The Surprising Link Between Fresh Herbs And Increased Inflammation

by Natalie Kiser

As it turns out, fresher isn’t always better.

May 7, 2022 | 7:15 a.m. CDT

(Mironov Vladimir/

Just about every recipe that I love calls for fresh herbs instead of dried ones. But my grocery budget—and the amount of scratch cooking I do on a weekly basis—is better suited for dried herbs.

Dried herbs are significantly cheaper and last much longer compared to the fresh variety. But is this substitution causing health problems? According to scientific research, you might be surprised by the answer.

A Look At The Science

According to a University of Oslo study, swapping out fresh herbs for dried herbs can help reduce inflammation. Fresh herbs and spices might be best for flavor, but their anti-inflammatory properties are lacking compared to their dried counterparts.

Fresh herbs and their dried counterparts. Studies show dried herbs are better for curbing inflammation. (Gts/

Dried herbs have been found to have much higher antioxidant levels than their fresh counterparts due to the decreased water content. While dried herbs suffer some antioxidant degradation during processing, they still have much higher antioxidant activity than fresh herbs.

The Connection Between Food And Inflammation

Inflammation is a process where your body’s white blood cells protect you from body invaders like bacteria and viruses. However, some diseases will trigger inflammation when there are no invaders to fight off. This will cause your immune system to act like regular tissues are infected, which can cause significant damage to your body.

While factors such as stress and environmental toxins can play into making inflammation worse, our diet can have a huge impact as well. Some of the biggest culprits to restrict include:

  • Refined grains and foods such as cookies and white bread.
  • Saturated and trans fats, which are commonly found in meat and dairy products.
  • Grilled or charred food, especially meat.

Following an anti-inflammatory diet can help to reduce symptoms and even protect from future disease. Additionally, being aware of the inflammatory properties present in everything from cooking oils to alcohol can also assist in feeling your best.

The Proper Ratios Between Fresh And Dried Herbs

Consider swapping out your fresh herbs for dried ones when cooking to reduce inflammation. In almost every case, dried herbs are more potent than fresh. Therefore, you will need less of the powdered version.

Kitchen queen Martha Stewart recommends using one unit of dry spice or herbs for every three units of fresh. Certain spices and herbs can be extremely expensive. Swapping fresh for dried herbs is affordable, reliable, and less demanding than growing fresh herbs yourself.

Fresh herbs vs. dry herbs ratio (Kirill Gorshkov/

Dried herbs are teeming with antioxidant plant compounds known as polyphenols. For this reason, nutrition and weight loss experts recommend using as many dried herbs and spices as you can in every meal.

Fresh herbs might sound fancier, but ultimately, they may be more trouble than they’re worth. Making the switch to dried herbs saves money, enhances your dishes’ flavor, and improves inflammatory symptoms—a win, win, win.

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