The Super Culinary Herbs: Highest in Vitamins, Minerals (and More)


Taking enough vitamins, potassium, iron, and all the other essential nutrients might be a struggle. Do you know that adding some herbs to your dishes might be an easy fix? Indeed, herbs are packed with good nutrients. However, some herbs are way more abundant in vitamins, iron, or potassium than others. Choose them wisely, and you will reach your daily intake of nutrients with no effort.

Hence, what herbs are the highest in nutrients? Here a list of nutrients and the fresh herb with the highest percentage on it.

  1. Iron: Thyme
  2. Zinc: Oregano
  3. Potassium: Dill
  4. Vitamin C: Thyme
  5. Copper: Thyme
  6. Calcium: Rosemary
  7. Fiber: Rosemary
  8. Magnesium: Oregano
  9. Phosphorus: Chervil
  10. Manganese: Thyme
  11. Protein: Thyme

Now you have the list. However, some of these herbs might not be available in your shops, or you might not like them. No worries, there are still other valuable herbs alternatives. In this article, I have studied the nutritional property of the following 11 herbs and summarised all the results for you.

  1. Thyme
  2. Chervil
  3. Dill
  4. Mint
  5. Chives
  6. Basil
  7. Parsley
  8. Rosemary
  9. Oregano
  10. Coriander
  11. Fennel

Moreover, how can you cook them? For this and more, let’s dive in!

Herb Highest In Magnesium and Zinc: Oregano

Oregano is the herb with the highest magnesium and zinc content. Oregano is also at the center of countless studies as this one analyzing its antioxidant abilities.

ZincMagnesium

Oregano

33.6%

67.5%

Zinc and Magnesium concentration for 100g of fresh oregano (% dailiy recommended intake)

Magnesium

One hundred grams of fresh oregano contains almost 70% of your daily magnesium intake. However, if you do not like oregano, you still have chances to get such minerals from other herbs.

What are the best herbs, after oregano, highest in magnesium?

Although not as high as oregano, thyme and rosemary are decent substitutes. Indeed, 100g of fresh thyme provides around 40% of your daily magnesium intake, so you might need to increase by 27% (127g against 100g) to match the amount of magnesium provided by oregano.

Oregano

67.5%

Thyme

40.0%

Rosemary

22.8%

Mangesium concentration for 100g of fresh herbs (% dailiy recommended intake)

Why is magnesium essential in your diet? Magnesium covers a large variety of roles in our bodies from keeping a healthy nerve and muscle system to boost your immune system to even affect your heartbeat. Hence, also if needed in minimal doses (half a gram), it still needs to be part of a healthy diet. As you can read from the US National Institute of Health, magnesium can also be found in a large variety of food such as almond, spinach, nuts, salmon, avocado, and many more.

Zinc

Oregano provides 34% of your daily zinc intake for each 100g. This is a very good amount. However, you might not like the strong taste of this herb. This is not a problem as there are valuable alternatives.

What are the best herbs highest in zinc after oregano?

Well, valid alternatives are thyme and chervil. Although they provide less zinc per 100g, they can still boost your daily intake if you manage to have some other zinc-rich food in your diet. You might need 100g of thyme to have 16% of the zinc your body needs. Hence, considering that it is unlikely to consume such an amount of herbs at once, you have an option to use them as dry. They generally have around 3 times more zinc than their fresh counterpart.

Oregano

33.6%

Thyme

16.0%

Chervil

12.5%

Zinc concentration for 100g of fresh herbs (% daily recommended intake)

Why is zinc essential? Zinc is responsible for maintaining a robust immune system as well in guaranteeing optimal tissue development and nutrients processing.

Herb Highest In Potassium: Dill

Dill and rosemary are the culinary herbs with the highest potassium content. Around 100g of these fresh herbs provide around a fifth (16%) of what your body requires. This means that you usually cannot (and you should not) have your iron intake only from herbs. You need other potassium-rich foods. Dill is found to provide a wide range of benefits beyond is proper potassium intake, such as blood pressure and sugar improvement, as discussed by HealthLine.

What if you do not like dill? Well, chervil was found to have practically the same concentration of potassium (read this National Institute of Health Guide for more). If not, chervil is just a few percentage points below dill for potassium content. Hence, plenty of options there.

