Basil is a green-colored leafy herb that comes with a wonderful sweet flavor and a fresh and natural fragrance. It is mainly found to grow in large quantities in parts of Asia like India, Africa, and Middle-Eastern tropical areas. But these herbs can be easily grown in other parts of the world also, for instance in the gardens by your balcony or in your kitchen. Basil possesses a delicious and natural taste for which it is used as a seasoning substance in a variety of Thai and Italian dishes. Holy basil, commonly known as tulsi is also consumed in India as an important herb with herbal medicines, or with beverages, for example, basil tea. Apart from having a delicious taste, basil also contains a good number of medicinal properties. In fact, Basil has been used as one of the most important ingredients in the process of preparation of traditional medicines since the early ages.
Here Is What You Should Know About Basil
Basil or Ocimumbasilicum is a health-beneficial, green herb that contains a lot of nutrients and medicinal properties. According to experts, there are more than 60 varieties of basil herbs that have been found to grow all over the world. These varieties differ in taste and fragrance.
Some of the most used basil varieties are listed below:
- Sweet basil: Sweet basil is the most commonly grown one of the most popularly consumed basil all over the world. Besides having essential medicinal properties, it has a licorice- clove like taste and a strong fragrance, for which it is a prime seasoning ingredient in Italian dishes in dried and crumbled forms.
- Bush or Greek basil: Greekbasil is often consumed as a substitute of sweet basil. Like sweet basil, herbs like bush basil also possess a strong scent, but has a mild flavor with small leaves.
- Thai basil: Thai basil is a very popular seasoning ingredient that adds a licorice- anise flavor to many Thai and South- eastern Asian dishes.
- Cinnamon basil: Cinnamon basil has a typical cinnamon-like flavor and scent. These types of basils are widely grown in Mexico and are consumed with leguminous foods or spicy, stir-fried vegetables.
- Lettuce basil:Lettuce basils generally havelarge, wrinkled, soft leaves that come with a licorice-like flavor and are served with salads or in various Italian dishes like tossed tomatoes with sprinkled olive oil.
The nutritional and medicinal components in basil are potential enough to keep us healthy and fight several diseases.
Nutritional Components In Basil
According to experts, almost 2 tablespoons or approximately 5 grams of freshly picked and chopped basil provides the following health nutrients: (1)
- Calories: 0.6 to 1
- Protein: 0.2 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 0.1 grams
- Fiber: 0.1 grams
- Sugar: 0 grams
- Calcium: 0.5% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 3% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 13% of the RDI
- Manganese: 1.5% of the RDI
- Iron: 0.5% of the RDI
Potential Health Benefits Of Basil
Basils are filled with essential health components that not only keep us healthy when consumed but also provide defensive abilities to combat various harmful diseases in the body. Basils are considered as powerhouses of various types of vital vitamins like vitamins A, E, and K and key minerals that are necessary for your health like calcium, iron, manganese, and so on. Moreover, basils are rich sources of powerful dietary antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin.
These essential antioxidants are believed to provide necessary health benefits. Some of them are listed below:
Reduction of Oxidative Stress
Different varieties of basil, like sweet basils, are filled with essential plant components like eugenol and rich antioxidants like anthocyanins and beta-carotene, and compounds like limonene present in lemon basils. These essential health components are scientifically proven to reduce oxidative stress in your body by preventing oxidative damage caused by disease-causing free radicals in the body. This activity further reduces the risk of developing a variety of concerning health conditions, like cancer, heart and circulation-related disorders, arthritis, and diabetes or conditions of high blood sugar levels.
Contains Anti- Cancer Properties
Various types of basils, including holy basils and sweet basils, contain properties that are anti-carcinogenic in nature. These types of basil herbs are filled with rich health components called phytochemicals that help to prevent the risks of occurrences of several types of cancers like lung cancer, liver cancer, oral cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, stomach, and pancreatic cancer, and skin cancer.
Controls high blood sugar levels
Many people suffer from diseases like diabetes characterized by high levels of blood sugar. Basils contain health extracts that are known to control spikes in blood sugar levels and thus can also help to treat long-term diabetic disorders.
Keeps your Heart healthy
Basils consist of essential components like eugenol, which helps to take good care of your heart by lowering the high levels of blood pressure. Moreover, these components also help to maintain the optimum levels of good or HDL cholesterol and lower down the levels of bad or LDL cholesterol in your body. This ensures to prevent the chances of occurrences of various cardiac diseases like heart attack, cardiac failure, cardiac arrest, and so on. Basil also contains important health minerals like magnesium, which helps to regulate the circulatory system.
Take good care of Mental Health
Basils, mainly holy basils or Tulsiare used commonly in Ayurvedic medicine and also in aromatherapy. The health extracts in these types of basils, along with the strong, natural smell helps to reduce chronic stress, depression, anxiety attacks, and keep good care of your memory and mental health even in older ages.
Contains Anti-inflammatory properties
Extracts of several types of basils contain important health components like eugenol, linalool, and citronellol that are known to contain potential anti-inflammatory properties. These components when consumed can potentially lower down the risks of developing chronic inflammatory disorders in the body such as arthritis, chronic heart disease, and bowel problems like IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Protection against Infections
Different varieties of basil have antibacterial properties in their extracts. Essential oils of basil herbs are often used to treat the harmful infections caused by various species of bacteria in people in several portions of the body like the respiratory and urinary tract, abdomen, and skin.
Other Health Benefits:
Apart from the above benefits, there are some other conditions that are treated on the consumption of basil extracts. Some of them are written below:
- Lowers mental anxiety, states of panic, chronic stress and prevents early aging
- Reduces heart diseases heart strokes and also helps to repair cardiac damage after a stroke
- Improves heart conditions like cholesterol and triglycerides
- Helps to control high levels of blood pressure and lowers down symptoms of hypertension
- Relax blood vessels and thus reduces the risks of developing circulatory or cardio- vascular related diseases
- Protect the healthy growth of good bacteria in your gut andthus prevents stomach or digestive ulcers
- Helps to keep away insects, mosquitoes and ticks
Potential Downsides Of Basil:
Though basils are known to be filled with several essential vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants, there are still certain potential side effects that might occur due to overconsumption of basils and there are certain groups who should thoroughly limit or avoid overconsumption of basils or can otherwise take the suggestions of a registered medical practitioner. So, it is always advisable to consume basil in moderate proportions. Recent studies reveal that 100–400 mg of basil extract per kg (220–880 mg per pound) of body weight is safe for usage. Some health risks that develop due to overconsumption of basils are as follows:
- Recent studiesreveal that high content of vitamin K in basils that help in clotting of blood can interfere with drugs that are meant for blood- thinning like warfarin can lead to bleeding disorders in your body and can prove to be life threatening during any sort of surgery or hemorrhage.
- Having high amounts of basil or basil supplements can be troubling in people with high blood pressure or with diabetes. These people should consult their medical care giver to determine the exact dose of basils fit for them.
Others Who Need To Avoid Overconsumption Of Basils:
- Pregnant women and breast- feeding mothers- Animal studies suggest that holy basil supplements may negatively affect sperm and trigger contractions in pregnancy. Risks during breastfeeding are unknown.
- People with high rates of allergies, particularly basil allergy.
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