Known for its health benefits since ancient times, dill or Anethum graveolens is a plant commonly used in different cuisines around the world. It is easily recognized by its height ranging from 12 to 18 inches, a thin stem, soft leaves, and flat, oval-shaped brown seeds.
Despite the sweet taste of its leaves, the seeds are characterized by having a bitter taste and being used to flavor vinegars and dishes. It is also used to prepare herbal remedies to alleviate various digestive problems as well as colic.
Health Benefits of Dill
Dill contains vitamins and minerals considered essential for the body. In addition, it provides few calories. For these reasons, alternative medicine regularly includes it within its natural remedies.
1. Antioxidant Properties
The seeds and leaves of dill are a source of various nutrients that stand out for having proven antioxidant properties. Among them you can find:
- Terpenoids or isoprenoids: aromatic compounds of plant origin that would combat some conditions of the brain, liver, heart and kidneys.
- Flavonoids: A series of secondary metabolites that are linked to a reduction in the risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers, as well as improving brain health.
- Tannins: phenolic compounds that, according to scientific evidence, have antioxidant and antimicrobial effects.
- Vitamin C: a known and proven source of antioxidants.
Likewise, it is imperative to remember that an antioxidant is a chemical compound responsible for protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals.
According to studies published in the Journal of Biomedical Science and Antioxidants, the intake of foods rich in this substance would be able to reduce chronic inflammation and minimize the risk of developing heart diseases, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis and some types of cancer.
2. Improves the heart health
An investigation published in Clinical Nutrition ESPEN, showed that the flavonoids present in dill would be related to an improvement in heart health.
In addition, a study in animals suggested that the extract of this plant would be able to reduce the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, factors that would increase the probability of suffering from heart disease and stroke, among others.
Regarding human studies, an investigation in 91 people with high levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides showed that taking 6 tablets of dill extract per day for 2 months could control the levels significantly. However, it would have no effect on good or HDL cholesterol.
For its part, another study in 150 people with the same characteristics found that there were no changes in cholesterol and triglyceride levels after ingesting dill tablets daily for 6 weeks.
Given these results, it is estimated that dill extracts could support heart health. However, more studies in humans are still warranted to certify its effectiveness in regulating substances such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
3. Lowers blood sugar levels
It has been shown that having high blood sugar levels can trigger chronic diseases including insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus, among others.
Fortunately, there is scientific evidence that dill would be able to act as a hypoglycemic agent; that is, a special medicine to lower blood glucose levels.
According to a study in animals with diabetes, taking a daily dose of dill extract on an empty stomach could positively affect blood sugar levels. However, conclusive human research is needed.
4. Anti-cancer properties
Dill essential oil contains monoterpenes. These essential components of flowers are linked to terpenes and, according to a study published in the Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae Experimentalis, they would have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal and anticancer properties.
D-limonene, specifically, is a monoterpene that could prevent lung, breast and colon cancer. However, despite the high concentration of this substance in dill, more research is required to certify its effectiveness in preventing this disease.
5. Strengthens the immune system
Dill contains 4% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin A, which would not only allow for a healthy immune system but could also contribute to improving vision and the condition of the skin.
It also provides 8% of the RDI of vitamin C, known to stimulate the immune system, the formation of bone tissue and metabolism.
6. Relieves menstrual cramps
According to different studies published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, dill is composed of essential oils that could soothe the pains and cramps that appear during the period. However, more research is needed.
On the other hand, an animal study showed that dill extract would be able to increase the duration of the estrous cycle and the concentration of progesterone. However, more research in humans is still required.
Main Uses of Dill
The most widespread use of dill is in the kitchen. Such is its impact that it is even considered an essential ingredient in European and Asian gastronomy.
In general, it is often added fresh to meals, whether in a salad, in baked bread, in sauces, in marinades and in dressings. However, it can also be used dry to flavor sauces, potato, chicken and tuna salads.
The seeds are not set aside. They are used whole or crushed to be added to breads, soups or other vegetable dishes. Also, if you heard about the cucumber pickles dill, it is because the seeds are added to this preparation.
As for its medicinal uses, it stands out that Ayurveda or traditional Indian medicine uses it as a carminative; in other words, to reduce the generation of gases in the digestive tract and, therefore, reduce flatulence and colic.
Although its consumption is safe, there are cases in which the intake of dill could trigger allergic reactions. The most common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, itchy mouth, swollen throat, and red bumps on the tongue.
On the other hand, the consumption of dill tablets or extracts is not recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as there is not enough research on their possible effects.
What to remember about the benefits of dill?
Dill is an essential part of the cuisines of Europe and Asia, either because of the sweet taste of its leaves or the bitter taste and strong aroma of its seeds. It is common to find it in salads, breads, and pickles.
Also, the benefits of dill are not limited to cooking. This plant could help improve heart health, strengthen the immune system, and relieve period pain.
Now, although it is considered to be safe to consume, you should be careful with possible allergic reactions and avoid taking tablets or extracts during pregnancy and lactation.