Mint isn’t just for mojitos anymore. And humble parsley, it turns out, may be your heart’s best friend. Long limited to the role of superficial garnishes, these are only two of the leafy, tasty herbs that pack HIV health benefits. Many herbs contain potent antioxidants, which may help slow HIV, repair immune-system damage and deter heart disease, cancer and some harmful bacteria.

Parsley, for example, has three times the vitamin C of oranges and is a great source of fiber and vitamins A and K. Oregano has 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples and four times more than blueberries. It also delivers vitamin K, iron, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. Mint is another antioxidant superstar. And experts agree: better to get nutrients from foods than from supplements.

But look before you leaf: Sprinkling some herbs into a liquid diet isn’t the answer. Nor is simply garnishing your penne with a few crushed leaves. Instead, use herbs as a main ingredient. They’re inexpensive and usually available at local supermarkets. Better yet, grow them yourself—for all-season use fresh off the stem.


Oregano Salad à la Turque

2 cups fresh oregano, leaves only, finely chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes, seeds removed
6–8 green onions, finely chopped
1 thinly sliced hot or regular pepper
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic or pomegranate vinegar, or a mixture of orange and lemon juice.

Mix all the ingredients together and let marinate for 1/2 to 1 hour to meld flavors. Serve as a side salad or as a veggie bed for hot lean grilled beef, chicken or fish.

Parsley and Mint Pesto

1 3/4 cup packed fresh parsley
1/2 cup packed fresh mint
1/4 cup walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts or pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Whir all ingredients together in a blender or food processor. Toss 1 tbsp of the mix into a cup of hot whole-wheat pasta; add 2 tbsp yogurt for a low-fat pesto cream sauce; or use generously as a marinade and sauce for grilled chicken, fish or seafood.