Rosemary boosts brain power

By Mina Rodman • Published: May 23rd, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Sniffing a savory snack can make you hungry, but with the right ingredient, it can also make you smarter, too.

According to a new study, a whiff of rosemary can increase cognitive function and mood. Researchers from Northumbria University say this occurs because a key component of the herb, called 1,8-cineole (sin-ee-OLE), is detected in the bloodstream as soon as a person breathes in rosemary’s aroma. This compound is thought to boost brain power by keeping a neurotransmitter associated with memory in good working order.

Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb commonly used in many Italian recipes and has long been credited with a variety of health benefits. For example, it’s been shown to help treat bronchitis and other forms of congestion. It can be used as a cat repellent and hair rinse, and, most importantly, it may help improve memory. It has also been found to improve the digestive system and may be an anticarcinogen.

The new study provides the first biochemical explanation for some of these healthy effects.

Although it’s unknown whether eating rosemary will yield the same benefits as smelling it, adding rosemary to your dishes is an easy way to flood your house with the herb’s fragrance.

Try a chickpea and rosemary soup, a simple, Italian recipe that takes a half-hour to make and calls for only eight ingredients: olive oil, garlic, rosemary leaves, red pepper, chick peas, chicken broth, lemon juice and sea salt.

Or mix up rosemary leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper with potatoes and bake them in the oven to make an easy rosemary-roasted potatoes side dish.

If you want an even easier way to incorporate rosemary into a meal, sprinkle it over chicken and bake it.

Using a little bit of rosemary can go a long way. After all, what’s the harm in something that smells good, tastes good and is good for you?