If you look at the average spice rack, you’ll probably spot some salt, pepper and oregano. Perhaps an Italian herb blend and maybe even some bay leaves too.
But a lot of American spice racks lack thyme. Which is a shame because it’s woodsy, slightly minty flavor is delicious. Plus they’re missing out on some unexpected health benefits of thyme.
6 surprising health benefits of thyme
We’re willing to bet once you learn about the health benefits of thyme that you’re going to want to try it in your own cooking. And once you do, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been using it all along.
1. Protect your heart:
Researchers are just starting to scratch the surface of what thyme may be able to do for our hearts. In early studies, thyme improved heart health markers across the board.
In studies, thyme has successfully reduced heart rate, triglycerides and blood pressure. And according to experts, thyme doesn’t just lower overall cholesterol numbers. The spice also can boost HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.
2. Relieve a cough:
According to a study out of Germany, thyme combined with ivy relieved coughing by 50 percent. Plus folks taking the combo were completely cough free a full two days earlier than volunteers who took a placebo.
Place a few fresh thyme sprigs in a mug and pour hot water over them. Allow the tea to steep for at least 15 minutes. Remove the thyme and flavor with a touch of raw honey or lemon if you like. Sip on several cups a day until your cough subsides.
Ivy leaf tea is available online and in some health food stores as well. A brand we like is TerraVita.
3. Fight cancer:
Studies have revealed thyme could help us fight cancer.
Turkish researchers found that thyme extract effectively killed breast cancer cells. But at the same time, the extract left surrounding healthy cells alone.
In another study, researchers showed that several different compounds in thyme can kill colon cancer cells. And experts believe the spice could help protect us against colon cancer.
4. Boost mood:
In 2013, researchers found that carvacrol, the active substance in thyme, naturally raises dopamine and serotonin levels.
Dopamine and serotonin are the two brain chemicals responsible for how we feel emotionally. Healthy levels of both help you feel happy and ward off depression.
In fact, carvacrol is so effective at boosting mood that adding thyme to your meals on a regular basis could be enough to reap the feel-good results.
5. Support the immune system:
Certain cells in your immune system, including phagocytes and t-cells, gobble up vitamin C and need it to do their job effectively. Plus your immune system requires plenty of vitamin A to kill off pathogens and build T-cells and B-cells.
And it turns out thyme is an excellent source of both of these immunity-boosting vitamins.
With cold and flu season just around the corner, add some thyme tea to your evening routine and stay healthy year-round.
6. Soothe a sore throat:
It turns out the carvacrol in thyme doesn’t just boost mood. The compound also has some powerful antimicrobial properties. This means thyme could help soothe your sore throat, even when antibiotics haven’t done the job.
If your throat gets scratchy sip on some thyme tea. Or add some thyme to soup for a throat-soothing treatment.
Try thyme for its terrific taste. But let the unexpected health benefits of thyme keep you coming back time and time again.