Scientifically checked

Sage

By Katrin Koelle
Updated on 18. Nov. 2020

This staple Italian herb has been used in the kitchen and as a naturopathic remedy for thousands of years. Read up on what makes sage so healthy here!

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Sage...

  • ...can help alleviate a sore throat.
    Add sage to hot water and let steep for 10 minutes for a wonderfully aromatic tea that can immediately help soothe sore throats.
  • ...protects against germs.
    Sage has an antibiotic effect.
  • ...can reduce heavy sweating.
    Sage contains tannic acids which help constrict sweat glands, thereby reducing sweating.
  • ...relieves a cough.
    The astringent characteristics of sage can relieve mild coughs.
  • ...calms the stomach.
    Sage has been proven to help relieve stomach cramps and other kinds of stomach pain.
  • ...stimulates digestion.
    In the Middle East, sage has long been used as a naturopathic remedy to promote digestion.
  • ...can have unwanted side effects.
    Sage contains the chemical thujone, which can be poisonous if consumed in high qualities.

What You Should Know About Sage

Sage has been utilized since at least ancient Egypt, when it was considered a potent remedy a for infertility. The Chinese even thought so much of the medicinal herb that in the late 15th century they traded the Dutch three times the amount of Chinese tea in exchange for European sage, a transaction which turned out to be incredibely lucrative for the Chinese. Even then, the grey-green oval leafed herb was used both fresh and dried, as it is today.

Origins

Sage originates from southern Europe and the Mediterranean region.

Season

The harvesting period for fresh sage is between May and September, although it is generally available year-round now in stores.

Flavor

Sage tastes very intensely spicy and slightly tart.

Sage Cookbooks

Find all our recipes with sage here.

How Healthy is Sage?

Sage has long been a naturopathic remedy for a variety of ailments, and for good reason. Its furry leaves are rich in essential oils such as thujone, cineole and camphor, and also contain tanning agents, triterpenes, flavonoids and steroids. These substances imbue sage with powerful anti-inflammatory effects and also make it a potent antibacertial. In addition, sagehas been proven to inhibit the secretion of sweat, relieve coughs and help cure sore throats. Its essential oils also promote bile production, making it an especially good ingredient in fattier dishes. 

Some preliminary studies show that sage might have even more powerful properties, including helping to treat dementia and even inhibit the growth of cancer cells in tumors in the mouth. However more research needs to be done to prove these hypotheses.

Sage contains an essential oil, thujone, which is poisonous in large quantities. After a meal with more than six grams of sage per person, or in people who are particularly sensitive to it, sweating, cramps, nausea and cardiac arrhythmia can occur. Pregnant women and people with cardiovascular diseases should therefore always consult a doctor before consuming sage.

SAGE NUTRITIONAL INFO (100 g)  
Calories 59
Protein 1.7 g
Bold 2 g
Carbohydrates 6.9 g
Fiber 2.9 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips

Purchasing

In summer, buy sage in bunches if possible; the leaves are larger and particularly aromatic at this time. You can also easily grow sage at home. Outside of the summer, sage is still available in most stores.

Storage

Rinse your sage with water (you can keep it in a bunch), shake it, gently pat it dry, then store it in a small plastic bag in the refrigerator compartment. Stored like this, your sage should stay fresh for several days. 

Preparation

After washing and shaking your sage dry, pluck the leaves from the stems and then either cut them or leave them whole, per your recipe. 

What to Make With Sage

Sage is particularly prominent in Italian cooking. The classic Italian dish Saltimbocca, a veal escalope with Parma ham and sage, is brimming with sage flavor and is easy to prepare. Sage is prominent in many hearty Italian red meat dishes, although it also tastes delicious paired with poultry and fish. As a rule of thumb, just remember to use smaller amounts of sage for poultry and fish dishes, and slightly more for red meat and heartier dishes. Sage has a dinstinct flavor which can beautifully amplify flavors if the right amount is used, but will easily overwhelm a dish if you use too much.

Scientifically checked by our EAT SMARTER experts
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