Scientifically known as Anethum Graveolens, dill has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. Both the seeds and the leaves can be used. Apart from giving a strong, tangy, appetizing flavor and taste, dill has many medicinal properties, which mainly come from certain compounds called Monoterpenes, as well as flavonoids, minerals and certain amino acids.
Dill can be a perennial or annual herb, depending on where it is cultivated in the world. This herb is used in almost every continent on the planet in some capacity, and although it is called many different things, it serves similar purposes in much of the world cuisine. It can be used dry as a topping for a number of meals, but it is also used as an ingredient in many meals. For those herbalists that want to grow their own dill, it is important to cultivate this herb in warm to hot summers, with plenty of sunshine.
Nutritional Facts of Dill
The health benefits of dill are derived from its organic compounds, vitamins, and minerals. These include powerful monoterpenes like limonene, carvone, and anethofuran, as well as flavonoids like vicenin and kaempferol. As for vitamins and minerals, dill has a significant amount of vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as trace amounts of folate, iron, and manganese.
Let’s explore these potential health benefits of dill in greater detail below.
Health Benefits of Dill
Digestion: Dill itself is an appetizer and therefore extensively used in culinary applications. The essential oils present in dill are stimulating and they activate the secretion of bile and digestive juices. These oils also stimulate peristaltic motion of the intestine, easing the passage of bowel movements and relieving constipation.
Insomnia: The essential oils found in herbs have peculiar and powerful properties. They are simultaneously stimulating, sedative, and hypnotic, that is, they stimulate as well as pacify. The essential oils in dill are no exception. The flavonoids and vitamin-B complex present in its essential oils, since they are stimulating in nature, activate the secretion of certain enzymes and hormones which have calming and hypnotic effects, thereby helping people get a good night’s sleep.
Bone Health: The calcium content of dill means that it is an important element in protecting you from bone loss and the loss of bone mineral density. Osteoporosis affects millions of people each year, and calcium, along with other essential minerals, are a key component in the proper growth and development of bones, and the repair of injured bones as well.
Diabetes: Dill has long been associated with diabetes and the management of insulin levels. Despite the fact that research is somewhat limited in this area, particularly on human subjects, studies have indicated that they can help reduce the fluctuations of serum lipids and insulin levels in corticosteroid-induced diabetes.
Excess Gas: As a well-known carminative, dill can help prevent the embarrassing condition of excessive gas. It is not only an uncomfortable condition to experience in public, but if gas continues to build up, it can actually be a dangerous situation where it presses on the delicate organs of the chest cavity. A carminative forces gas downward through the digestive tract, and allows it to leave the body in a safe way.
Arthritis: Dill has long been known as an anti-inflammatory herb, meaning that it helps to reduce the inflammation and the associated pain of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and arthritis. Dill has been used since ancient times for precisely this reason.
Immune System: Dill has long been associate with antimicrobial activity, and it has been shown to prevent a number of microbial infections throughout the body, both those in various organs and those potential infections that land in wounds or small cuts on the skin.
Hiccups: Hiccups occur for various reasons, but primarily, they occur due to trapped gas and repeated upward movement of gases through the food pipe. The second cause is due to certain allergies, hypersensitivity, hyperactivity and nervous malfunctioning. Dill can actually help in all of these situations. As a carminative, dill helps the expulsion of gases and also reduces gas formation while as a sedative, dill helps to calm down hiccups due to allergies, hyperactivity, or nervous disorders.
Diarrhea: Diarrhea is mainly caused by two thing, indigestion and microbial action. In terms of indigestion, dill can be quite helpful, as it has very good digestive properties. Secondly, dill can help due to the monoterpenes and flavonoids present in its essential oils, which are germicidal or bactericidal in nature. They can help cure diarrhea by inhibiting microbial infections that try to attack the body.
Dysentery: Dysentery is primarily caused due to fungal infections. For this condition as well, dill can help, since its essential oils are disinfectant in nature and help to inhibit fungal infections effectively.
Menstrual Disorders: The flavonoids in the essential oil of dill are stimulating and Emenagogic in nature, which means that they stimulate the secretion of certain hormones that help maintain proper menstrual cycles in women.
Respiratory Disorders: Kaempferol and certain other components of flavonoids and monoterpenes in the essential oils of dill are anticongestive and antihistaminic in nature and help clear congestion in the respiratory system due to histamine, allergies or coughs.
Oral Care: Dill seeds and leaves are very good mouth and breath fresheners. Apart from that, the essential oils in it are germicidal, antioxidant and disinfectant in nature. Due to these properties, they help end microbial infections in the mouth and their antioxidants minimize the damage caused to gums and teeth by free radicals.
Cancer: Let’s turn our attention to these monoterpense we’ve been talking about. Monoterpenes are chemopreventive, and since they are stimulating by nature, they activate the secretion of an enzyme called glutathione-S-transferase (the radical glutathione is an effective antioxidant) which is very effective in neutralizing carcinogens. It is particularly effective at neutralizing Cyano- and Benzo- derivatives and free radicals, thereby protecting the body from cancer. The other antioxidants in the essential oils of dill also contribute to this cancer protection that people enjoy from adding dill to their diet.
Other Benefits: Dill is a relaxant, increases strength, and increases urination to help in the removal of toxins, excess salts, and water from the body. Furthermore, it is a carminative (helps remove excess gas), antispasmodic (prevents cramps), and an antiflatulent substance. It stimulates lactation (galactagogue) and endocrinal secretions, enhances the libido due to the presence of Arginine and last but not the least, it ensures bone and dental health since it is a good source of calcium.
Cooking With Dill
The feathery leaves of the herb, dill, are commonly added to pickles, seafood and fish sauces. Dill can also be added to casseroles, soups, stews, cooked vegetables and salads. It has a similar taste to anise. An 8 gram serving of this green herb contains 14 percent of your daily needs of vitamin A, and 12 of vitamin C — all this with almost no calories. Keep fresh dill in the refrigerator for up to three days and add it to your cooking for a nutritious and flavorful punch.
Wash fresh dill leaves well in water, or use a solution of three parts water to one part white vinegar. If using the solution, spray onto the leaves and gently rinse off with water.
Chop fresh dill into small, 2-centimeter pieces. Chopping the fresh herb into fine pieces gives you a subtle hint of flavor in the food.
Combine chopped fresh dill into casseroles and fish cakes before baking. This allows the dill to meld with the other flavors in the food as it cooks.
Sprinkle fresh dill on stews and soups just as you are finished cooking to allow the heat from the food to wilt it slightly. This prevents the dill from becoming overcooked and losing flavor. Adding fresh dill to hot food flavors it subtly without losing its fresh, crisp taste.