Health benefits of basil that you shouldn’t miss


health benefits of basil

Health benefits of basil: Basil is a fragrant leafy green herb, a native to Asia and a member of the mint family. It has been cultivated since 5000 years ago.

It is an aromatic herb used to flavor dishes in a variety of cuisines worldwide. Sweet basil, for example, is used in many Mediterranean and Italian cuisines to make pesto and add flavor to salads, pizza, and other dishes.

Basil is very important in Asian medicine. Over the years, it has been used to help many health conditions because of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties therein.

The health benefits of basil in this article include; helping cancer, fighting oxidative stress, helping indigestion, boosting mental health, fighting infections, preserving food, skincare, reducing inflammation, reducing high blood pressure, and regulating blood sugar.

What are the different types of basil?

Whether you need basil to put in the garden, culinary use or medicinal use, there are many different varieties of basil you can pick on. Below are some of the different varieties of basil

Thai sweet basil

 

sweet basil

Lemon basil

Holy basil

Greek basil

African basil

Cinnamon basil

Purple basil

What are the health benefits of basil? 

It is surprising that most of the people who eat basil don’t know about its health benefits; they only know the culinary uses of basil. To be honest, as you enjoy basil, you are actually doing your body a great favor. Not only does it taste great, but it also has amazing health benefits you ought to know about. Below are the health benefits of basil.

1. Basil fights oxidative stress

Oxidative stress is the miss-match between free radicals and antioxidants in the body which can lead to cell and tissue damage. Oxidative stress occurs through metabolism and the body’s natural processes. Long term oxidative stress causes chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

2. Basil help cancer

The phytochemicals in basil have antioxidant properties that help to fight certain types of cancer such as skin, liver and lung cancers.

3. Basil helps stomach upset and indigestion

Basil is said to facilitate optimal digestion according to healing foods by DK publishing. The eugenol in basil leaves has an anti-inflammatory effect on the digestive tract. Eugenol helps to balance acid and ensures that the body has the right Ph.  

4. Basil boosts mental health

A type of basil called holy basil is linked to alertness and memory boosting. Basil contains natural substances called adaptogens. These help the body manage stress which brings about mental balance.

5. Basil can help to preserve food

The antibacterial property of basil can help to fight a variety of microorganisms that mostly contaminate the food. Therefore with basil, you are sure of fresh food.

6. Basil fights infection in your body

In the same vein, since basil has antimicrobial properties, it can be used to fight against bacterial infection in our bodies such as urinary infections skin infections and more.

In one study, where researchers applied basil oil to some bacterium called E.coli, the results showed that basil oil was highly active against the bacterium.

7. Basil reduces blood pressure

Adding fresh basil leaves to your salads or soups can help to lower blood pressure. The chemical compound eugenol in basil can help the blockage of blood vessels as well as relaxing the muscles; which eventually leads to a drop in the blood pressure. 

8. Basil reduces inflammation 

Inflammation is how the body reacts to the damage of tissues and infection. That said, Chronic inflammation can lead to diseases like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis due to oxidative stress. Research shows that anti-inflammatory properties of basil oil can actually treat diseases caused by oxidative stress.

9.Basil for skincare

If you ever wanted a natural remedy for your skin, give thanks to the herb basil.  The herb has a high concentration of vitamin K; which is one of the vitamins for skin health. Vitamin K helps eczema, reduces skin redness and inflammation. A face mask of fresh basil leaves can open the skin pores to remove dirt and impurities.

10. Basil regulates blood sugar

Including fresh basil leaves may be one of the natural ways to regulate blood sugar. The hypoglycemic properties lower blood sugar which eventually helps diabetes.

In one studyOpens in a new tab., using rats, it was found out that basil extracts reduce high blood sugar levels as well as treating its long term effects.

The article about herbs to enhance male and female infertilityOpens in a new tab. may also be good for you. 

Having looked at the health benefits of basil, how then do we include basil in our diet?

Apart from adding flavor to our dishes, we have observed that basil has a number of healing and medicinal properties. 

