The World's Healthiest Foods
Dill weed, dried

Providing a tangy addition to pickles, salad dressing and fish dishes, 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 and are most commonly associated with the cuisines of Scandinavia and Germany. Its green leaves are wispy and fernlike and have a soft, sweet taste.

 


Health Benefits

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.

A Flavorful Way to Help Prevent Bone Loss

In addition to its chemoprotective and bacteriostatic properties, our food ranking system qualified dill as a very good source of calcium. Calcium is important for reducing the bone loss that occurs after menopause and in some conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Our food ranking system also qualified dill as a good source of dietary fiber and a good source of the minerals manganese, iron and magnesium.

Description

Dill is a unique plant in that both its leaves and seeds are used as a seasoning. Dill's green leaves are wispy and fernlike and have a soft, sweet taste. Dried dill seeds are light brown in color and oval in shape, featuring one flat side and one convex ridged side. The seeds are similar in taste to caraway, featuring a flavor that is aromatic, sweet and citrusy, but also slightly bitter.

Dill’s name comes from the old Norse word “dilla” which means “to lull”. This name reflects dill's traditional uses as both a carminative stomach soother and an insomnia reliever.

Dill is scientifically known as Anethum graveolens and is part of the Umbelliferae family, whose other members include parsley, cumin and bay.

History

Dill is native to southern Russia, western Africa and the Mediterranean region. It has been used for its culinary and medicinal properties for millennia. Dill was mentioned both in the Bible and in ancient Egyptian writings. It was popular in the ancient Greek and Roman cultures, where it was considered a sign of wealth and was revered for its many healing properties. Dill was used by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in a recipe for cleaning the mouth. Ancient soldiers would apply burnt dill seeds to their wounds to promote healing.

The curative properties of dill have been honored throughout history. The Conqueror Charlemagne even made it available on his banquet tables, so his guests who indulged too much could benefit from its carminative properties. Today, dill is a noted herb in the cuisines of Scandinavia, Central Europe, North Africa and the Russian Federation.

How to Select and Store

How to Enjoy

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

Tips for Cooking with Dill:

Combine dill weed with plain yogurt and chopped cucumber for a delicious cooling dip.

Use dill when cooking fish, especially salmon and trout, as the flavors complement one another very well.

Use dill weed as a garnish for sandwiches.

Since dill seeds were traditionally used to soothe the stomach after meals, place some seeds in a small dish and place it on the dinner table for all to enjoy.

Add dill to your favorite egg salad recipe.

Mix together chopped potatoes, green beans, and plain yogurt, then season with both dill seeds and chopped dill weed.

Safety

Dill is not a commonly allergenic food and is not known to contain measurable amounts of goitrogens, oxalates, or purines.

Nutritional Profile

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. For more detailed information on our Food and Recipe Rating System, please click here.

 

Dill Seed
2.00 tsp
13.42 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
calcium 66.69 mg 6.7 8.9 very good
iron 0.72 mg 4.0 5.4 good
manganese 0.08 mg 4.0 5.4 good
dietary fiber 0.93 g 3.7 5.0 good
magnesium 11.26 mg 2.8 3.8 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

References

  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986.
  • Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York.
  • Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Dover Publications, New York.
  • Singh G, Kapoor IP, Pandey SK et al. Studies on essential oils: part 10; antibacterial activity of volatile oils of some spices. Phytother Res 2002 Nov;16(7):680-2.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.
  • Zheng GQ, Kenney PM, Lam LK. Anethofuran, carvone, and limonene: potential cancer chemopreventive agents from dill weed oil and caraway oil. Planta Med 1992 Aug;58(4):338-41.

This page was updated on: 2005-05-06 15:24:58
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation