AKA Paleo-vegan.

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