Chimichurri --- Top 8 Health
Benefits
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December 7, 2012

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist








Fancy a little chimichurri this evening? Tasty, tangy and
totally packed with nutrients, chimichurri is a fresh alternative
to commonly used sauces for barbecued and grilled meat.
Chimichurri originates from Argentina where it is used as the
perfect accompaniment for the traditional Argentine steak, as
well as a marinade and a sauce for grilled chicken, fish, and
sausages and an accompaniment to empanadas and pasta.
Skip the ketchup (loaded with sugar and with minimal
nutritional value) and spoon on the chimichurri instead – this
sauce is not only tasty but good for you too. But what health
benefits exactly does this sauce bring to the table? And
where does the name chimichurri come from?

What is the History of Chimichurri?

Although the sauce itself is native to Argentina, where it has
been used for centuries, the exact origins of name
"chimichurri" are lost in the mists of time but there are
various theories as to its origins and how it got that
interesting name. Some say the sauce is named out of a
corruption of the name of its Irish originator – a man called
Jimmy Curry or Jimmy McCurry. Others claim that the word
came about when British prisoners in Argentina asked for the
sauce in a mixture of English, Spanish and native Indian
words – “che-me-curry” for “hey, give me sauce” or “give
me curry”. Wherever the name comes from, a dash of
chimichurri livens up all meat dishes and even fish and
seafood, too. (
Can you afford to move to Buenos Aires? read
more.)

What is Chimichurri Made Of?

This flavorsome sauce is made from chopped parsley and
garlic mixed with olive oil and vinegar and flavored with
oregano. You can also add cilantro, cumin, lemon and paprika
and can even make a red version of chimichurri with
tomatoes and scarlet bell pepper. The beauty of the sauce is
that it’s easy to make and it’s also packed with nutrients that
directly benefit your health.

Let’s take a look at the health benefits hiding in a batch of
freshly-prepared chimichurri sauce.


























1.
Parsley

The dominant ingredient in chimichurri is fresh parsley, a
cooking herb that not only has a distinctive and delicate
flavor but is highly nutritious.  Parsley is high in vitamin C and
also gives you calcium, iron, vitamin A and carotenes. One
cup of chopped fresh parsley contains 83mg of calcium, 79.8
mg of Vitamin C, 3.72mg of iron, and 5054IU of vitamin A (all
nutritional data is from the USDA National Agricultural
Library, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.)

Parsley contains a compound called apiol which is said to
treat kidney problems and urinary tract infections. According
to Germany’s Commission E (1998) parsley can be used to
relieve bladder infections and also as an aid to pass kidney
stones. This may be because parsley is a diuretic, which
means it increases the flow of urine that may help wash out
stones, toxins and bacteria. Parsley is also believed to reduce
inflammation. Plus, it tastes fresh and clean and you can eat a
lot without worrying about calories.

2.
Garlic

Garlic, chimichurri’s second ingredient, is reputed to be a
heart-healthy herb with additional health benefits. Garlic may
help prevent atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, which
is the most common cause of heart attack and stroke. A 1999
study from University Clinic Charité of the Humboldt
University, Berlin, Germany found garlic powder was a great
help at slowing the development of atherosclerosis after
following 152 people over four years. And a 1997 study by
experts at the Centre for Cardiovascular Pharmacology,
Mainz, Germany showed people who took garlic supplements
had a more flexible aorta – the main artery to the heart –
which indicates less atherosclerosis. Garlic could help lower
cholesterol and also reduce your blood pressure. A 1990
study from the Incorporated Society, Nittendorf, West
Germany demonstrated that people taking garlic powder over
a period of 12 weeks saw a drop in their systolic blood
pressure of 11 percent and 13 percent drop in diastolic
pressure.

Could the garlic in your chimichurri help prevent the common
cold? A 2001 report by the Garlic Centre, Battle, East Sussex,
UK showed garlic has true cold-fighting powers – participants
taking garlic during the winter months were two-thirds less
likely to suffer from the sniffles than those who took a
placebo. And one more health benefit for this chimichurri
ingredient – insect bite prevention. A letter by L Stjernberg
and J Berglund in 2000 to The Journal of the American
Medical Association describes a 20-week trial that looked at
the effect of garlic on tick bites. Soldiers that took garlic
supplements experienced a significant reduction in tick bites
over the course of the study. (Read more about the Top 10
health benefits of garlic.)

