Providing a tangy addition to pickles, fresh dill is available at markets during the summer and early fall while dried dill is available throughout the year.
Dill is native to southern Russia, western Africa and the Mediterranean region. The seeds are stronger and more flavorful than the leaves. Its green leaves are wispy and fernlike and have a soft, sweet taste.
Dill’s unique health benefits come from two types of healing components: monoterpenes, including carvone, limonene, and anethofuran; and flavonoids, including kaempferol and vicenin.
Protection Against Free Radicals and Carcinogens
The monoterpene components of dill have been shown to activate the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, which helps attach the anti-oxidant molecule glutathione to oxidized molecules that would otherwise do damage in the body. The activity of dill’s volatile oils qualify it as a “chemoprotective” food (much like parsley) that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens, such as the benzopyrenes that are part of cigarette smoke, charcoal grill smoke, and the smoke produced by trash incinerators.
An Anti-Bacterial Spice
The total volatile oil portion of dill has also been studied for its ability to prevent bacterial overgrowth. In this respect, dill shares the stage with garlic, which has also been shown to have “bacteriostatic” or bacteria-regulating effects.