Dill

16.0%

Rosemary

15.9%

Chervil (fresh)

14.3%

Potassium concentration for 100g of fresh herbs (% daily recommended intake)

Why is Potassium Important? Potassium is an essential element (a mineral to be precise) that guarantees the proper body fluid regulation, muscle, and nerves working.

Here something to remember

For many people, the problem is not the lack of potassium, but on the opposite, the excess. So, in this case, if this is your case. Use this guide to know which herbs you should avoid.

Herb Highest Calcium and Fiber: Rosemary

Rosemary was found to be the culinary herbs with the highest calcium and fiber content.

CalciumFiber

Rosemary (fresh)

31.7%

52.2%

Calcium and fiber cncentration for 100g of fresh rosemary (% daily recommended intake)

As this was not enough, many are the studies that investigated other benefits of rosemary such as antioxidants, digestion, memory, and more, as discussed here.

Calcium

Around 100g of fresh rosemary or thyme provides almost a third of your daily calcium intake (31.7%). However, rosemary has a very particular flavor, and some of you might not like it, or simply, they do not have rosemary around. However, the good news is that other herbs perform decently well in terms of calcium content.

What are the herbs highest in calcium after rosemary?

Thyme and oregano have calcium content very close to one of the rosemary. So, no excuses to not hit your calcium intake. Remember that, in case you are not lactose intolerant, all dairy products are a good source of calcium as well as soya beans and nuts for those of you vegetarian.

Rosemary

31.7%

Thyme

31.0%

Oregano

22.0%

Calcium concentration for 100g of fresh herbs (% daily recommended intake)

Why is calcium necessary? As discussed by NHS, calcium is really important in bones and teeth development as well as healthy muscle contractions.

Fiber

With 100 g of this fresh rosemary, you will have more than half of your required daily intake. However, rosemary might not always be available. In this case, alternatives are possible.

What are the herbs highest in fiber after rosemary?

In case you do not like rosemary, two other herbs notorious for their healthy fiber content are thyme and oregano. In particular, thyme, an extraordinary herb, has just a 2% lower fiber content than rosemary, so not a big difference.

Rosemary

52.2%

Thyme

50.0%

Oregano

32.6%

Fibers concentration for 100g of fresh herbs (% daily recommended intake)

Why are fibers important? Dietary fiber has an important role in improving the health of your digestive tract, making it easy to digest food. Besides, they contribute to reduce the fill of hunger, reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels

Herbs Highest in Phosphorus: Chervil

Chervil, among the culinary herbs, is the one with the highest phosphorus content. Around 100g of fresh chervil provides a fifth (18.6%) of what your body needs, source. Chervil, like many other herbs, has also shown to have antioxidant properties, essential to delay cell aging.

What are the herb highest in phosporus after chervil?

In case you do not like chervil, but you still want to use herbs to hit your phosphorus intake, my suggestion is to go for thyme or rosemary. Indeed, thyme has only 3% less of the phosphorus content of chervil.

Chervil

18.6%

Thyme

15.0%

Rosemary

9.4%

Phosphorus concentration for 100g of fresh herbs (% daily recommended intake)

Why is phosphorus essential? Although this mineral is not necessary for high quantities (around 1g), it contributes to many essential regulator functions in our bodies. Indeed, as stated by Oregon State University, this mineral is important in bone development, conversion of nutrients into energy.

Herb Highest in Manganese, Vitamin C, Copper, Iron, and Protein (at the same time!)

Thyme is the culinary herb with the highest content per 100g of manganese, vitamin C, copper, iron, and protein. This is a super herb with extremely high nutritional content (source) on top of being extremely tasty in a variety of dishes.

IronVitamin CCopperManganeseProtein
97%178%62%75%11%

For instance, only 100g of fresh thyme provides almost double your daily vitamin C intake (178%) and almost your daily intake of iron (97%) and manganese (75%). Many other herbs can be close to thyme for each individual mineral or nutrients. However, thyme is the best in many of them at the same time.

As this was not enough, studies discussed the benefits of this super herb as antioxidant (thanks to Thymol) to boost your immune system and slow aging.

Based on the results obtained, thyme, sage, and marjoram have potential use as natural antioxidants due to their significant antioxidant activity. – Source

Manganese

One hundred grams of fresh thyme can provide almost three quarters (75%) of your manganese intake. However, thyme might not be around, or simply you might not like its strong taste.

