Basil is an antibacterial, anti-fungal, antioxidant, parasite-resistant herb. It has the unusual capability to metabolize certain toxins that are harmful to humans and can also act as an effective antibiotic. It also contains significant amounts of oily compounds with bioactive properties that include citronellol, eugenol, and many others which function in plant defense mechanisms for the attraction of pollinators or mechanical irritants against local pests.
Basil may be one of the more potent herbs for protection against bacteria because it is so high in antioxidants. The oil found in basil possesses good anti-inflammatory qualities and benefits the cardiovascular system without adverse effects on blood pressure when consumed regularly over a period of time.
Basil has been shown to have a protective effect on the stomach’s mucosal tissue which lines the stomach, so basil is good for preventing gastric ulcers.
There are also other compounds in basil that has preventive effects against chronic illnesses such as Cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Add some fresh crushed garlic to your next batch of pesto, and you’ll be adding an extra layer of protection from these complications. Ultimately, nothing is more powerful than nurturing your inner garden through high nutrient food! Fresh organic vegetables are at the foundation of everything we eat, but dried herbal supplements still contribute significantly to health with their many biologically important phytonutrients.
Basil is known for being the most widely used herb in Italian cooking. Commonly, basil is sprinkled over tomato-based sauces to garner complimenting flavors. It also works well tossed with fresh green beans, cooked green vegetables, or pasta. There are many things one can do with basil so long as it’s enjoyed on its own merits!
What is basil?
Basil is a green, sweet, and spicy herb. It has a delicate anise-like aroma. Basil leaves come from the same species as mint and sage. Thus, it shares their pungent medicinal qualities. Ground up into a paste with a little water or olive oil, they can be used to reduce inflammation in any part of the body that is swollen or painful, including, especially, the gut following an attack of indigestion or stomach cramps due to stress or menstruation.
Basil is often paired with tomatoes for dishes like Caprese salad, gazpacho soup, bruschetta toppings, and pasta sauces. Basil works very well with cheese dishes like pizza Margherita.
Basil is the most common species of sweet basil used in European and North African cuisine. It has a cinnamon-like flavor that enhances other flavors in Mediterranean dishes. Basil leaves are typically not eaten raw, but cooked or added to oils, vinegar, or tomato sauces (where it can simmer for up to 3 hours).
Basil’s mild licorice flavor means it does well with many different types of food! You can cook it in pasta sauce or blend it into pesto; dry it out and use it as an herb; mash up some leaves and mix them in your salad dressing; crush dried basil leaves when making curry powder.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) with coriander (Coriandrum sativum) can be used interchangeably in most cases, for most types of dishes, but the flavors are different; bergamot-scented leaves are more often used in European cooking than Asian cooking.
Basil lends tartness to tomato sauces and other dishes that use tomatoes or tomatoey ingredients like tomato paste or sun-dried tomatoes. It pairs well with fish, particularly oily fish like salmon. Italians call these “di Pesce”. One way to fix this dish without having any artificial preservatives or chemical flavorings is to use fresh herbs.
How to grow basil:
Basil likes to be grown in pots, but the best way of growing basil is to plant it on some ground that receives some warm sun. Hydroponic basil takes more work and care than regular soil basil, though it’s worth noting that hydroponics provide you with a perpetual supply of fresh herbs!
Basil doesn’t like wet dirt. If you get too much water near your containers, your plants will wilt and die so make sure it’s on the well-drained ground or potting mix which allows the excess water to drain away quickly. Darker leaves are usually spicier because the chlorophylls which give them their green color also contain flavonoids that act as antioxidants.
Moreover, simply plant basil seeds in moist potting mix and water to keep them damp as they sprout, then place the pot in the good sun to help them grow. Once it is big and full you’ll know because you’ll see flowers, harvest it like spring onions or radishes or whatever vegetable you like harvesting, giving off lower leaves as you do so, rinse well and wrap loosely for the fridge if not using within 2 days.
Basil plant care is pretty simple. All you need to do is keep them warm, moist and feed them regularly. If the basil starts to slow down in the growth process, boost their water supply with compost tea. Leaves can also be harvested anytime during the two weeks for optimal flavor by cutting off leaves at the stem with a sharp knife at least 3 inches above soil level.
