Basil is a widely used herb that is easy to find in almost every grocery store and farmers market. Aromatic plant (Ocimum basilicum) is a member of the Mint (Lamiaceae / Labiatae) family and is native to tropical regions throughout Asia and Africa. But many chefs around the world grow basil at home.
While you may be familiar with basil recipes and easy ways to use basil in cooking, most people are less familiar with the ways in which basil nutrition can enhance their health.
What is Basil?
Basil is a wonderful cooking herb that belongs to the family of mint, lavender and sage. Basil is a variation of its real botanical name, Ocimum Basilium. There are texts and other evidence that basil has been cultivated for 5,000 years and may have originated in the Hunan region of China. It is an herb that can be easily grown indoors and does not require a lot of sunlight. This has made it easier for people around the world to grow it in their homes and reap the benefits.
Basil has a very interesting story and many beliefs associated with it. It is believed to have magical powers for healing and empowering people during fasting. It was also thought to be a royal herb, used in embalming for the mummification process. The Greeks saw it as a symbol of mourning. The Indians believed that Basil was an herb that protected the poor and also a protector in the afterlife.
This herb was used in Crete to protect the devil and as a way of detecting chastity in a woman. There are also some interesting records that show that the ancient doctors believed that it was poisonous. After being introduced to the western world in 16ου century, became the center of many folklore. A Flemish doctor suggested that if the basil plant or leaf is left between two bricks it turns into a scorpion. Some superstitious people believed that breathing in perfume would make you feel like a scorpion. Greece is a land of myths and is known for its mythological creatures. One such creature is the basil who had a dragon-like appearance. It is believed that basil was the only cure for his bite.
Basil Health Benefits
The health benefits of basil leaves include supporting a healthy brain, managing arthritis, managing stress, slowing down aging, supporting bone health, managing epilepsy and boosting metabolism. Other benefits include relief from postmenopausal syndrome, energy supply, cancer prevention and eye health support.
You probably added basil to salads and pasta or used it to garnish poultry or seafood. But some people also use basil to treat certain medical conditions.
For example, basil has been used in topical gels to treat acne. In a clinical study, the researchers found that a combination of 5 percent basil essential oil and 3 percent sweet orange essential oil used daily for eight weeks helped cleanse the skin.However, it is not clear whether only basil can provide this advantage.
In addition, basil is sometimes used in aromatherapy to combat the symptoms of fatigue and exhaustion. A small study found that the combination of oils (peppermint, basil and helichrysum) helped increase the mental alertness of people who described themselves as burnt out and tired (source).
1. A healthy brain
Cognitive decline has become a rampant problem for the elderly today. However, there have been studies showing that consuming basil is very helpful in preventing cognitive impairment. Basil contains minerals such as manganese, which has been shown to increase the activity of electronic transmitters in the brain. This activity is related to mental reflexes. The herb also contains copper, which can help stimulate the mind – boosting its functionality.
Glycosylceramide metabolism is also associated with brain reflexes. Glycosylceramides also known as sphingolipids are essential molecules that act as a protective shield for the brain. This shield protects the brain from free radicals and oxidative stress.
2. Management of arthritis
Arthritis is a painful disease that often leads to physical disability. Basil has also been found to contain β-caryophyllin. These are related to effective pain management. They are also anti-inflammatory chemicals that help soothe the burning sensation in your joints caused by arthritis. A study in rats showed that they were free of arthritis due to the use of basil in their diet.
3. Stress management
Basil contains compounds such as adaptogens. These are compounds that help the body cope with both emotional and physical stress. Eating basil will help the body maintain a balanced function even during stressful events. Ocimum Sanctum or basil helps reduce hormone levels as well as corticosterone levels in the body.
4. Anti-aging properties
It is found to be full of antioxidants. Free radical damage to both the skin and the brain can be a major factor in the appearance and feel of aging. The antioxidants in the herb will help reduce the effects of free radicals on the cells and prevent the body and mind from enduring oxidative stress.
5. Strong bones
Loss of bone density leads to fragile bone growth and several injuries and bone-related physical conditions. This is especially true for women because osteoporosis is more common in women than men. As nutritional data show that basil is an excellent source of vitamin K, it is extremely useful in maintaining healthy bones. Vitamin K helps in better absorption of calcium.
