The benefits of rosemary

Rosemary is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves. In the local markets, a small bunch goes for about Rwf 500.

It’s known for its taste, flavour and aroma.

 

In addition, rosemary can be used in tea or as an essential oil or liquid extract.

 

It is typically prepared as a whole dried herb or a dried powdered extract.

 

Health benefits

Yvonne Mushimiyimana, a Kigali-based nutritionist, says this herb not only tastes good in dishes but it is also a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6.

“Rosemary is not only known for its taste and smell; it is also renowned for the many health benefits it possesses,” she says.

She adds that it’s a good source of iron, calcium and vitamins A, C, and B-6, and has also been used for its medicinal purposes.

The nutritionist says that rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which help in boosting the immune system and improve blood circulation.

Antioxidants compounds can be found in a variety of plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and herbs like rosemary, Mushimiyimana says.

Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association, Kigali, says that rosemary tea also contains compounds that may have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Due to its antioxidant capability, he says rosemary can also be used as a natural preservative to increase the shelf life of perishable foods.

It is also considered a cognitive stimulant and can help improve memory performance and quality.

Musengimana says that rosemary is also known to boost alertness, intelligence, and focus.

Meanwhile, studies have shown that the aroma of rosemary has been linked to improving mood, clearing the mind, and relieving stress in those with chronic anxiety or stress hormone imbalances.

Mushimiyimana says rosemary is often used for digestion problems, including heartburn, intestinal gas, liver and gallbladder complaints, and loss of appetite.

She says that the nutrients in rosemary help protect skin cells from damage often caused by the sun and free radicals.

However, Mushimiyimana cautions that rosemary is safe when taken in low doses, but if consumed in high doses, it can lead to vomiting, spasms, or even pulmonary edema (a condition caused by excess fluid in the lungs).

Other benefits

According to Musengimana, rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation.

He explains that because of antioxidants, it helps play an important role in neutralising harmful particles called free radicals.

He adds that using rosemary can as well aid in enhancing memory and concentration.

“It has been proved that the aroma from rosemary can improve a person’s concentration, performance, speed, and accuracy and, to a lesser extent, their mood,” he says.

He adds that scientists have found that rosemary may also be good for the brain, as it contains an ingredient called carnosic acid, which can fight off damage by free radicals in the brain.

“Rosemary has also been confirmed to significantly help prevent brain ageing,” he says.

The herb, he says, might be useful as an anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour agent.

Furthermore, Mushimiyimana says that a carnosic acid, which is a major component of rosemary, can significantly promote eye health.

This, she says, could have clinical applications for diseases affecting the outer retina, such as age-related macular degeneration.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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