BASIL – why should you have at least one pot full of it? What is amazing basil leaves health benefits for everyone? Basil: An amazing remedy for many health problems. This plant is a spice that has a fantastic effect on health and the body.
It relieves colds, contributes to the health of the heart, kidneys, eyes, and teeth, and helps treat various types of cancer.
Origin of basil
The word basil has Greek origins meaning royal (basilicon). The king of herbs, basil, is one of the oldest popular plants, rich in many phytonutrients that maintain good health.
This prized plant is considered a “sacred herb” in many cultures around the world. Basil originates from Iran, India, and other tropical regions in Asia.
This shrubby annual is grown for its medicinal leaves and seeds. Basil grows best in warm, tropical conditions.
The fully grown plant reaches an average height of one meter. The leaves are light green, silky, approximately 6 cm long and about 2.5 cm wide, with the opposite arrangement.
Also, the flowers are quite large, white, and arranged in a row. There are several types of basil.
The Mediterranean variety is usually called mild basil and has light green leaves, unlike Asian basil, which has large, hairy stems with pink, purple or red leaves and a strong taste. There is also lemon basil, which has a “lemon flavor”.
Basil in the diet
Basil is popular as fresh food, aromatic dried herb (spice), for making various sauces, but it is also used as a tea.
It is most often found in dishes originating from Italian cuisine – pizzas, salads, pasta, etc.
Although it is often used in the kitchens of the Far East, where it is believed to have originated.
Nutritional values in 100 grams of basil are:
In this article, we will see why we should keep the traditional use and cultivation of this herb.
5 Basil leaves health benefits
Basil can offer various beneficial effects as part of the diet, as an herbal remedy, but also as an essential oil.
Traditional medicine has used it for snake bites, colds, and various types of inflammation.
Basil in the diet provides us with a range of micronutrients, primarily vitamin K, calcium, and a range of antioxidant phytochemicals.
For example, eugenol, which provides the aroma of cloves, then lemon, which gives a typical slightly sour taste.
Basil preserves the health of the teeth
For those who suffer from gum problems, bad breath, and perishable teeth, basil is a great ally in maintaining oral health.
The antibacterial and antibiotic properties of basil help prevent various oral diseases.
Basil has a nutritional and antioxidant composition against inflammation
The nutritional composition of basil consists mainly of the carotenoid antioxidants beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin, then vitamins A and K, but also some of the B group.
The mineral content is lower and generally consists of calcium and less iron.
Due to the smaller quantities in which it is consumed, the benefit in terms of our health is mainly due to the rich antioxidant composition that basil has.
Antioxidants are components that prevent oxidative damage to cells by molecules called free radicals.
According to studies, to maintain health, the body needs a balance between the amounts of free radicals and the intake of antioxidants.
An imbalance between them can lead to increased levels of oxidative stress, which leads to the development of chronic inflammatory processes.
In the long run, they can cause more chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular, rheumatoid, malignant diseases, diabetes, etc.
The body produces some of the antioxidants, but it is very important that we get them through the diet. The main antioxidants that basil provides are anthocyanins and the mentioned carotenoids.
Basil can help prevent some malignant diseases, and it is also good for the liver.
A 2013 study examined the effect of different types of basil on cancer. Researchers have concluded that its phytochemicals may help prevent certain types of malignancies – skin, liver and lung.
This is thought to be due to the strong antioxidant power of the phytochemicals of basil.
Also, it affects the expression of some genes on mutated cells, and even causing their death and slow proliferation.
Other studies show similar effects, but the research is preclinical or animalistic, so more human studies are needed.
Experts link the positive effect on the liver with the antioxidant power of basil.
Basil leaves health benefits for skin
According to a 2011 study, basil has shown properties that can help reduce the negative effects on the skin caused by the aging process.
Basil-based creams in the laboratory have been shown to improve skin hydration. Basil reduces the roughness of the skin, as well as reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
There is no evidence that eating basil can directly contribute to skin health.
But given its antioxidant composition, as part of a varied diet, it is possible to have a positive effect on the skin.
Basil leaves health benefits on mental health
Psychological stress can contribute to the greater production of free radicals in the body. Probably due to this potential effect of basil, its powerful antioxidants are responsible.
According to a meta-research from 2014, basil has properties according to which it can act on:
- relieve stress, anxiety, and depression
- increase in concentration
- prevention of memory loss with aging
- improve sleep
Researchers say that the effects of basil can even be compared to some antidepressants.
However, more studies are needed in this direction, and it should be noted that the positive effects are with regular consumption of larger doses of extracts of this herb.
Basil is a plant that helps with diabetes and cardiovascular disease
Traditional medicine often recommends basil when treating blood sugar problems. Recent research suggests that basil extract may help regulate blood glucose levels.
Additionally, there is evidence that basil leaves may help with the long-term effects of high blood sugar.
Until these allegations about leaves are confirmed, basil extract can be applied and beneficial to some people.
Through its antioxidant composition, basil can also contribute to heart health. According to one study, eugenol, one of the main phytochemicals of basil, can block calcium channels in the body.
This practically means that it successfully lowers blood pressure – otherwise a major risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases.
Here are some other positive effects of basil on our body:
- may lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides
- to have a relaxing effect on blood vessels, with a similar effect to aspirin
- to have antibiotic action, ie to inhibit the growth of some pathogenic bacteria and to prevent caries, but also to be used as a preservative for certain types of food.
Selection and storage of basil
Basil can be grown in a pot or in a backyard garden, with fresh leaves at hand whenever needed.
In stores, choose fresh, organically grown basil instead of dried, as it has better quality and better taste.
Fresh basil leaves have a pronounced green color and should not have darkened or yellowed parts.
Dried basil leaves and seeds can also be found in stores, but sun-dried or artificially heated basil can have significantly reduced amounts of vitamin C and carotenoids.
Fresh basil should be stored in the refrigerator, in airtight containers.
Dried basil should be stored in a tightly closed glass container, in a cool, dark, and dry place, where it can stay fresh for up to 6 months.
How to use basil in the kitchen?
Wash fresh basil with cold tap water or soak it in a bowl of water for a few minutes to remove any dirt or pesticide residue.
To preserve the aroma and taste completely, basil is usually added to recipes at the last minute, as prolonged cooking results in the evaporation of essential oils.
Basil leaves are used to add flavor to any vegetable, chicken, or roast dish. Basil is often used to prepare dishes with tomatoes and eggs, soups, stews, and salads.
Tips for preparing basil
Fresh or dried basil is used to make soups and other dishes. Chopped fresh basil adds freshness to green and fruit salads.
Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto, a green sauce that is added to soups, vegetables, fish, and pasta in Mediterranean cuisine. A drink made from basil seeds is popular in many countries in Asia.
Basil is one of the oldest popular plants, which is also called the royal plant. Rich in a number of phytonutrients that maintain good health.
This prized and popular plant is considered a “sacred herb” in many cultures around the world. In terms of the benefits of basil, they are really great for our health.
Basil can help in many areas of improving cardiovascular health, teeth, skin, mental health and other benefits listed above in the article.
In any case, basil is a healthy herb that should not be underestimated and should be used to maintain the health of our body.