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Four easy types of herbs to grow in Ireland – and why they’re good for you

Throughout history, herbs were used by ancient civilisations such as the Sumerians, the Egyptians and the Greeks, dating as far back as 5000 BC. Herbs are just as delicious and beneficial today as they were when they were first discovered. And if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Here are four herbs you can grow at home in Ireland, what benefits they offer, and how to cook with them…   

1. Mint has been used for thousands of years as a method of relief for stomach discomfort. And why? Well, it speeds up bile production in the liver, which aids digestion. Peppermint tea can relieve bloating and peppermint oil capsules are a method of aiding discomfort associated with conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

How to cook with it  Aside from a sprig of it on top of desserts, there are plenty of uses for mint in the kitchen. Try adding it the next time you’re cooking peas to add depth of flavour. Minted peas are ideal cold as a side salad too.

2. Rosemary is a robust and fragrant evergreen herb. It’s said to improve memory and blood circulation. It’s also full of antioxidants, which play their part in neutralising free radicals in the body that can damage cells and cause elements such as protein not to work as they should.

How to cook with it  Rosemary is ideal to add to dishes that involve chicken, lamb and potatoes. If you’re making your own focaccia at home, it can also be delicious to add some rosemary and rock salt as a topping too.

3. Thyme is a good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. These can help boost your immune system, so pick up some thyme if you feel a cold coming on.

How to cook with it  Thyme is an aromatic kitchen staple. It complements most meats and its robust constitution means it can withstand longer cooking times, making it ideal for flavouring stews and soups.   

4. Sage can improve both short-term and long-term cognitive performance, according to studies. In the short-term, it acts much like the caffeine present in coffee and tea. In the long-term, it helps to prevent conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

How to cook with it  A little goes a long way when it comes to cooking with sage due to its strong flavour. Try it with meat, or stir it chopped into robust pasta dishes.

Want more food for thought? Check out some of our other articles on the Vhi Health Hub.