Starting a meal with salad is smart, but enhancing it with fresh herbs is even smarter. "We tend to view them as a garnish, but they're also a great source of antioxidants," says Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman's Diet (McGraw-Hill). Compared with certain fruits and veggies, some herbs have more than 10 times the amount of these cancer- and heart-disease-fighting compounds, according to recent studies. "Consider fresh herbs a grocery-cart staple, just like lettuce or baby carrots," she says.
Using herbs in dishes already loaded with antioxidants can result in a powerful synergy, reveals a recent report in the British Journal of Nutrition. Including marjoram in a salad with antioxidant-rich tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, and wine vinegar increases the total antioxidant content by about 200 percent; including lemon balm boosts it 150 percent. And you don't need a ton--a few sprigs with most meals is plenty. To get your daily dose, mix mint into your morning smoothie or tuck basil into a sandwich.
The Top Disease Fighters
Best in poultry dishes, soup, and fish, it may even prevent colon and skin cancer.
Add zip to omelettes, beef, and pasta with this savory immune-system booster.
Try this anti-inflammatory agent in stuffing and salad dressings or over veggies.
Packed with vitamin C, this staple is a natural in salads, dips, and fish dishes.