6. Epilepsy management
Its extract has been observed to reduce spasmodic activity in the brain. Another animal study shows that eugenol in basil leaves is also beneficial for the nervous system.
7. Helps in metabolism
A good metabolic rate is essential to keeping the body lean and healthy. Basil is a good source of manganese, which helps the body release enzymes that are beneficial in the metabolism of amino acids, cholesterol and carbohydrates. It also helps with the metabolism of glucose-related vitamins.
8. Postmenstrual syndrome
This period of the month can be extremely painful for at least 3 in 4 women. Experiencing cramps, depression and fatigue is a postmenopausal syndrome. However, the manganese in basil helps relieve these symptoms by balancing your hormones. This in turn helps reduce stress and fatigue.
9. Energy Source
It contains copper, which is a vital producer of adenosine triphosphate. It is a compound that helps eliminate the effects of fatigue and exhaustion. It is often recommended to use basil in smoothies to keep energy levels high.
Contains volatile compounds that have an antimicrobial nature. In basil these volatile compounds are found as essential oil. There are many other essential oils, such as eugenol, that help prevent the effects of fungi and bacteria.
11. Antioxidants for cancer
Contains phenolic and anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants. These have been observed to protect the body from reactive oxygen species which are the main cause of cancer cell formation.
12. Healthy eyes
Contains beta-carotene. This is an essential compound that helps prevent muscle degeneration. Basil is also a good source of vitamin A and ascorbic acid, which is known to treat dry eye syndrome and Stardgart disease.
Basil can also be used as an appetite stimulant or as a diuretic. Breastfeeding women can use it to stimulate lactation, and some pregnant women use it before and after giving birth to improve blood circulation. There is a lack of clinical evidence to support the safety and efficacy of these uses (source).
Basil Nutrition Facts
There are almost no calories in basil. One serving of bright green leaves is about 2 tablespoons chopped. In a fresh portion, there are less than 2 basil calories per serving. The calories of dried basil are about the same, but the portion size is smaller (about 1 teaspoon).
As you might expect, because basil is very low in calories, there are also very few grams of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Almost all calories in basil come from carbohydrates, mainly in the form of fiber. One serving of dried basil contains about 1 gram of carbohydrates and less than a serving of fresh basil.
Consuming basil will not significantly increase the intake of vitamins or minerals. However, you get a healthy dose of vitamin K and vitamin A, a little folate, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
When you buy fresh basil, you will find it in the production section of your market. Choose a bunch of basil with large, bright, green aromatic leaves that do not contain dark spots or flowers. You can also find basil that has its roots still attached. Roots can help basil stay fresh at home longer.
To store the basil, place the sheets between sheets of paper towels and place them in a plastic bag. Store basil in the refrigerator, where it should stay fresh for about four to five days.
You can store dried basil together with other spices in a cool dark place. Dried basil lasts a good about two to three years.
Using basil is easy. Many dishes go well with spicy, peppery and somewhat sweet herb flavors.
You can also use basil in drinks. Try Sparkler with strawberry basil or simply add basil and a few slices of orange to sparkling or flat water.
Basil Side Effects
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), basil is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used in amounts commonly found in food.In addition, according to a comprehensive database of natural remedies, the above-ground parts of basil are likely to be safe for adults, children and pregnant and lactating women when used to flavor foods (source).
However, a plant or oil can be dangerous if basil oil is used orally for a long time for medical reasons because it contains estragole, which can be harmful to humans.
Basil oil and extract can increase bleeding, slow blood clotting and possibly worsen bleeding disorders. For this reason, experts recommend that you stop using basil at least two weeks before the operation. In addition, people taking blood thinners should talk to their healthcare provider before using basil oil or extract.
Finally, basil extracts can lower blood pressure. If you are taking hypertensive medicines to lower your blood pressure, you may want to discuss the use of basil oil or extracts with your healthcare provider.
Common questions about Sasil
Can you freeze basil?
Yes. You can flash individual basil leaves in a flash on a plate and then place the frozen leaves in a resealable bag for later use.
Are there different varieties of basil?
There are many different varieties of basil, including Thai, purple, lemon, Greek and cardinal. The variety you see most often on the market is Genovese basil.
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