French tarragon herb, also known as dragon wort, is a very popular culinary herb used as flavoring agent, especially in the Mediterranean cuisines. This aromatic perennial growing herb is rich in phytonutrients as well antioxidants that help promote health and prevent diseases.
Botanically, tarragon belongs within the family of Asteraceae, in the genus: Artemisia, and known scientifically as Artemisia dracunculus sativa. The herb is thought to have originated in the Central Asia region, probably in Siberia.
This herb is small shrub featuring slim woody branching stems that reach up to a meter in height. It grows well in rich sandy soil with adequate sunlight. Its leaves feature smooth, dark green surface with pointed ends.
Russian tarragon (A. dracunculoides) is a more robust, closely related species of French tarragon. It, however, is quite inferior in flavor to its Mediterranean counterpart and hence, less preferred in cooking.
Health benefits of Tarragon herb
This exquisite herb is rich in numerous health benefiting phyto-nutrients that are indispensable for optimum health.
The main essential oils in tarragon are estragole (methyl chavicol), cineol, ocimene and phellandrene.
Traditionally, tarragon has been employed as a traditional remedy to stimulate appetite and alleviate anorexic symptoms.
Scientific studies suggest that poly-phenolic compounds in this herb help lower blood-sugar levels.
Fresh tarragon herb is one of the highest antioxidant value food sources among the common herbs. Its total measured ORAC (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value is 15,542 trolex equivalents (TE) per 100 g.
Laboratory studies on tarragon extract shows certain compounds in them inhibit platelet activation, preventing platelet aggregation and adhesion to the blood vessel wall. It, thus, helps prevent clot formation inside tiny blood vessels of heart and brain protecting from heart attack, and stroke.
The herb is very rich source of vitamins such as vitamin-C, vitamin-A as well as B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, niacin, riboflavin, etc., that function as antioxidant as well as co-factors for enzymes in the metabolism.
Tarragon is a notably excellent source of minerals like calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, and zinc. Manganese is utilized by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for cellular respiration (co-factors for cytochrome-oxidase enzyme) and blood cell production.