Dill – 8 Great Health Benefits and Side Effects

Dill Health Benefits and Side Effects

What Is Dill?

Dill weed (Anethum Graveolens) is a popular cooking herb that’s aromatic and has a strong flavor, similar to fennel, star anise, and celery. The dill plant is a slow-growing herb that’s part of the family of celery (Apiaceae).

The dill plant is a biennial warm-season herb, having a short life-span of only 2 years. It’s highly capable of self-seeding, but for a dill plant to fully grow back it takes around 1 year.

When cooking, dill weed is used as a herb while ground dill seeds are used as a spice. There are 7 different variations of dill, which include:

  • Bouquet dill
  • Long island mammoth dill
  • Mammoth dill
  • Vierling dill
  • Fernleaf dill (or delikat)
  • Dukat dill
  • Superdukat dill

Both dill weeds and seeds are usually quite easy to find in most grocery stores. Dill stays fresh for longer when stored in the fridge, lasting between 2 to 3 days, while seeds last around 5 to 6 days.

Dill seeds are generally regarded as exotic, as they’re quite expensive when compared to other cooking herbs and spices.

It’s also used in medicine as an essential oil for its antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antitumor effects. Other essential oils with similar effects and health benefits include:

  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Clove
  • Lavender
  • Clary sage
  • Arborvitae

Dill has also been used in multiple medicines to combat against:

  • Signs of skin aging
  • Bronchitis
  • Colds and coughs
  • Fevers
  • Digestive tract infections
  • Gallbladder infections
  • Flatulence
  • Liver infections
  • Loss of appetite
  • Spasms
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)

Plant Characteristics

bunch of dill crops

Dried dill seeds are light brown in color and oval in shape while having one curved (convex) side and the other being flat and ridged.

The name dill “weed” is a misnomer, as the dill plant is not actually a weed, but in fact thin and long leaves. Fresh dill leaves are delicate, feathery, and aromatic.

Dill’s green leaves are wispy, fernlike, and are finely divided into narrow strips. Dill leaves and seeds and have a soft, sweet taste that resembles that of pickles.

Fully grown adult leaves are 28 to 42 cm (11 to 16.5 inches) tall and are filled with oil passages, which are its pockets of essential oils.

Dill herbs are deeply rooting plants that have narrow and spindle-shaped roots that taper downwards like a radish. Their stems are full of fine and hollow rills, that have small bluish-green spots.

Their leaves are soft, pinnate, resembling small needles, which are spread throughout the stems of the plant.

Cultivating Dill Weed and Seeds

Dill plants are quite easy and low maintenance to grow. They require full exposure to the sun and grows well even in colder weather.

Since dill is a plant that fully grows annually, it’s quite sensitive to weather, soil, sun, and time planted. Here’s how to plant and harvest dill plants:

  • Plant family: Umbellifers
  • Sowing time (planting time): April to May
  • Flowering period: July to August
  • Harvest time: June to September
  • Location: Very sunny area that’s sheltered from the wind. Keep it exposed to sunlight for 7 to 8 hours per day.
  • Soil quality: Porous, humus, and nutrient-rich soil work best
  • Soil pH: 5.4 to 6.8
  • Soil temperature: 15°C (60°F)

The plant can grow anywhere from 18 to 52 inches tall, because of that, make sure to shield them from heavy winds as their thin stalks that can bend in the breeze.

Dill is a great plant that grows well with many companion herbs and plants such as:

  • Asparagus
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Onion
  • Lettuce
  • Vegetables in the cabbage family (Brassica oleracea): Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli, collard greens, cabbage, and gai lan

Dill has many non-compatible herbs, do not grow along with:

  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Caraway
  • Chilli and bell peppers
  • Eggplants
  • Fennel
  • Lavender
  • Potatoes

It’s best to plant dill in your garden or herb bed. Planting the seeds directly in the soil gives the best results, as transplanting can harm or possibly ruin the plant.

Nutritional Facts of Dill

Dill is a nutritious herb that’s full of healthy fats and dietary fiber, while also being low in calories compared to other cooking herbs.

Dill plants have been used medicine for thousands of years due to their healthy plant-based compounds, used to treat a wide variety of ailments, illnesses, and diseases.

