Pizza: A Herbal Profile

Pizza is a favourite food around the world, but it’s seldom looked upon as a health food. However – if you can look past the fats and carbohydrates – pizza incorporates a variety of natural, even medicinal herbs.


Let’s take a look at some of them below:


Oregano features prominently in a lot of Mediterranean cuisine. It has an unmistakable fragrance, and it’s one of the key ingredients in any pizza sauce. It’s lightly sweet, a little bit spicy and has just a hint of bitterness behind it. This is an easy herb to grow at home, as it’s compatible with most European and North American climate zones. Here’s a home-growing guide for Oregano to get you started.

Health benefits of oregano:

· Antifungal

· Antibacterial

· Beta-caryophyllin (anti-inflamatory)

· Carnosol (potential cancer-fighting agent)


There’s nothing quite like sweet, delicate basil. It has an unmistakable fragrance, and it elevates the flavour of pizza sauce significantly – especially if freshly picked. Some varieties hint at the taste of anise, and are therefore even more reminiscent of Middle Eastern fare. Basil’s incredibly easy to grow in your own herb garden.

Health benefits of basil:

· Rich in vitamin K

· Antibacterial

· Protects cells and DNA structure

· Vitamin A (boosts cardiovascular health)

· Lightly anti-inflamatory


Garlic is certainly a healthy food. In fact, it was awarded ‘Herb of the Year’ by the International Herb Association back in 2004. Garlic makes an excellent complement to pizza. As with oregano, it features commonly in Mediterranean cuisine, and you’ll also find it in a range of Middle Eastern sauces – particularly shawarma. In fact, if you order pizza delivery in Abu Dhabi or a similarly prosperous city, chicken shawarma is likely to be one of the toppings offered. While it’s not a common topping, braised or roasted garlic cloves make a great topping for pizza as well.

Health benefits of garlic:

· Regulates blood pressure by boosting insulin

· Potential to fight multiple types of cancer

· Vitamin C

· Helps unborn babies gain weight

· Rich in iodine

· Vitamin B6 (strengthens the immune system)


Here’s an insanely popular crossover herb that’s found abundantly in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare (Can anyone say tabbouli?) – along with a host of other culinary traditions. It has a light and fresh flavour, and it blends well into a range of sauces, pizza sauce not excluded.

Health benefits of parsley:

· Myristicin (volatile oil that inhibits tumour growth)

· Luteolin (antioxidant)

· Beta-carotene (reduces risk of colon cancer and diabetes)

· Folic acid (promotes cardiovascular health)


Sage is one of those herbs that is so healthy and popular, that it’s often attributed quasi-supernatural powers as well. We’re not going to claim that there’s anything mystical about sage. However, it’s certainly a deliciously sweet herb that’s unmistakably aromatic and highly versatile.

· Health benefits of sage:

· May stave off or partially subdue dementia

· Anti-inflammatory properties

· Improves symptoms of type II diabetes

· Boosts memory


You can hardly mention sage without mentioning rosemary. For starters, who can forget ‘Scarborough Fair’? Come to think of it, we’ve already mentioned parsley, and we’ll be getting to thyme next. Regardless, rosemary’s healthy qualities are similar to those of sage.

Health benefits of rosemary:

· Enhances memory

· Protects neural pathways

· Helps prevent brain ageing

· Anti-inflammatory


Delicious, healthy – even ornamental. Thyme has as many uses in the kitchen as it does out. It has a subtly dry aroma, and is almost minty in character. The famous Middle Eastern herb, za’atar, is a close relative of thyme. Of course, it’s also a staple in pizza sauces.

Here are the health benefits of Thyme:

· Thymol (protects cells by increasing healthy fats)

· Antioxidant qualities

· Antibacterial

· Antifungal

· Cornucopia of vitamins

Assuming you go easy on the high-cholesterol cheeses, pizza could end up being a health food after all!


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