Basil for Your Pesto, Basil for Your Health

Basil is a popular herb commonly used as a spice to some dishes. It is a great addition to a couple of pasta recipes. Characterized by round but slightly pointed shape, basil leaves are fragrant, making it the perfect ingredient for pesto. For those who are not familiar, pesto is the mixture of basil, parmesan cheese and pine nuts.

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Aside from giving some of your meals a savory taste, did you know that basils are also beneficial for your health? In fact, The World’s Healthiest Foods deem it one of the most nutritious herbs since it contains high levels of vitamins and minerals. The website also lauds its health-protecting effects as a result of the flavonoids and volatile oil-content of the herb.

The outlet revealed that half a cup of chopped fresh basil leaves contain 98% of Vitamin K based on the the %DV. It is also found to contain 12% manganese, 9% copper, 6% Vitamin A, and 5% Vitamin C. It also has 4% each of calcium, folate and iron; and 3% each of magnesium and omega-3 fats.

Flavonoids are active constituents that provide protection for the body on the cellular level. Basil contains two types of water-soluble flavonoids: vicenin and orientin. These two are found to be beneficial for white blood cells. Studies also found that water-soluble flavonoids can also help protect the chromosomes in the body from the dangers posed by radiation and oxygen.

Aside from that, a study in the Journal of Microbiology Methods published in 2003 found that the essential oil from basil can effectively inhibit breeding of some species of pathogenic bacteria that have mutated into becoming resistant to antibiotic medicines. Among these bacteria are those under the genera Enterococcus, Staphylococcus, and Pseudomonas. Though they may be considered as rare, these bacteria still present risks since they have developed high resistance to antibiotic medications.

In the subcontinent of Indian, basil had been used as part of their ayurvedic medicine and traditional Tamil medicine while the Jewish believed that consuming the leaves of this plant provides strength during fasting.

A quick trivia from Medical News Today revealed that basil may actually be named as such because it may have been used for “some royal unguent, bath, or medicine.” With that said, the International journal of Agronomy and Plant Production says the name “basil” actually came from the Greek term “basileus” which means “king.” This was echoed by the French, who called basil as l’herbe royale or “the royal herb.”

To make it short, here is a couple of health benefits basil leaves provide:

  • Reduces swelling and inflammation. A study shown at an annual event of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society deem extracts from the Holy basil, scientifically known as O. tenuiflorm, can lessen swelling by as much as 73% within 24 hours following the treatment.
  • Calms upset stomach. Italians had been adding basil into almost every dish they prepare for good reason. Some think basils have a calming effect. In fact, they believe that half 1 teaspoon of dried or fresh basil leaf soaked in water can help ease indigestion.
  • Treatment for coughs and colds. Some Amish people use basil leaves to alleviate coughs and colds. Simply combine a tablespoon of dried basil leaf to 2 cups of boiling water and inhale the steam coming off of it for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Relief for bites and stings. Like plantain, basil leaves can be used to relieve stings and bites from insects. All you have to do is chew up a couple of them and apply to the affected area. This would not only ease the pain from the bite or sting, but would also draw out the venom from the area.
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