Consuming 5 grams of dill per day gives you a good amount of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals including:

  • Fiber, protein, and fats
  • Complex vitamins such as vitamin C, A, D, E, K, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, ascorbic acid, and folate
  • Minerals such as calcium (208 mg), iron (6.6 mg), magnesium (55 mg), phosphorus (66 mg), potassium (738 mg), manganese (1.3 mg), sodium, zinc, and copper
dill bush with herbs and seeds

It also contains monounsaturated fatty acids, saturated fat, and no trans fats. The 6 fatty acids found in oregano include:

  • Linolenic acid
  • Palmitic acid
  • Stearic acid
  • Behenic acid
  • Arachidic acid

Dill is full of powerful antioxidants that help reduce the amount of free radicals in your system as well as the risk of cancer. The list of antioxidants found in dill include:

  • Phenolic compounds
  • Polyphenols
  • Flavonoids
  • Carotenoids
  • Flavonols
  • Alkaloids
  • Anthocyanin
  • Tannins

  • Saponins

These health plant-based compounds have many health benefits. Antioxidants are powerful nutrients that improve your health in many ways as they prevent many harmful illnesses and diseases.

Antioxidants are anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, antidiabetic, as well as antitumor. Making it very important to have an abundance of antioxidant-rich foods in your diet.

The Origin and History of Dill

Dill herbs (Anethum graveolens) have been discovered and used since 5000 B.C., historically used in essential oils and medicine. Dill herbs were written down as a treatment in an Egyptian medical manuscript for impotence.

The species of dill belongs to the parsley and celery family called Apiaceae or Umbelliferae and naturally grows in most hot and sunny locations.

It’s native to eastern Mediterranean, Indian, North African, and Asian regions although it’s easily cultivated in almost any location or weather since dill is such a strong and resilient herb.

During the Egyptian era, they used dill essential oil as an aphrodisiac to cure impotence, increase sexual desire, pleasure, and behavior as well as ward off bad “spirits” and witches.

Romans within the 1rst century used dill (historically known as laser) as a symbol of good luck and wealth. Farming and cultivation practices in Rome primarily used strawberries, coriander, and dill through most of their farms and ancient sites.

Roman soldiers have been theorized to have brought dill plants from Central Europe and Southwest Asia to Rome during times of war.

Greeks used certain species of dill to signify wealth while used others in traditional cooking recipes used with fish, salads, vegetables, beans, and soups.

Many other cultures used dill for soothing colic symptoms in babies and relieving upset stomachs caused by an intolerance to dairy and other foods.

Dill was also mentioned in the Bible and used during long church services, as religious entities would hand out dill seeds to children to suppress their appetites.

Cooking With Dill

Dill weed is a popular cooking herb in Asian, North African, European, and Indian cuisines due to its strong and mildly sour flavor.

Dill seeds are also used in many Indian recipes, they’re usually toasted or roasted, enhancing their pungent flavor and increasing the strength of their scent.

Used fresh or dried, dill is a versatile cooking herb that’s fairly sensitive to heat and should only be added near the end of the recipe or as a garnish to preserve its flavor.

Dill’s flavor is mildly bitter, lemony, and sweet with a licorice-like flavor similar to that of fennel. While the flavor of dill seeds is similar to that of anise seeds and heating them brings out its full flavor.

Additionally, dill is also used when making brines used for pickling vegetables, since it’s already pungent it adds a great flavor that contrasts well with vinegar.

Here’s a list of foods, ingredients, herbs and spices that go well with dill:

Medicinal Qualities and Uses

Dill has many medicinal uses due to its powerful anti-inflammatory health benefits.

It’s used to treat fevers and colds, coughs, bronchitis, hemorrhoids, infections, hay fever, spasms and nerve pain, genital ulcers, menstrual cramps, and sleep disorders.

Using dill essential oils can be a quick and effective way to treat many illnesses and virus infections. Essential oils are readily available online as well as in most pharmacies and are great for reducing anxiety and stress levels.

Dill is part of the Apiaceae family, which also includes angelica, fennel, carrot, celery, parsnip, parsley, cumin, and coriander. It’s one of 12 powerful herbs that are used often in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India.

Here are the 12 Ayurvedic herbs and spices:

  • Ashwagandha
  • Boswellia
  • Triphala
  • Brahmi
  • Cumin
  • Turmeric
  • Licorice root
  • Gotu kola
  • Bitter melon
  • Cardamom

Dill Health Benefits

Dill is a herb that has many healthy plant-based compounds, antioxidants, and essential oils that offer many health benefits.

Many nutritionists and medical professionals consider dill to be a superfood since it’s very good at fighting cancer and early-stage tumors, according to multiple studies.

Found as an essential oil or daily supplement, dill extract can be an easy way to include it into your diet without having to change your existing recipes.