Basil likes warm conditions; anything 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit (16-24 °C) should work well for this herb indoors or out during winter months before planting outside in springtime when nighttime temperatures are reliably above 55 degrees F (13 °F). They like full sun to dappled shade, but not deep shade if it’s cold.
Chemical compounds in basil:
The chemical compounds in basil include Linalool, Thymeleaf Extract, Alpha-Terpineol, Limonene. The essential oil in basil consists of about 57% pinene, beta-pinene, myrcene, camphene, caryophyllene, and borneol.
In addition to this, basil is an herb that is rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Its strong taste and aroma make it very valuable as a seasoning to foods we don’t like the flavor of thick soups, and because of its high vitamin and antioxidant content.
Basil has the ability to complement the flavor of dishes like soups by balancing their flavors, so rather than adding many other herbs or spices you only need basil to achieve this effect. It also lightens heavy foods such as tomato sauces that can be too heavy with oil or cream as well as grounding lighter dishes such as Insalata di Fagioli which would otherwise be difficult to digest.
The thymol in basil has antifungal properties and inhibits the growth of food spoilage yeast in meat products. It is also used in cosmetics for preserving fragrances. The oxide in basil can be used as an insecticide.
Basil also has lauric acid which has antibiotic properties. It prevents the bacteria from reproducing. This makes it useful as an anti-bacterial treatment on open wounds.
There are many chemical compounds found in basil, including linalool, 1,8-cineole, camphor, and a-terpineol. These chemical constituents impart not only an intense aromatic flavor but also various therapeutic properties such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Advantages of eating basil:
Basil has a multitude of health benefits. It aids digestion by promoting the production of bile, prevents constipation, guards against cancer, and is also an essential ingredient in many curries because it’s thought to stimulate the appetite! The basil in your curry can help cool you down in summer with its cooling properties. Plus it boosts immunity, thus providing a healthy gut – which will, in turn, give you energy!
Basil leaves are deliciously edible for humans when fresh or dried and they also have a long history as a symbol of love and good luck. In India where Basil is called Tulsi, they use branches from the plant on top of their homes for protection against spiders, snakes, and scorpions.
There are many advantages to eating basil (and not just for cooking). Basil is a calorie-free spice that doubles as a breath freshener. It’s loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients, has antibacterial properties, can improve digestion, and more!
Basil packs some health benefits due to its high antioxidant content. The plant also promotes good digestion and respiratory functions so it’s often included in cooking and medicine. Compounds in Basil prevent microbial growth which makes it difficult for bacteria to form colonies on the skin of the hands while handling food. These properties make Basil an ideal herb for cutting boards or utensils that come into contact with foods such as cheese or cutting vegetables.
Research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that dishes prepared with basil leaves may boost antioxidant levels and improve blood sugar control.
Basil is a wonderful addition to any dish, but it’s particularly good for you because it naturally contains both vitamin K and manganese. The benefits reach beyond those two nutrients though; research has found information on why this herb was originally given such high praise as an “elixir”. Basil plants contain healthy properties like rosmarinic acid phenolic acid, which is closely related to the anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, khellin phenolic compound which can lower cholesterol absorption, chlorogenic acid(phenol)which has been associated with weight loss.
Basil reduces oxidative stress:
Studies show that basil enhances antioxidant capability and reduces free radicals through increasing the activity of cellular antioxidants.
Basil contains a rich variety of antioxidants, including rosmarinic acid and ursolic acid, which protect cells from oxidative damage. Basil also contains flavanols, which are potent antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. The leaves of this herb are also an excellent source of polyphenols called flavonoids which have been shown to support normal aging by protecting against inflammation and oxidation in cells throughout the bloodstream.
Research shows that basil reduces oxidative stress in mice with no side effects.
Oxidative stress is the harmful biochemical mechanism in cells, and one of the most important contributors to aging and all sorts of diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular disease for example. This study found that there is potential therapeutic use for basil to stabilize abnormally high levels of oxidative stress. Generally speaking, chronic exposure to chemicals like alcohol or tobacco are major causes of excessive levels of oxidative stress, which may lead to cell damage or even death. The protective effects observed for antioxidant foods are due to their ability to inhibit oxidation within the body without causing any unwanted side effects. By eating these types of foods you can help protect your cells from damage by free radicals.
Studies show that on days that basil is heavily consumed, the level of oxidative stress significantly reduces. Some scientists hypothesize that it’s because basil contains significant amounts of antioxidants like rosmarinic acid and apigenin (and other yet-to-be-named health benefits).
