The round, often pointed leaves of the basil plant looks a lot like peppermint to which it is related. Its highly fragrant leaves are used as a seasoning herb for a variety of foods but has become ever popular as the main ingredient in pesto, the mixture of basil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese.
- The unique array of active constituents called flavonoids, particularly orientin and vicenin, provide protection at the cellular level for DNA.
- Essential oil of basil, obtained from its leaves, have demonstrated the ability to inhibit antibiotic resistant bacteria.
- The eugenol component of basil’s volatile oils exerts “anti-inflammatory” effects that can provide important healing benefits along with symptomatic relief for individuals with inflammatory health problems like rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel conditions.
- Basil provides cardiovascular health benefits through it’s richness in vitamin A and magnesium.
- In addition to the health benefits and nutrients described above, basil ais an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese, a very good source of copper and vitamin C, and a good source of calcium, iron, folate and omega-3 fatty acids.
Best Ways to Use
- Combine fresh chopped basil with garlic and olive oil to make a dairy-free variety of pesto that can top a variety of dishes including pasta, salmon and whole wheat brushetta.
- Enjoy a taste of Italy by layering fresh basil leaves over tomato slices and mozzarella cheese to create this traditional colorful and delicious salad.
- Adding basil to healthy stir-fries, especially those that include eggplant, cabbage, chili peppers, tofu and cashew nuts will give them a Thai flair.
- Purée basil, olive oil and onions in a food processor or blender and add to tomato soups.
- Enjoy a warm cup of invigorating basil tea by infusing chopped basil leaves in boiling water for eight minutes.