Health Benefits of Sage

health-benefits-of-sage

The soft, yet sweet savory flavor of sage along with its wonderful health-promoting properties is held in such high esteem that the International Herb Association awarded sage the title of “Herb of the Year” in 2001! Fresh, dried whole or powdered, sage is available throughout the year.

Sage leaves are grayish green in color with a silvery bloom covering. They are lance-shaped and feature prominent veins running throughout. Sage has been held in high regard throughout history both for it culinary and medicinal properties. Its reputation as a panacea is even represented in its scientific name, Salvia officinalis, derived from the Latin word, salvere, which means “to be saved.”

Nutrients in
Sage
2.00 tsp (1.40 grams)
Nutrient%Daily Value


 vitamin K30%


Calories (4)0%


This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Sage provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Sage can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Sage, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

  • Health Benefits
  • Description
  • History
  • How to Select and Store
  • Tips for Preparing and Cooking
  • How to Enjoy
  • Individual Concerns
  • Nutritional Profile
  • References

Health Benefits

Like rosemary, its sister herb in the mint (Labitae) family, sage contains a variety of volatile oils, flavonoids (including apigenin, diosmetin, and luteolin), and phenolic acids, including the phenolic acid named after rosemary—rosmarinic acid.

Anti-Oxidant/Anti-Inflammatory Actions

Rosmarinic acid can be readily absorbed from the GI tract, and once inside the body, acts to reduce inflammatory responses by altering the concentrations of inflammatory messaging molecules (like leukotriene B4). The rosmarinic acid in sage and rosemary also functions as an antioxidant. The leaves and stems of the sage plant also contain antioxidant enzymes, including SOD (superoxide dismutase) and peroxidase. When combined, these three components of sage—flavonoids, phenolic acids, and oxygen-handling enzymes—give it a unique capacity for stabilizing oxygen-related metabolism and preventing oxygen-based damage to the cells. Increased intake of sage as a seasoning in food is recommended for persons with inflammatory conditions (like rheumatoid arthritis),as well as bronchial asthma, and atherosclerosis. The ability of sage to protect oils from oxidation has also led some companies to experiment with sage as a natural antioxidant additive to cooking oils that can extend shelf life and help avoid rancidity.

Better Brain Function

Want some sage advice? Boost your wisdom quotient by liberally adding sage to your favorite soups, stews and casserole recipes. Research published in the June 2003 issue of Pharmacological Biochemical Behavior confirms what herbalists have long known: sage is an outstanding memory enhancer. In this placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study, two trials were conducted using a total of 45 young adult volunteers. Participants were given either placebo or a standardized essential oil extract of sage in doses ranging from 50 to 150 microls. Cognitive tests were then conducted 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 hours afterwards. In both trials, even the 50 microl dose of sage significantly improved subjects’ immediate recall.

In other research presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Harrogate (September 15-17, 2003), Professor Peter Houghton from King’s College provided data showing that the dried root of Salvia miltiorrhiza, also known as Danshen or Chinese sage, contains active compounds similar to those developed into modern drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s Disease. Sage has been used in the treatment of cerebrovascular disease for over one thousand years.Four compounds isolated from an extract from the root of Chinese sage were found to be acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors. The memory loss characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease is accompanied by an increase of AChE activity that leads to its depletion from both cholinergic and noncholinergic neurons of the brain. Amyloid beta-protein (A beta), the major component of amyloid plaques which form in the brain in Alzeeimer’s disease, acts on the expression of AChE, and AChE activity is increased around amyloid plaques. By inhibiting this increase in AChE activity, sage provides a useful therapeutic option to the use of pharmaceutical AChE inhibitors. (October 24, 2003)

Description

You’d be a wise sage to add the herb sage to your recipes. Not only does it have a soft, yet sweet savory flavor, but for millennia, it has also been prized for its health-promoting qualities. Its reputation as a panacea is even represented in its scientific name, Salvia officinalis, derived from the Latin word, salvere, which means “to be saved.”

Sage leaves are grayish green in color with a silvery bloom covering. They are lance-shaped and feature prominent veins running throughout. Sage is available fresh or dried in either whole, rubbed (lightly ground) or powder form.

History

Sage is native to countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and has been consumed in these regions for thousands of years. In medicinal lore, sage has one of the longest histories of use of any medicinal herb.

The Greeks and Romans were said to have highly prized the many healing properties of sage. The Romans treated it as sacred and created a special ceremony for gathering sage. Both civilizations used it as a preservative for meat, a tradition that continued until the beginning of refrigeration. What these cultures knew from experience, that sage could help to reduce spoilage, is now being confirmed by science, which has isolated the herb’s numerous terpene antioxidants.

Sage’s legendary status continued throughout history. Arab physicians in the 10th century believed that it promoted immortality, while 14th century Europeans used it to protect themselves from witchcraft. Sage was in so much demand in China during the 17th century, appreciated for the delicious tea beverage that it makes, that the Chinese are said to have traded three cases of tea leaves (camellia sinensis) to the Dutch for one case of sage leaves.

And the esteem with which sage is regarded has not faded. In 2001, the International Herb Association awarded sage the title of “Herb of the Year.”

How to Select and Store

Whenever possible, choose fresh sage over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. The leaves of fresh sage should look fresh and be a vibrant green-gray in color. They should be free from darks spots or yellowing.

Even through dried herbs and spices like sage are widely available in supermarkets, you may want to explore the local spice stores in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness compared to those offered in regular markets. Just like with other dried spices, when purchasing dried sage, try to select organically grown sage since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated (among other potential adverse effects, irradiating sage may lead to a significant decrease in its vitamin C and carotenoid content.)

To store fresh sage leaves, carefully wrap them in a damp paper towel and place inside a loosely closed plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator where it should keep fresh for several days. Dried sage should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months.

Tips for Preparing and Cooking

Tips for Preparing Sage

Since the flavor of sage is very delicate, it is best to add the herb near the end of the cooking process so that it will retain its maximum essence.

How to Enjoy

A Few Quick Serving Ideas
  • Mix cooked navy beans with olive oil, sage and garlic and serve on bruschetta.
  • Use sage as a seasoning for tomato sauce.
  • Add fresh sage to omelets and frittatas.
  • Sprinkle some sage on top of your next slice of pizza.
  • Combine sage leaves, bell peppers, cucumbers and sweet onions with plain yogurt for an easy to prepare, refreshing salad.
  • When baking chicken or fish in parchment paper, place some fresh sage leaves inside so that the food will absorb the flavors of this wonderful herb.

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

Individual Concerns

Sage is not a commonly allergenic food and is not known to contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines.

Nutritional Profile

Sage contains a variety of volatile oils, flavonoids (including apigenin, diosmetin, and luteolin), and phenolic acids, including the phenolic acid named after rosemary—rosmarinic acid. It is also an excellent source of vitamin K.

For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Sage.

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Sage is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn’t contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food’s in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients – not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good – please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you’ll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.” Read more background information and details of our rating system.

Sage
2.00 tsp
1.40 grams
4.41 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
vitamin K 24.00 mcg 30.0 122.4 excellent
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%
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