Basil—this aromatic and beautiful plant is one of the world’s most famous herbs.
Grown in many parts of the world, basil is most commonly associated with Mediterranean dishes, but its original habitat is India, Asia, as well as parts of Africa. Basil belongs to the mint family, and comes in different forms such as sweet basil, red basil, long basil, short basil, cinnamon basil, and even clove basil and lemon basil. It was used by the Greeks and Romans as a medicinal plant.
So, what are the benefits that inclined ancient civilizations to use basil? Not only does it enhance the taste of food, but studies published in the journal Life Sciences show that it contains a high percentage of vitamin K (the key to blood clotting), as well as vitamin A (necessary for vision), and vitamin C (important for the immune system). It also contains zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium along with dietary fiber.
Other scientific studies indicate that basil has healing properties:
Basil contains strong aromatic oils such as ingenol and linalool, which help to combat inflammation.
Clinical studies published in the Journal of Nutrition and Cancer in 2013 have shown that basil contains substances that naturally help in the prevention of cancer, including skin cancer caused by chemicals, liver cancer, and lung cancer.
3. Anti-bacterial and Anti-microbial
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of basil is the protection against the growth of harmful bacteria. Studies suggest that basil extract helps prevent the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. When researchers from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Lodz in Poland tested the antibacterial activity of basil oil against E. coli strains collected from patients with different types of infections, the results showed that basil was effective in curbing the growth and spread of these harmful bacteria. Basil also has strong antimicrobial properties that help fight viruses and diseases.
4. Anti-stress and Anti-depressant
Studies have shown that basil has the ability to help the body relax and adapt to stress. Its benefits also extend to mental disorders and mood-related illnesses, including depression and anxiety. Basil works as an antidepressant because it positively affects brain function within the adrenal cortex, which helps stimulate the release of neurotransmitters that are responsible for making hormones that keep us feeling happy and energetic.
Basil enhances liver function and helps eliminate toxins from the body. A study published in the Journal of Food Medicine found that when mice were given basil leaves over five days, they experienced a significant boost in the production of enzymes that help detoxify and reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver that can cause liver disease.
Did you know that half a cup of fresh chopped basil (eight tablespoons) contains:
- 2 calories
- 0g of fat, protein and sugars
- 56mg of vitamin A (24% RDA)
- 88mg of vitamin K (108% RDA)
- 0.24 mg manganese (12% RDA)
- 4 mg of vitamin C (8% RDA)
Basil isn’t just delicious, it can help fight many diseases and keep you healthy. And because it does not contain many calories or fat, you can add a big handful of basil to your food without fear. Why not try our delicious and simple basil pasta recipe?References