According to a study conducted by the Journal of Tropical Medicine, dill has been proven to be a powerful antioxidant, stress reliever (antistress), cardioprotective, antihypercholesterolemic (stabilizes cholesterol), and antihyperlipidemic (lowers triglycerides and cholesterol levels).

This makes dill great herb and spice for people suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stress.

1. Lowers Bad (LDL) Cholesterol Levels

bushy dill plants

One of the powerful health benefits of dill is that it can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Hypercholesterolemia, which is caused by high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) is a major risk for coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.

The American Heart Association (AHA) found that 16% of adults in the United States had high levels of LDL cholesterol, which are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular diseases and other illnesses.

Too much bad cholesterol can start to form plaques in the wall of the arteries over time, increasing blood pressure and can cause a blood clot.

Multiple research studies have proven how dill can beneficially affect cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body.

One study published by the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that taking dill extract tablets by mouth daily, for 2 months helped participants reduce their total cholesterol by 18% and triglycerides by 7.4%.

Dill did not reduce healthy (HDL) cholesterol levels, which makes it even more effective. The study also found that no noticeable side effects took place while taking dill regularly for the 2 months.

To help reduce your blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and cholesterol levels taking dill supplements or dill essential oils can drastically improve your heart health.

2. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels

Dill has many antidiabetic properties, such as regulating and reducing blood sugar levels. Used for centuries by traditional medicine doctors for diabetics.

An epidemiologic study conducted at the Journal of Tropical Medicine found that the antioxidants and healthy plant-based compounds in dill reduced blood sugar levels, as well as the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Additionally, a study involving 24 males and females found that taking dill supplements daily for 3 months found a 26% improvement on triglycerides and blood sugar levels.

Dill has strong anti-hyperlipidemic properties that improve fat breakdown (lipid peroxidation) in the liver, further supporting blood sugar levels, keeping your cardiovascular system healthy.

This is also beneficial to people susceptible to heart disease or has a family history of heart-related diseases.

3. Dill Helps Treat The Common Cold

Dill essential oils are very effective at clearing up your sinuses and quickly recovering from the common cold.

Plant-based compounds such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and antioxidants are strong anti-inflammatory agents that also fights off cold symptoms such as coughs, blocked sinuses, fevers, and chills.

Multiple research papers found that dill is highly antiviral, antifungal, antibloating (carminative), antispasmodic, and antimicrobial, which kills germs, bacteria, and fungus as well as strengthens your immune system and central nervous system.

Dill is powerful at killing bacteria, making it a core ingredient in many prescription drugs and medicines. This makes it readily accessible and an easy-to-use medication for fighting off other infections such as bronchitis, ulcers, cold sores, nerve pains, and hemorrhoids.

4. Gets Rid Of Indigestion and Bloating

One of the most documented and researched health benefits of dill is its ability to get rid of indigestion, bloating, and other digestive system-related issues.

Both dill seeds and leaves can be made into a tea to further soothe indigestion and cleansing your entire digestive system due to its antibacterial effects.

dill flowers and plants

This also has additional health benefits which include:

  • Freshens breath
  • Relieves stomach aches
  • Cleans the esophagus
  • Gets rid of acid reflux and heartburn
  • Calms intestinal pains and gripe (sharp pains)
  • Relieves stomach cramps

Dill is also used to treat colic in babies as well as improving appetite and relieving gas in adults. These benefits are mostly due to anethole, which is a polyphenol that’s a natural aromatic and flavor-enhancing compound.

Anethole is also found in certain essential oils and is mostly known for its relaxing effects on the muscular system. It relaxes external large muscles as well as internal organs and deep muscular tissues. Other foods that contain anethole include:

  • Anise (over 90%)
  • Star anise (over 90%)
  • Fennel and fennel essential oils (50 to 60%)
  • Chickpea seeds (89.5%)

5. Dill Kills Cancer Cells

Antioxidants have thousands of studies that prove their effectiveness at killing cancerous cells and tumors. Dill is full of antioxidants that have powerful anticancer properties, which also fight off free radicals and reduces oxidative damage.

Dill has powerful anticancer, antioxidant, and chemopreventative properties, making it a healthy herbal supplement for patients undergoing cancer treatments, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Multiple studies found that dill seed extracts were highly effective at stopping cancer cell proliferation (reproduction).

Dill weeds and seeds contain powerful cancer-killing antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and limonene, a healthy plant-based compound that’s very effective at killing off cancer cells.

