Oregano means “mountain joy” and along with basil, is synonymous with tomato based Italian cooking. But, this herb is widely used in Turkish, Greek, Spanish and Mexican culinary dishes too. The flavor of oregano depends on where it is grown; plants grown in hotter climates have a stronger flavor. If oregano is too overpowering for certain dishes, substitute with sweet marjoram, a close relative that has a more delicate flavor.
The main constituents in oregano include carvacrol, thymol, limonene, pinene, ocimeme and caryophyllene. These phytonutrients exert powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
Dried oregano is a good source of vitamin K.
Although many varieties are grown, Greek oregano is most commonly found at the market. Oregano, either in its fresh or dried form, should be added toward the end of the cooking process since heat can easily cause a loss of its delicate flavor. Add a dash of oregano to Tomato Soup. Make your own Greek Salad Dressing and toss with romaine lettuce, Kalmata olives, fresh tomato and cucumber.
A USDA study found that, gram for gram; oregano has the highest antioxidant activity of 27 fresh culinary herbs.
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.