3.
Olive Oil

Olive oil binds together the parsley, garlic and herbs in
chimichurri. Of all the natural oils, olive oil is considered a bit
of a star when it comes to health benefits. Olive oil is made
from monounsaturated fat and is believed to help lower total
cholesterol and levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. Olive oil
may also help prevent
stroke.

A 2011 study from the University of Bordeaux and the
National Institute of Health and Medical Research in
Bordeaux, France found people who regularly used olive oil in
cooking, dressings and sauces had a 41 percent lower chance
of stroke that those who never used the oil. A 2009 study
from the University of Porto, Portugal found that one
antioxidant in particular contained in olive oil helps protect
red blood cells from damage, and consequently protects
against heart disease.

If you need another reason to make your chimichurri with
olive oil, it turns out the oil could ward off hunger pangs. A
2008 study from the University of California, Irvine shows
olive oil and other unsaturated fats help keep you satisfied
between meals, leading to fewer snacking or over-eating
occasions. (Read more about
foods that help to keep you
from overeating.)

4.
Oregano

A common topping for pizza, oregano also gives chimichurri a
bit of flavor. Oregano has fiber (quite a lot for a herb - 42.5g
per 100g) which helps keep your digestion smooth and
healthy and also may lower cholesterol and reduce cancer
risk. Oregano also contains vitamin K, iron, vitamin E, calcium
and manganese. Adding oregano to your sauce may be bad
news for fungi and intestinal parasites. As well as having anti-
bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, a 2012 from Long
Island University demonstrated that an ingredient in oregano
could help treat prostate cancer – a compound called
carvacrol induced “cell suicide” in prostate cancer cells. (Read
more about
foods that fight enlarged prostate and prostate
cancer.)

5.
White or Red Vinegar

Chimichurri has a tangy taste and keeps fresh longer with the
addition of white or red vinegar. A 2009 study from the
American Chemical Society shows that the vinegar staple
could promote better health. Vinegar can cut down the
accumulation of body fat and prevent weight gain, according
to experts from Japan who discovered that mice fed a high
fat diet supplemented by vinegar put on significantly less
body fat. (
Vinegar may also curb your taste for sweets, read
more.)

6. Cilantro/ Coriander

Cilantro, otherwise known as coriander, is a tasty herb when
used fresh and many people add it to chimichurri sauce. Does
cilantro have any health benefits? A 2006 study from
Shaheed Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran,
Iran suggests a combo of cilantro, lemon balm and spearmint
helps reduce symptoms of
irritable bowel syndrome with
diarrhea.

Cilantro also has bacteria-fighting powers and could prevent
food-borne illnesses and treat infections caused by bacteria.
This is according to a 2011 study by the University of Beira
Interior in Portugal. And cilantro added to your diet could
help lower levels of total and bad cholesterol in the blood,
according to a 2008 study from Nataraja College of Arts and
Science, India. (Read more about
foods to lower cholesterol.)

7.
Paprika

Add a little spice to your chimichurri. Paprika is a member of
the capsicum family, which also includes red peppers,
pimento pepper and cayenne, and it is a good source of
vitamin A (2,205IU per tablespoon) and beta-carotene. Beta-
carotene is an antioxidant and may help reduce the symptoms
of
arthritis, and prevent free radical damage that could lead
to cancer and heart disease. Paprika has benefits for treating
dyspepsia, according to a 2002 study from the University of
Bologna. People taking red pepper powder supplements were
less likely to experience
bloating and pain compared with
those that took a placebo.

8.
Cumin

Another popular addition to the chimichurri sauce mix is
cumin. Cumin is a good source of iron (66mg per 100g)
which helps your body transport oxygen through the blood
as well as keeps your immune system healthy. Cumin also
contains high levels of antioxidants, according to a 2011
study from the Central Food Technological Research
Institute.  Added to the chimichurri mix, cumin rounds out the
flavor and the health benefits.



Related:
Top 10 Herbs and Spices to Lower Blood Pressure
/
Beets Lower Blood Pressure-But There's a Big Catch / How
Much Is Too Much Salt? / Does Celery Lower Blood
Pressure? --A Comprehensive Review/ Herbs That Boost
Your Immune System /Sugar-The Disease Connection /Can
You Afford to Retire in Buenos Aires?/ Are Diet Sodas Bad
for Your Health? / Ideal Breakfast for Diabetics / Ideal
Breakfast for Arthritis /Healing Foods Links /  Foods That
Shrink Your Waist / Foods That Lower Cholesterol/ VLDL-
The Other Cholesterol/ Foods That Reduce Blood Pressure


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chimichurri  has health benefits
Chimichurri is a delicious alternative to ketchup and it's good for your health too.