Basil is one of the most popular culinary herbs used to season a large variety a dishes around the world. But basil is not only one of the tastiest herbs around; it is actually one of the healthiest herbs to consume, as it possesses a number of health benefits.
For centuries, basil has been popular in its native India and has been the go-to remedy for all sorts of bodily conditions and ailments including respiratory disorders, impotence, allergies, and infertility. These traditional medicinal uses may stem from the fact that basil contains cinnamanic acid, a powerful compound proven to enhance circulation, stabilize blood sugar, and improve respiration.
Basil is an excellent source of a variety of key nutrients, including vitamin C, calcium, vitamin A and phosphorus. Furthermore, basil is a useful source of magnesium, potassium and iron. Basil also contains high concentrations of carotenoids such as beta carotene which are converted to vitamin A in the body. It is also an excellent source of vitamin K, with just 2 teaspoons of basil providing approximately 60% of your daily value of vitamin K.
Basil is also known to have extremely powerful antioxidant properties, especially when it is used in the form of an extract or oil. The natural antioxidants found in basil can protect the body against damage from free radicals.
Additionally, scientific data shows that the volatile oils in basil, combined with their antioxidant effects, make it a healthy booster for the immune system. Fresh basil leaves and basil oil both have antibacterial properties and can actually be used to clean surfaces. Ingesting basil as a culinary herb or supplement can also give the body an ability to combat viral infections, including colds and flu. The oil can also be used to treat cuts and scrapes and is utilized in many skin care products to help improve the condition of skin.
Apart from its health benefits, basil is one of the tastiest herbs you can cook with. If you are using dried basil, however, it is best to stick to the better known brands whose manufacturing process should be more reliable. It is better still, though, to grow your own basil when possible and use the herb fresh. That way you will know all of the basil’s health properties are still intact.