Seasonal Produce Spotlight: Benefits of Dill

How to Eat Dill and How Much it Costs.

You may be most familiar with dill as what gives many sauces and dressings their distinctive flavor, but did you know that it’s often used for medicinal purposes as well? That’s because it’s packed with nutrients, and the potential health benefits of dill are many. For that reason, we’re going to look at what dill is, why it’s so good for us, how to eat it and how much it costs. 

Photo of dill on a cutting board as an example of the benefits of dill

What is Dill?

Dill is an annual herb that’s in the Apiaceae family, which also includes celery, parsley and carrots. It has a strong smell and taste, and both its feathery leaves and seeds are used in cooking. It also produces essential oiland has been used for thousands of years1 in middle eastern countries as a medicinal herb and for centuries in Asian traditional medicine3. In fact, the Herb Society of America says that the earliest known record of dill as a medicinal herb was found in Egypt 5,000 years ago, when the plant was referred to as a “soothing medicine.1” 

Dill is a warmer weather herb and, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac is best grown from seed (as opposed to transplants) after the last frost in the spring4. That means you’ll generally start seeing it at your local farmer’s market in late April, May or June. You can usually find it year-round in the refrigerated produce section at your grocery store.

Nutrients in Dill

One of the benefits of dill in the kitchen and for medicinal purposes is the number of nutrients this herb contains.

Health Benefits of Dill

There are a number of health benefits of dill, which is why it’s long been used in ayurvedic medicines. In that ancient healing system, it’s often used to help relieve digestive issues because it’s mildly diuretic, can relieve intestinal spasms and helps with gas2,3. It’s also used to relieve colic in babies, to motivate lactation in nursing women and help with bad breath3.

Because it’s a strong antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory and has strong “immune properties,” some studies have shown that dill has anti-ageing and anticancer potential3,6. In addition, it’s been shown3 that many of the properties in dill could also be beneficial in the management of diabetes as well as cardiovascular diseases. 

How to Store and Prepare Dill

Dill is best used fresh, which is why it should be bought local if at all possible. It can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you aren’t able to use it all during that week, dill can also be frozen or dried. To freeze it, simply spread it in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for 24 hours. You can then move the sprigs to a freezer bag and store in the freezer. To dry dill, hang it upside down in a warm (not hot), dry area. 

Adding dill is a great way to add plenty of flavor when cooking. It can be used with roasted vegetables and in dips, sauces, dressings, marinades, salads and in adding flavor to fish. Of course, dill is also used to make dill pickles.

Here are some of my favorite recipes that use dill:

Cost of Dill

Bang for buck-wise, dill is an inexpensive way to add flavor to dishes that might otherwise be a little bland (I will easily eat a salad just to get the ranch dressing). Because dill has such a strong smell, it tends to repel pests on its own, so pesticides aren’t usually needed8. For that reason, buying organic probably isn’t a necessity if you’re needing to prioritize how to spend your food dollars. BUT, you’ll probably find that buying dill (even if it’s organic) at your local farmer’s market is much cheaper and more cost-effective than buying it at the store. For the same price or less of what I pay in the store, I can get from the farmer’s market a package that’s easily 2-3 times the amount that I would get in the store. If I don’t need it all at once, I freeze it for the future. 

The price I pay at the farmer’s market is $2 for a big pack of organic. The prices in the store usually run between $1.50 for conventional for much less quantity to $2.99 for organic for much less quantity. If you do buy it in the store, make sure it looks as fresh as possible, and it will still be well worth the price that you pay for it. 

Lean on Your Community

What is your favorite way to use dill – either in cooking or medicinally? Be sure and let us know in the comments below. 

Sources

  1. The Herb Society of America’s Essential Guide to Dill.  https://www.herbsociety.org/file_download/inline/0191822e-0527-4cac-afb6-99d2caab6b78
  2. Jana, S, and G S Shekhawat. “Anethum graveolens: An Indian traditional medicinal herb and spice.” Pharmacognosy reviews vol. 4,8 (2010): 179-84. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.70915. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249919/
  3. Goodarzi, Mohammad Taghi et al. “The Role of Anethum graveolens L. (Dill) in the Management of Diabetes.” Journal of tropical medicine vol. 2016 (2016): 1098916. doi:10.1155/2016/1098916. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5088306/
  4. Jana, S, and G S Shekhawat. “Anethum graveolens: An Indian traditional medicinal herb and spice.” Pharmacognosy reviews vol. 4,8 (2010): 179-84. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.70915. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249919/
  5. The Old Farmer’s Almanac. https://www.almanac.com/plant/dill
  6. U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172233/nutrients
  7. Li Z, Xue Y, Li M, et al. The Antioxidation of Different Fractions of Dill (Anethum graveolens) and Their Influences on Cytokines in Macrophages RAW264.7. J Oleo Sci. 2018;67(12):1535‐1541. doi:10.5650/jos.ess18134. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30429445/
  8. One Green Planet. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/crops-protect-plants-from-pests/

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