A scientific research paper found that limonene was able to induce tumor cell death (apoptosis) in on:

  • Breast cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Skin cancer

Other herbs and foods that are great at killing cancer cells include:

Dill has nearly 20x as many antioxidants and flavonoids than Camellia Sinensis-based teas such as earl grey tea, green tea, white tea, and oolong tea.

Green tea is a great source of antioxidants but it only contains 1.5 mmol/100g while dry dill contains 20.0 mmol/100g.

An additional study published by the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. They found that giving dill seed extract to mice daily, found that over the course of 28 days their peptic ulcers reduced in size and severity by over 50%, reducing their risk of gastric cancer.

Dill Side Effects and Detriments

Although dill is a healthy herb, it’s full of strong and harmful chemical compounds. Consuming too much dill can cause you to overdose on these chemicals and cause adverse side effects.

The main harmful reactions that occur from dill are its ability o cause allergic reactions, negative interactions with drugs and medicine, and its harmful effect on pregnancy.

Since dill herbs, supplements, and essential oils are so easy to consume, considering its size and potency, it’s critical that you consult a medical professional before making any changes to your diet.

bunch of dill herbs with cutters

1. May Cause Allergic Reactions

One of the most common side effect of dill is that it may cause allergic reactions. Dill allergies to foods in the family of carrots and daisies (Echinacea and Umbellifers), this also includes herbs and spice such as caraway, celery, coriander, parsley, and fennel.

These dill-related allergies also get triggered by taking a herb essential oil that’s part of the family of Umbellifers. Common allergic reaction symptoms include:

  • Skin redness and irritation
  • Hives (red patches on the skin)
  • Oral pruritus (itching)
  • Swelling of your throat and tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The most problematic spices for people who have allergies include celery, black pepper, garlic, vanilla, cinnamon, sesame, turmeric, onion, and mustard.

2. Negative Interactions With Drugs and Medication

Dill has many plant-based compounds that impact blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity, and triglyceride levels in the blood.

When taking medication that’s designed to treat certain issues such as high blood pressure, thyroid issues, cholesterol, and diabetes, these compounds can amplify the effects of the medications making them very harmful.

The list of antidiabetic drugs and medications that should not be taken alongside dill includes (drug name (chemical compound)):

  • Acarbose (alpha-glucosidase inhibitors)
  • Nateglinide (Meglitinides)
  • Pioglitazone (Thiazolidinediones)
  • Metformin (Biguanides)
  • Glimepiride, Glipizide, Glibenclamide, Amaryl, and Glyburide (Sulfonylureas, Glucotrol, DiaBeta, Glynase, PresTab, Micronase)
  • Januvia and Onglyza (dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors)
  • Glucophage (Insulin and Metformin)
  • Actos (Pioglitazone)
  • Avandia (Rosiglitazone)
  • Diabinese (Chlorpropamide)
  • Orinase (Tolbutamide)

The side effects of taking antidiabetic medications are dangerous. If your blood pressure and blood sugar levels drop substantially while taking an aggressive drug, it may result in dizziness, weakness, fainting, and possibly death.

This also applies to medications used before and after surgeries, as blood thinners can drastically increase bleeding which must be completely avoided during surgery. You must stop taking blood thinners and blood-thinning foods 2 weeks before surgery.

Always consult a medical professional before making any changes to your diet while under prescription medications or drugs.

3. Harmful For Pregnant Women

Dill extracts and essential oils can potentially harm you during pregnancy, with the major side effect being a miscarriage.

Using dill regularly can stimulate uterine contractions, as it’s a strong emmenagogue. Emmenagogue herbs are medically potent in nature and stimulate blood flow to the pelvic area and around the uterus, easing menstruation.

This can be beneficial for women who have trouble menstruating, otherwise, this is highly dangerous to pregnant and expecting mothers. Another potent herb to avoid is parsley, as it’s an even more effective emmenagogue.

Herbs that fall in the category of emmenagogues have been used for decades as a natural form of birth control, as herbs like dill and parsley are very efficient at stimulating contractions and abortions in the first 6 weeks of labour.

Even after 6 weeks, any risk to a pregnant mother and child must be entirely avoided.

Here are other foods, drinks, herbs, and supplements to avoid consuming while pregnant:

  • Yohimbe bark
  • Ephedra
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Fenugreek
  • Mint, peppermint, and spearmint
  • Vitamin E supplements
  • High-mercury fish and raw fish
  • Caffeine supplements
  • Alcohol

The unique healthy plant compounds found in dill makes it a powerhouse of nutrition, helping improve heart health, fighting cancer, lowering blood sugar levels, lowering triglyceride levels, getting rid of the common cold, and improving digestive health.