What are the herbs, after thyme, highest in manganese?

Dill and basil were found to be the best herbs, after thyme for manganese content. Indeed, dill has only 20% less manganese than thyme while basil only 25%. Hence, to keep the same amount of manganese with thyme, you have just to use 125g every 100g of thyme.

Thyme

75.0%

Dill

55.0%

Basil

50.0%

Manganese concentration for 100g of fresh herbs (% daily recommended intake)

Why is manganese important? Even though an average person just needs 1-2 mg a day, this important mineral covers different functions. Indeed, as detailed by the US National Institute of Health, manganese helps to regulate some important substances in our body (such as amino acid, cholesterol, glucose) as well promoting bone growth, maintenance, and helping the immune response

Vitamin C

One hundred grams of fresh thyme can provide almost twice your vitamin C need. However, you might not like thyme, or you might not have this herb available. Do you renounce to some natural vitamin C based source? Of course not!

What are the best herbs, after thyme, for vitamin C?

Parsley and dill were found to have a decent amount of vitamin C per 100g of the fresh herb. Indeed, parsley still provides 1.5 times of your daily intake while dill just above 90%. Hence, even with no thyme around, you do not have excuses to not reach your vitamin C intake naturally.

Thyme

178.0%

Parsley

148.0%

Dill

94.0%

Vitamin C concentration for 100g of fresh herbs (% of recommended intake)

Why is vitamin C important? As discussed by this study from the University of Malaysia, vitamin C has a vital role in fighting infectious diseases and against free radicals. Moreover, it is essential to improve the repairing of body tissues and maintain a healthy immune system and bones (and much more).

Copper

One hundred grams of fresh thyme can provide more than half of your daily intake of copper. However, thyme is not the only herb good in copper.

What are the best herbs, after thyme, highest in copper?

In this case, the famous basil (the same herb to do an amazing pesto). With just 20% less of vitamin C, basil is an easy alternative. Moreover, in my case, it is easier to eat basil than thyme as I can munch such tasty leaves even with a quick healthy snack of tomato, oil, salt, and pepper.

Thyme

62.0%

Basil

43.0%

Mint

27.0%

Copper concentration for 100g of fresh herb (% of recommended daily intake)

Why is copper important? Copper, differently from other elements, is something that we need in minimal doses (less than a milligram), and plants usually do not have lots of it. However, even such small amounts are essential for our metabolic processes and constant object of research.

Iron

One hundred grams of fresh thyme provides you almost all the iron your body needs. However, not everyone loves thyme. No problems. There are a few good alternatives in the herb world.

What are the best herbs, after thyme, highest in iron?

Valid alternatives are mint (spearmint as peppermint has a too strong flavour) and rosemary. Although they provide less iron per 100g, they can still boost your daily intake if you manage to have some other iron sources in your diet. Even 50g of mint, for instance, can provide a third of what your body needs!

Thyme

97.0%

Mint

66.0%

Rosemary

47.5%

Iron concentration for 100g of fresh herb (% of recommended daily intake)

Why is iron important? Iron is important in our diet to maintain a healthy blood circulation system by assuring that enough oxygen is delivered throughout all our bodies. Iron also contributes to energy production, justifying why iron deficiencies cause, among other problems, constant tiredness.

Protein

Indeed, 100g of fresh thyme provides a bit more than a tenth (11%) of the required protein intake. Given that herbs are not the best source of proteins, this should only be an addition to your normal protein daily intake. However, what if you do not like thyme, but you still want some extra plant-based source of protein.

What are the best herbs highest in protein after thyme?

Chervil and dill have just a few percentages points less of protein compared to thyme, so they are a great substitute. However, as stated before, as their concentration is below 10% (and they are vegetable-based protein), your diet must have multiple sources of proteins.

Thyme

11.0%

Chervil

7.1%

Dill

7.0%

Proteins concentration for 100g of fresh herb ((% of recommended daily intake)

Why are proteins important? Proteins, as even not specialists know, are extremely important in a healthy diet. Indeed, as stated by the US national library of medicine, are responsible for countless daily and vital processes. Some proteins can carry special chemicals, while others protect us from viruses and bacteria. In contrast, others carry important chemicals throughout the body. The list is really endless, and you definitely need several dozen grams a day (around 54g for a 140-pound male, as suggested by the Health Harvard School).