Basil reduces your risk of cancer:
Numerous studies have independently found that the consumption of fresh basil by laboratory animals helps to reduce their risk of cancer. Reporting in Chemico-Biological Interactions, Dr. Anand Pal says, “There are many oral anti-cancer agents currently under research with most having obvious limitations including undesired medicinal effects on normal tissues or expensive manufacturing procedures.”
Pal succeeded in finding a safe, affordable way to administer cancer fighting substances through ingestion of an already commonly consumed food product. He gave Swiss albino mice the opportunity to eat field grown wild leaves freshly harvested from their own free roaming area three times per week for two months. The result? Significant reductions in tumor size and growth rate as well as decrease rates for pre-cancer.
Furthermore, basil helps reduce the risk of cancer by boosting your immune system. The basil plant contains several healing compounds, including rutin, palmetto and rosmarinic acid. However, it is not yet known if these constituents are responsible for basil’s medicinal properties or if other nutrients in basil have been overlooked.
Basil helps reduce high blood sugar levels:
Basil is very effective in reducing blood sugar and A1c levels, and it’s most useful when used before a meal – especially for people with diabetes or anyone who is at risk of developing diabetes.
Basil’s effects on blood sugar level come from the high doses of antioxidants like rosmarinic acid (which also contains anti-inflammatory properties) and caffeic acid phenyl ester that help prevent excess oxidation of proteins. Basil is especially helpful for people with type 2 diabetes because basil can lower post-prandial levels in ways similar to some pharmaceutical drugs.
Individuals with hyperglycemia may experience a decrease in basal insulin secretion and pancreatic beta cell proliferation when they eat basil.
Basil helps reduce your risk of heart disease:
Basil has been shown to do this by promoting platelet aggregation, reducing oxidized low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and preventing oxidation of reduced-low density lipoprotein induced by periodontal disease
This is because basil contains antioxidants that are cardioprotective. Cardio protection is important because heart disease can lead to atherosclerosis or plaque buildup in your arteries that may burst or cause a heart attack — either way fatal without medical intervention. The recommended intake for prevention purposes is one tablespoon per day; also an excellent source of Vitamin K (which helps prevent blood clots), manganese (needed for good bone health), riboflavin (a vitamin B2 needed for cell health) and folic.
In a recent study, people who ate more basil had lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol, which is linked with an increased risk of heart disease.
Cooking the leaves—whole or finely chopped—in fat for a few minutes also helps to activate their flavor. Pairing them in tomato sauce with spaghetti squash, sundried tomatoes and olives will create a stack of flavors at once savory, chewy and sweet.
Basil does help reduce your risk of heart disease if you cook it before you consume it.
High heat changes basil’s chemical composition in just the right way that its antioxidant properties are made more available to the human system when absorbed by ingestion. This means that when cooked, basil is capable of doing what many other foods cannot- combat free radicals in our body and form cancer fighting phytonutrients which can be used up or excreted in great numbers by our kidneys, liver, and skin. But when eaten raw, basil is reduced to sugars and starches with lovely flavor notes but few health benefits for humans – so enjoy your pesto!
Eating basil regularly improves mental health:
Basil is an aromatic herb, which has been shown to improve clarity, attention span and motor skills in young people who are healthy. But it also may help older adults with memory impairment who suffer from the effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers found that at least some subjects experienced enhancements for their mood and anxiety levels by stimulating activity of serotonin neurotransmitters.
Furthermore, it is hypothesized that the consumption of basil may relieve or prevent onset of depression-like behavior through the modulation of depression-associated pathways in the brain, with serotonin playing a role in producing this effect. Further research is needed to investigate whether eating basil produces antidepressant effects stem from its high concentration of tryptophan or other bioactive compounds which regulate mood and emotion.
Basil reduces inflammation:
Basil is anti-inflammatory, both internally and externally. It’s a powerful herb with many benefits to prevent inflammation, including improving joint health and soothe sore muscles.
Basil, when combined with omega-3 fatty acids, helps decrease the production of proinflammatory cytokines. A reduction in proinflammatory cytokine level is associated with less pain and swelling during healing.
It is generally considered a good idea to eat basil in moderation. Eating too much basil, however, can cause gas and stomach pain. Too much of anything is not good for your body.