Exposing children to a variety of culinary herbs at school can help improve nutrition. In our school garden, we emphasize the use of herbs as a seasoning substitute for unhealthy amounts of sugar and salt (and as a natural bug repellant). But taste is only part of the herb story. Most herbs are leafy greens and provide significant nutrients. For example, a two tablespoon serving of basil gives you 60% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin K, and about 6% of the iron and calcium you need — all with very few calories. Basil is also a source of vitamin A, fiber, manganese, tryptophan, B6, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium. The basil story gets even better: it protects DNA, and has antibacterial qualities strong enough that scientists are studying the use of basil essential oils as a food wash and preservative. “But wait, there’s more!”: it also has anti-inflamatory effects, operating on the same enzyme as NSAIDS. Bring on the pesto!
The World’s Healthiest Foods is a great resource for the science behind healthy foods.