How to Eat More Herbs: Tips

By now, you know that some herbs can be your best allies to naturally integrate those nutrients you might need. However, eating those herbs might sound difficult. Hence, here my three tips:

  1. Buy herbs: when you go to the supermarket, do not be scared to buy one of those 25g packages of fresh herbs. If you are undecided, go for basil. Indeed, although not among those super herbs, it behaves pretty well and it is very easy to cook. Having those herbs in your fridge should push you to use them rather than waste!
  2. Growing your own herbs: that is what I am about. I want to grow my own herb in my small UK apartment to be independent of the supermarket. This will not only allow you to eat what you need when you want, but also your herbs will taste, chemical-free, and environmentally friendly. Also having them in front of you (kitchen) will make you want to use them!
  3. Find the recipes – YouTube: during weekends, just go to youtube and type “name of your herb recipes” ( for instance basil recipes). Many videos will appear, and you can start from them. Below you can find my best selection, but of course, you might want to look for yours!

Thyme

How can you eat more thyme? There are countless recipes! Here two more recipes (also check the Iron section for two more).

Thyme Based Soup (Vegetarian)

Onion Thyme Soup by Tarla Dalal

Crusty Salt Roasted Chicken

Salt-Roasted Chicken Recipe - Roast Chicken with Thyme Butter Sauce

Dill

How can you introduce dill in your diet? Hopefully, dill is an herb that is very easy to use in many recipes. Here my favorite vegetarian and not recipes.

Light Dill Soup (Vegetarian)

YELLOW PEA WITH DILL SOUP RECIPE!

Fragrant Baked Dill Salmon

Perfectly Baked Salmon Recipe with Lemon and Dill - How to Bake Salmon

Oregano

How can you introduce oregano in your diet? Countless are the recipes where oregano is used. Here you can find 2 of my favorite (as usual vegetarian and not version)

Easy Pasta With Oregano and Tomato Sauce (Vegetarian)

Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Oregano Recipe

One-Pan Oregano Chicken with Red Rice

One Pan Oregano Chicken with Red Rice in 30 Minutes

If you don’t fancy any of the above recipes, but you still want the benefits of the oregano, why not have it in a tea! The video below shows how to do it!

How to Make Oregano Tea : Tea Recipes & More

Rosemary

How can you eat more rosemary? That’s not difficult given a large number of recipes using this herb, a staple of Mediterranean cuisine. Check two among my favorite rosemary recipes.

Roasted vegetables (Vegetarian)

Rosemary-Roasted Root Vegetables Agrodolce

Roasted Rosemary & Garlic Potatoes Recipe

Roasted Rosemary & Garlic Potatoes Recipe - Laura Vitale "Laura In The Kitchen" Episode 26

Chervil

How to introduce chervil in your diet? Chervil is not as popular as culinary herbs as the others. However, you will not have difficulty in finding recipes that use such herb as the two below that, among the others, are my favorite.

Roast Salmon Avocado and Chervil

Roast Salmon, Avocado, Beetroot & Chervil | Kitchen Daddy

Mushroom Risotto (Vegetarian)

Pressure Cooker Mushroom Risotto

Here Another Secret Before You Go

If you want to really learn how to cook such culinary herbs, dive in this free 8 min course on youtube that provides some great tips from Jamie Oliver.

Basic Herbs Masterclass with Georgie

Making your Store Herbs Last Months

You decided to buy herbs at the supermarket, but you do not want to waste them! Well, this should not be a problem. There are many ways to keep your herbs fresh, even for months. Check the article below for the most simple and effective tricks.

Related Questions

What are the most common medicinal herbs? Among those herbs used for medicinal purposes, the most common are: chamomile, ginger, ginseng, Echinacea

What are the most common culinary herbs high in antioxidants? Rosemary, oregano, parsley and basil are the most commonly available herbs hight in antioxidant

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Andrea

A young Italian guy with a passion for growing edible herbs. After moving to the UK 6 years ago in a tiny flat, it was impossible to grow herbs outside. So I start my journey in growing indoor and so I decided to share my knowledge.

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