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Dubai’s Waterfront Market has collaborated with nutritionist Zeina Maktabi to share a list of the most powerful herbs and spices available at the market, which help increase immunity levels and fight off viruses.

In addition to being renowned for fresh food like fish, meat, poultry, fruits, vegetables, dry goods and dates, all at reasonable prices, the Waterfront Market also offers an array of herbs and spices including healing ones that are suitable for remedies and are worth adding to your meals and should be incorporated in your daily routine.

Nutritionist Zeina Maktabi holds a degree in nutrition and dietetics from the American University of Beirut and a master’s degree in Public Health & Health Promotion from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK. She says: “Your immune system is your shield against any harmful cells, it’s very important to keep it strong at all times and support it to be in its optimal condition in case of infections with viruses or bacteria. I am very happy to collaborate with the Waterfront Market and select my top six herbs and spices from the array on offer at the market and share with you my favourite recipes which are guaranteed to boost your immune systems.”


1. Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm looks like mint, and shares the same family as mint, but has a lemon-scent and flavour. It is high in antioxidants and helps lower inflammation in the body which allows your body to focus on its immune function. Lemon Balm also has anti-viral properties which helps protect the body against viruses. It has a relaxing effect on the body and can help you have a restful sleep when you consume it as a tea.

2. Holy Basil
Holy Basil is a green leafy plant native to Southeast Asia. It’s been used in Indian medicine as a treatment for many conditions. It has high levels of zinc, iron, vitamin C & A – these minerals and vitamins help boost immunity and it also has anti-bacterial, antiviral, & anti-fungal properties and is known to help heal wounds. You can make holy basil tea using the leaves or dried leaf powder. Place two to three teaspoons of holy basil in a cup of boiling water and let it steep for five to six minutes. It can also be used when making vegetable stews or soups.

3. Oregano
Oregano is a commonly used herb especially in Italian and Greek cuisine; it has a strong flavour and brings warmth and slight sweetness to dishes. It has potent antibacterial properties that help fight bacteria and has two compounds, carvacrol and thymol, which have anti-viral properties. It’s also super rich in antioxidants that help reduce inflammation.

4. Bay Leaf
Bay Leaf is pleasantly aromatic and gives off a sweet and pleasing aroma to dishes. It is usually used in dried format as a natural flavoring in dishes. As fresh leaves, it contains high levels of Vitamin C, a vitamin that significantly boosts immunity. In both fresh and dried format, it is a great source of zinc and selenium which are two minerals known to help strengthen immunity cells, called Natural Killer Cells, that fight off infections. Try out Bay Leaves and Cinnamon Tea: three to five bay leaves, one cinnamon stick or one tsp cinnamon spice, four cups water and honey. In a saucepan, bring water to boil, add bay leaves and cinnamon and let simmer for 20 mins. Strain, add any sweetener, and enjoy.

5. Turmeric
Turmeric is a very powerful root that has been studied and proven to have bioactive compounds that protect against heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Its most active compound is called Curcumin; with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric helps the body fight inflammation and keeps infections at bay. To help absorption of curcumin, always have it with some black pepper.

6. Cinnamon
Can be added to both savoury and sweet dishes. It gives a warm, sweet flavor and has been used for centuries. It’s a super food, loaded with anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamaldehyde, one of the main active components of cinnamon, may help fight various kinds of infection especially those of the respiratory tract. Ways to consume: there are many ways to use cinnamon whether in baking or in soups and stews. Tip: You can add two cinnamon sticks in boiling water and leave it to seep and enjoy it warm in the evening. ✤

Honey Lemon Balm Spritzer
½ cup honey
2 cups warm water
½ cup lemon juice
1 cup cold water
1 cup lemon balm (lightly packed cup)
2 cups sparkling water

– Mix honey with warm water till dissolved
– Then add the lemon juice and cold water
– Mash the lemon balm leaves and add
– Finally mix in the sparkling water
– Place in fridge to cool and enjoy as an afternoon cooling drink.