Here is how we can tap into the health benefits of basil

1. Make basil tea

  • Holy basil is the best variety to make basil tea and it is very good for stomach upset
  • Add 6 to 8 sprigs of basil to hot water and cover and let the leaves steep for about 10 minute
  • After 10 minutes, remove the leaves and enjoy basil tea

2. Add basil to dishes like salads and sandwich

A hand full of fresh basil leaves will make your salads very interesting

3. Make basil pesto

  • Add 1 cup of chopped fresh basil, 1 cup parmesan cheese, ½ pine nuts, and 5 cloves garlic to a food processor
  • Blend while adding olive oil until smooth
  • Enjoy the pesto on fish, grilled meat and more

4. Basil butter

  • Add 1 cup of chopped basil to 1 pound of butter in a bowel
  • Use a spoon and stir to distribute through the butter
  • You can use basil butter to flavor soups, fish or bread

5. Herbal vinegar

  • Put fresh basil leaves in a clean bottle and add vinegar
  • Close the bottle and leave to settle for several weeks
  • After several weeks, remove the herbs and store the basil-infused vinegar in an airtight bottle

6. Vegetable soup

You can add chopped basil to tomato soup, summer squash soup, and other several soups

7. Use basil with pizza

Sprinkle fresh basil leaves on a hot pizza

8. Add basil to fruit juice

Basil mixes well with fruits like strawberries, mango, lemon and more

You may be wondering if basil leaves are eaten raw

As a matter of fact, basil leaves are used in cooking though some people eat them ray. It should be noted that; while you may want to eat raw basil leaves, some basil varieties are bitter.

What are the side effects of using basil?

Just like most herbs, basil is safe when moderately consumed. However, consuming high amounts of basil comes with health impediments. Let us look at some of the side effects of basil below.

1. Basil contains high levels of vitamin K which is a key component for blood clotting. High amounts of basil can interfere with blood thinners.

2. Basil may cause allergies like swellings and hives to some people when they come into contact with the herb. Such people are advised to use basil supplements rather than fresh basil leaves.

3. We have observed above that basil is used to lower blood pressure. However, with people taking blood pressure-lowering drugs, basil may lower blood pressure do dangerous levels. It is advisable to consult your doctor on the use of basil if you are using blood pressure-lowering drugs

4. Holy basil is said to have a negative impact on sperm count and production.

5. Basil oils and extracts may increase bleeding risks during a surgical operation. It is, therefore, better to stop the consumption of basil ahead of time if you have a pending operation.

6. The chemical compound estragole in basil was found to cause liver cancer in mice

7. In some cases, basil can also lower blood sugar levels and this can cause problems in the central nervous system. Symptoms can be weakness, dizziness, and seizures.

Does basil aid weight loss?

The herb basil and holy basil in particular consist of substances called adaptogens. These help the body to adapt to stress.  This reduces craving and eventually reduces food intake. As we all know, most people tend to overeat due to hunger-induced stress. When the calorie intake is reduced, weight loss is the likely end result.

How do we keep basil fresh longer?

Most herbs got from stores or supermarkets have their leaves withered and fragrance (sweet aroma) lost a few days after taking them home. This is due to poor storage of fresh herbs. Here are some of the ways one can keep basil herb fresh longer.

1. Using glass jars of water

 

health benefits of basil
Image by Elle Katie from Pixabay
  • Trim the stems and place the herb in the jar of water
  • You may cover the herb with aplastic bag and place it on a raised surface or counter
  • This will keep the turgid basil leaves fresh longer

2.Storing in the refrigerator

health benefits of basil
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
  • Wrap the basil leaves in a paper towel
  • Place the towel in a plastic bag
  • Then put in a refrigerator
  • This will preserve the taste and aroma

What herbs blend well with basil?

In order to have a healthier diet and interesting cooking as well, one has to be adventurous. When you venture outside your comfort zone, you will realize the various foods that go well with basil and the spices that mix well with basil. You can use basil in dried form but it is best when it is fresh. The most commonly known pairing of basil is as below.

1. When basil is used fresh combines well with
  • chives
  • Mint
  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Watercress
2. when Basil is cooked combines well with
  • Garlic
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Bay
Bottom line

Including fresh basil into your diet will give you a number of health benefits ranging from heart health, skin and blood cholesterol. However, extracts and essential oils have a high concentration of chemical compounds like eugenol, which have potential side effects on our health.

 


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