Health Benefits of Basil
Basil is an herbal plant which produces fragrant leaves. The fresh leaves are added to cooked food such as pesto to add flavor and aroma. Dried basil leaves are added to food as a seasoning and also to add to the taste. Though fresh basil leaves taste better than dried, the nutritional value is higher in dried basil leaves.
There are several different types of basil and also many varieties. Some of the common ones are sweet basil, Thai basil, lemon basil, licorice basil and the holy basil or tulsi. Here is an interesting fact about tulsi or holy basil. It was used by the Greek Orthodox Church to prepare holy water.
There have been quite a number of researches made to determine the health benefits of basil. The results showed that basil contains antioxidant, antiviral and anti microbial properties. Basil has the potential in maintaining a healthy heart and blood pressure and in the prevention of certain cancers.
Although these findings are still not scientifically proven, it shouldn't come as a surprise since basil leaves contain a high amount of beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin and vitamin A. The other nutrients found in basil are calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, vitamin B, fiber, iron, manganese and potassium.
The nutrients in basil may protect your cells from free radical damage, grow new cells, strengthen your immune system and fight infections. Another reason why basil is good for you is because it is beneficial for your eye health because of the presence of lutein and zeaxanthin. Vitamin K helps in blood clotting and this will help stop bleeding. Some other health benefits of basil include help repair and grow your tissues and for your gum health.
Each variety of basil produces its own distinct flavor and aroma and they are made into essential oils for healing purposes. The people in India and those who practice Ayurvedic medicine have been using this herb as an alternative medicine for various ailments such as treating pimples, indigestion, flu, migraine, fever and colds, asthma and many more.
Many people who are aware of the health benefits of basil and are making their own home remedy of basil seed drink. In Malaysia for example, the sweet basil seed is called selasih. The tiny black seed are soaked in water and then drained and added to rose water syrup. Another way to get the health benefits of basil is to drink basil herbal tea. If you have them planted in your garden, take several leaves, crush them and steep them in hot water.
Since basil has a variety of chemical compounds, extracts from the leaves and flowers are made into essential oils for used in aromatherapy. Among the claims made or the benefits of basil oil are it helps calms the nervous system, treat nausea and improve respiratory problems.
Other than the leaves, basil seeds, and esential oils, holy basil supplements are available in the market. And so far there has not been report of any side effects of basil.
So whether you agree or not on basil health benefits, it's no harm adding fresh basil leaves to add flavor to your meals.