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Overview

Thyme is a delicate looking herb with a penetrating fragrance, thyme is a wonderful addition to bean, egg and vegetable dishes.

Both fresh and dried thyme is available in your local supermarket throughout the year.

Thyme leaves are curled, elliptically-shaped and very small, measuring about one-eighth of an inch long and one-sixteenth of an inch wide. The upper leaf is green-grey in colour on top, while the underside is a whitish colour.

Along with fresh sprigs of parsley and bay leaves, thyme is included in the French combination of herbs called bouquet garni used to season stock, stews and soups.

History

Thyme has been used since ancient times for its culinary, aromatic and medicinal properties.

The ancient Egyptians used it as an embalming agent to preserve their deceased pharoahs. In ancient Greece, thyme was widely used for its aromatic qualities, being burned as incense in sacred temples.

Thyme was also a symbol of courage and admiration with the phrase “the smell of thyme” being a saying that reflected praise unto its subject. Thyme’s association with bravery continued throughout medieval times when it was a ritual for women to give their knights a scarf that had a sprig of thyme placed over an embroidered bee.

Since the 16th century, thyme oil has been used for its antiseptic properties, both as mouthwash and a topical application.

Thyme is native to areas such as Asia, southern Europe and the Mediterranean region and is also cultivated in North America.

Benefits

Thyme has a long history of use in natural medicine in connection with chest and respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis and chest congestion.

Only recently, however, have researchers pin-pointed some of the components in thyme that bring about its healing effects. The volatile oil components of thyme are now known to include carvacolo, borneol, geraniol, but most importantly, thymol.

Thyme also contains a variety of flavonoids, including apigenin, naringenin, luteolin and thymonin. These flavonoids increase thyme’s antioxidant capacity and combined with its status as a very good source of manganese, give thyme a high standing on the list of antioxidant foods.

Nutritional Profile

The range of other health-supportive nutrients found in thyme is also impressive.

This food emerged from our food ranking system as an excellent source of iron and manganese, a very good source of calcium and a food source of dietary fibre.

Disclaimer

The information provided is for educational purposes only and must not be taken or interpreted as a suggestion or as medical advise.

If you have any medical conditions, you should consult your health care professional.

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