Fruits and vegetables often come easily to mind when discussing the world's healthiest foods. The high vitamin and mineral content and the incredible health benefits associated with consuming fruits and vegetables cannot be denied.
But do not forget about fresh herbs and spices, which can have extremely high antioxidant capacities and pack major flavor into a meal while cutting down on sodium intake.
Sage is a herb native to the Mediterranean, belonging to the Lamiaceae (mint) family along with oregano, lavender, rosemary, thyme and basil. The sage plant has gray-green edible leaves and flowers that can range in color from blue and purple to white or pink. Sage has a long history of medicinal use for ailments ranging from mental disorders to gastrointestinal discomfort.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional profile of sage, an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more sage into your diet and any potential health risks of consuming sage.
Possible health benefits of consuming sage
Due to its high antioxidant capacity, sage can help protect the body's cells from damage caused by free radicals, which often results in cell death, impaired immunity, and chronic disease.
Sage belongs to the Lamiaceae (mint) family along with oregano, lavender, rosemary, thyme and basil.
1) Possible Alzheimer's treatment
In a study of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, participants were given either sage extract or a placebo for 4 months. Those given the sage extract showed an improvement in cognition as well as less agitation compared to the placebo group. Other studies have shown that sage can improve memory in young, healthy adults as well.
2) Lowering blood glucose and cholesterol
In a study published in Complimentary Theories in Medicine, 40 patients with diabetes and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) were given sage leaf extract for 3 months. At the end of the trial, the participants had lower fasting glucose, HbA1c, total cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL (the bad cholesterol levels), but high HDL (good cholesterol).
Many herbs and spices like sage also have anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antimicrobial effects.
Nutritional profile of sage
Since it is often consumed in such small amounts, sage does not provide significant amounts of calories, carbohydrate, protein or fiber. However, sage does contain numerous anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds beneficial to health.
How to incorporate more sage into your diet
Sage can be eaten fresh or dried (whole or ground). Adding sage to a dish is a great way to enhance flavor without adding extra calories or sodium.
Sage pairs well with pork and can be served with apple and a pork chop for a delicious meal.
Sage often pairs well with poultry and pork.
Because of its pleasant aroma, sage is often used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics. Sage extracts and herbal sage supplements are also available.
Try some of these healthy and delicious recipes developed by Registered Dietitians using sage:Sausage and apple stuffing bites
Pumpkin sage dumplings
Broccoli and sage risotto
Apple and sage pork chops
Sweet potato & kale Mac N' Cheese with sage breadcrumbs.
Potential health risks of consuming sage
Natural sage is safe for most people and causes little to no known side effects. The effectiveness and side effects from sage supplements will vary by brand and formulation.
It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.
If you enjoyed reading about the potential health benefits of sage, take a look at our collection of articles about other fruits, vegetables and herbs.