Dill extracts have even been used in ancient Ayurveda medicine practices for over 5,000 years now, with modern studies and research papers proving most of the claimed effects.

The health benefits and side effects of dill are highly variable depending on your current state of health.

young growing dill plant

Here’s the full list of the health benefits of dill:

  1. Lowers Bad (LDL) Cholesterol Levels
  2. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
  3. Dill Helps Treat The Common Cold
  4. Gets Rid Of Indigestion and Bloating
  5. Dill Kills Cancer Cells

Here’s the list of side effects of dill:

  1. May Cause Allergic Reactions
  2. Negative Interactions With Drugs and Medication
  3. Harmful For Pregnant Women

The side effects of dill can be very harmful to pregnant women and people under multiple forms of prescription medications.

Dil is an easy herb to grow and is very easily added in cooking recipes, usable in both fresh and dry forms.

Dill herbs are a staple in pickling, it improves the shelf life as well as adds the traditional pickled flavor to most fermented foods. To make a traditional brine for pickling, dill is mixed with other ingredients such as vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.

Both the leaves of the plant and its seeds are edible, with the seeds being more aromatic and slightly more bitter

When testing for allergic reactions make sure you apply the herb on a small area of skin, to see if any reactions occur within an hour.

Avoid all forms of dill, including seeds, supplements, and extracts if you’re pregnant, have low thyroid levels, have low blood sugar, or will have surgery soon.

Dill is a natural blood thinner that can drastically increase bleeding during and after surgeries. Dill can increase the risk of a miscarriage for pregnant mothers as it may aggressively stimulate uterine contractions.

Additionally, if you don’t take any prescription medications and have good blood pressure levels, taking dill extract regularly can have many health benefits and provide a lot of nutrition, vitamins, and minerals.

Overall, dill is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants, carotenoids, and limonene that are antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-hyperlipidemic, and relieves many digestive problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Grow Dill?

Dill plants are quite easy and low maintenance to grow. They require full exposure to the sun and grows well even in colder weather.

Since dill is a plant that fully grows annually, it’s quite sensitive to weather, soil, sun, and time planted.

Here’s how to plant and harvest dill plants:

Plant family: Umbellifers

Sowing time (planting time): April to May

Flowering period: July to August

Harvest time: June to September

Location: Very sunny area that’s sheltered from the wind. Keep it exposed to sunlight for 7 to 8 hours per day.

Soil quality: Porous, humus, and nutrient-rich soil work best.

Soil pH: 5.4 to 6.8

Soil temperature: 15°C (60°F)

The plant can grow anywhere from 18 to 52 inches tall, because of that, make sure to shield them from heavy winds as their thin stalks that can bend in the breeze.

How Is Dill Harvested?

Here is how you properly harvest herbs, seeds, and stems of dill weeds.

When trimming your dill weed, use pruners or scissors to cut off the leaves or entire stems. For cooking, you just need to cut the leaves.

Only remove the stems when the seeds are brown and ripe.

After harvesting your dill, you need to dry the leaves, seeds, and/or stems.

Wash the herb to remove any dirt, afterwards, hang your leaves upside down to dry. Make sure they’re not clumped up together.

Have a bag or plate under the leaves, to catch the seeds as they all begin to dry.

How To Use Dill?

Dill has many forms, its usually used in cooking and even less so in baking.

You can find extracts and supplements which can be an easy way to include dill into your diet.

When used in cooking, it’s best added at the end of the cooking process since it’s a sensitive herb. This also avoids destroying the herb’s oils and aroma from high-heat cooking.

Dill is also used in medicine to fight off:

1. Signs of skin aging

2. Bronchitis

3. Colds and coughs

4. Fevers

5. Digestive tract infections

6. Gallbladder infections

7. Flatulence

8. Liver infections

9. Loss of appetite

10. Spasms

11. Urinary tract infections (UTI)

Why Is Dill Good For You?

Many nutritionists and medical professionals consider dill to be a superfood since it’s very good at fighting cancer and early-stage tumors, according to multiple studies.

Here’s the full list of the health benefits of dill:

1. Lowers Bad (LDL) Cholesterol Levels

2. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels

3. Dill Helps Treat The Common Cold

4. Gets Rid Of Indigestion and Bloating

5. Dill Kills Cancer Cells

Written by: Christopher Karam | ✔️ Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Riad M., M.D – G.P and Micheal B., M.D | Last Updated: 2020 June 20

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