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Savory herb nutrition facts

Delicate, pleasantly aromatic savory (summer) is a very popular culinary herb widely used in eastern European and American cuisines.  Botanically, this annual herb belongs to the mint family of Lamiaceae and known scientifically as Satureja hortensis.  Its sister variety, winter-savory, known as Satureja montana, has pungent taste and therefore, less preferred for cooking purposes.

The herb is well tolerant to different climatic conditions and requires good sunlight to flourish. It reaches about 40-60 cm in height.

The plant bears dark green colored smooth leaves and small purple color flowers. Winter savory has similar growth characters; but features more branching, hard and woody stems.

Several wild cultivars exist apart from the garden savory. Satureja douglasii, or yerba buena is also used in california and alaskan region as a herbal tea. Satureja thymbra, is another wild variety grows in some Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries and is known for its high carvacrol or thymol content.

Health benefits of Savory

  • Savory leaves and tender shoots contain incredibly high quality chemical compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.  In addition, dietary fiber in this herb helps reduce LDL or bad cholesterol while increasing HDL or good cholesterol levels.

  • Savory leaves contain many essential volatile oils phenols such as thymol and carvacrol, as well as linalool, camphene, caryophyllene, terpineol, myrcene, and other terpenoids.

  • Thymol, one of the important essential oils, has scientificaly been found to have antiseptic, anti-fungal characteristics.

  • In addition, another phenolic compound, carvacrol in savory inhibits the growth of several bacteria strains like E. coli and Bacillus cereus. Carvacol, therefore, has been used as food additive for its anti-bacterial properties and in addition, it gives pleasant tangy taste and marjoram like smell to the food.

  • Savory herb is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. Its leaves and tender shoots are one of the richest source of potasium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.

  • The herb is also a rich source of many important vitamins such as B-complex group vitamins, vitamin-A, vitamin-C, niacin, thiamin and pyridoxine.

  • Dry savory provides 1.810 mg of vitamin B-6 or pyridoxine; furnishing about 130% of RDA. Pyridoxine keeps up GABA (soothening neurotransmitter) levels in the brain which has stress buster function.

  • Vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.

  • Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin and antioxidant that is required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids like vitamin A, carotenes helps protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

Dry savory herb has amazingly high levels of vitamins and minerals. Just 100 g of ground dry herb provides (% of Recommended daily allowance)

120% of dietary fiber,
25% of Niacin,
130% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine),
83% of vitamin C,
177% of vitamin A,
474% of iron,
210% of calcium,
94% magnesium,of and
265% of manganese
but no cholesterol.

ee the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Savory (Satureja hortensis), Dry, ground,
Nutrient value per 100 g
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 272 Kcal 13.5%
Carbohydrates 68.73 g 53%
Protein 6.73 g 12%
Total Fat 5.91 g 30%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 45.7 g 120%

Niacin 4.080 mg 25.5%
Pyridoxine 1.810 mg 139%
Riboflavin 0.471 mg 36%
Thiamin 0.366 mg 30.5%
Vitamin A 5310 IU 177%
Vitamin C 50 mg 83%

Sodium 24 mg 1.5%
Potassium 1051 mg 22%

Calcium 2132 mg 210 %
Copper 0.847 mg 94%
Iron 37.88 mg 474%
Magnesium 377 mg 94 %
Manganese 6.100 mg 265%
Phosphorus 140 mg 20%
Selenium 4.6 mcg 8%
Zinc 4.30 mg 39%

Selection and storage

Both fresh and dried forms of savory herb are available in the market. Fresh leaves and stems are used for cooking during the season. However, to prepare dry savory, top six to eight inches of the herb sections cut just before or during the blooming season. Usually, cut shoots and leaves spread out on screens or paper sheet to dry.

Dried leaves should then stripped off from the stems,  stored in a tightly sealed glass container and kept in cool, dark and dry place where it will keep well  for many months.

Medicinal uses

  • Savory herb contains many important essential oils which are found to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal applications.

  • As in thyme, distilled tepid savory water is used for throat gargling to help relieve sore throat and bronchitis symptoms.

  • The constituents in this herb parts, especially the flowering shoots, has anti-septic, carminative (anti-flatulence), digestive (helps digestion), expectorant (help clear throat), stomachic and anti-rheumatic (relieves joint pain) functions.

Culinary uses

The leaves, fresh or dry, can be used while cooking. Savory parts have slight peppery and tangy taste with marjoram like flavor. This herb has very good blending qualities.

In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, savory herb is generally added at the last moment to cooking recipes.  This is because prolonged cooking may results in evaporation of its essential oils.

  • Fresh summer savory leaves are being used as a garnish in salads.

  • Savory herbal tea is a popular health drink.

  • The herb has also been used in the preparation of season soups, and sauces.

  • It also, along with other spicy items, used to marinate and additions in chicken, fish and meat recipes.

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