Benefits of Basil

Basil, a favoured herb of the mint family, is a cupboard staple in most households. Fresh, dry, cooked – it provides the splash of green on your margarita, pepperiness to your carbonara, and it’s what gives the pesto that rich, delicious flavour. Originating from India, South Asia, and Africa, basil is today eaten and enjoyed across the world. But did you know of the many health benefits of basil? Packed with nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants, basil is not only a flavour additive – but has the potential to give your immune system and body a real boost. Read on to learn why you should use more basil.So, what’s in basil?

Such a peppery and aromatic herb, it might be easy to assume that the key benefit of basil lies in the taste of it. But the truth is, basil is full of goodness, including vitamin K, A, and C, as well as manganese, copper, calcium, iron, lutein, beta-carotene, ursolic acid, folate, omega 3 fats and magnesium.

Antibacterial and antimicrobial properties

Numerous studies have proven the antimicrobial properties of basil. Essential basil oils are effective in restricting the further growth bacteria such as staph, listeria, E. coli, and others, and has also been shown to inhibit some bacteria that has shown antibiotic resistance.

Cognitive decline

Manganese is a mineral that strengthens the electronic transmitter activity in the brain. Oxidative stress plays a key role in early stages of Alzheimer’s, which basil can halt with Vitamin A, which works as an antioxidant.

Fever and inflammation

The next time you reach for ibuprofen or aspirin for their anti-inflammatory effects, perhaps consider chowing down on some basil, too. These over-the-counter drugs replicate the effects of a compound found in basil, namely eugenol. Eugenol inhibits an enzyme in the body called cyclooxygenase.

Stress and depression

There’s no denying that stress is on the rise, and basil might be the hero we need. Containing adaptogens, basil may help bodies better handle physical and emotional stressors. Holy basil has proven to be especially effective.

Cardiovascular health

Basil is rich in magnesium, which makes blood vessels and muscles alike relax – reducing the risk of heart spasms. Being rich in vitamin A, it not only helps strengthen the lining of the organs (blood vessels included), but it also prevents cholesterol from oxidising in the blood stream. Because cholesterol only starts building up once it’s oxidised, eating healthy serving of basil can prevent bad fat build-up.

Diabetes

Basil may assist in alleviating type 2 diabetes through improving insulin activity in the body, which in turn lowers your blood sugar. Studies found that after a month, rats fed basil extract experienced a 24 percent decrease in their blood sugar level.

Cancer

While it’s still early days, basil oils have been proven highly effective in inhibiting lung tumour incidences in mice induced by carcinogens. Being high in lutein, a diet high in basil has been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer.

And many more

Stomach spasms, loss of appetite, bronchitis, intestinal gas, fluid retention, warts, head colds, kidney conditions, worms, blood circulation, breast milk production, and the list goes on. Science is only starting to scratch the surface of why the Greek named the herb basilikhon (“royal”), and why it has been revered and been a symbol of love and hospitality from India to Italy.

Basil goes well with sweet as well as savoury, making it an herb you can incorporate in most meals to take advantage of all its health benefits. Brew it into tea, put it in our pasta, soup, pizza, sandwich, smoothie, cocktail. Option for fresh when you can but dried still holds many of the same health benefits – either way, make basil a new staple in your diet for a real health boost.