Known as one of the main ingredients in pesto sauce and used often for its fragrant flavor, basil is one highly nutritious herb.
Belonging to the mint family of Lamiaceae, basil first originated in India. Grown in India for more than 5,000 years, basil or sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is called as Saint Joseph’s Wort in few English-speaking countries.
It is a culinary herb that is prominently used in Italian cuisine for making pesto sauce. It is also widely used in Thai cuisine, Indonesian, Vietnamese and many Southeast Asian cuisines. In India, basil leaves (tulsi) are used in making tea and they are used in plenty of home-made medicines for cold and cough, indigestion, skin ailments, etc. Indians like to eat basil raw as well for maintaining good health.
Basil has been derived from the Greek word called “basileus”, which means “king”.
While French consider it a royal herb, in India basil has been used for ayurvedic and medicinal properties.
There are more than 60 varieties of basil available which differ in smell, appearance and taste. While some leaves taste pungent, some taste sweet; depending upon the species. Let’s have a look at some of the health benefits associated with basil:
Provide relief in stomach cramps
Basil is not just a little herb that adds taste and texture to a dish. This wonderful herb has anti-inflammatory properties that helps reduce inflammation and swelling. This herb in your diet helps treat various other inflammatory bowel diseases such as stomach cramps, indigestion, constipation and more. Besides it also helps treat arthritis.
Powerhouse of nutrients
The nutrient dense basil is rich in iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, manganese, copper, potassium, folate, omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium.
Heart healthy food
Basil is an excellent source of carotenoids, beta-carotene and powerful antioxidants. Adding this herb to your meals help protect cells and prevent damage inflicted by free radicals present in the body and lower cholesterol.
Besides this herb is rich in magnesium that helps muscles and blood vessels to relax thereby improving blood flow. All this helps prevent heart disease and promote cardiovascular health. There are many low cholesterol recipes in which you can add this heart healthy herb to make it even more nutritious.
Promote healthy, nourishing skin
Basil leaves contain essential oils that helps prevent and treat dry skin, acne and psoriasis. Including its leaves have an anti-aging effect on your skin.
This super healthy herb boasts of flavonoids and antioxidant properties that protect cells from any damage caused by free radicals, thus aiding in the prevention of various types of cancer.
Basil boasts of anti-bacterial properties that help fight back bacteria and boost the immune system.
Basil is not just a flavorful herb to sprinkle on spaghetti or add to tomato-based sauces and pesto for that great flavor. This heart healthy herb packs a powerful punch when it comes to nutrients and health benefits. It prevents heart disease, reduces inflammation, promotes healthy skin and lots more.
What’s more, this herb is easily available in market and easy to include in various recipes. You can chop fragrant basil leaves and sprinkle them on just about anything right from salads to sauces. Use more of basil in your dishes. It not only adds a delightful taste to your recipes but makes your food more nutritious.
Kaitlyn Flores is a health enthusiast and fitness freak who writes on heart healthy recipes that help bring cholesterol down and prevent heart disease. Her articles aim to help people understand the benefits of eating healthy food and exercising.