5 Health Benefits of Basil (and 5 Quick Uses):
This very informative post today is being brought to you by Chaya from Pantry Paratus! Chaya is our newet contributing author and we are very excited to have her perspective at Real Food Outlaws!
Don’t confine Basil to your pizza sauce!
Most notable for its use in Italian, Indian, certain Asian, and other Mediterranean foods, Basil’s delicate-yet-obvious flavor enhances more than just tomato dishes. It can enhance your health, too!
Basil is a bit prissy about temperature, frost, and wind; it can be difficult to grow in colder climates. I nearly always kill mine before I’m done in the attempt of gardening it. Whether you are successfully growing your own or purchase it from a local farmer, here are a few reasons to incorporate Basil into your diet routinely:
NOTE: Food is indeed medicine. This blog is only a jumping point for you to do more research. Once you have, please talk to your health professional about whether an increased intake of Basil is a healthy addition to your diet. It may interfere with some medicines, especially in the case of Diabetes. Also, there are several types of Basil, with “Sweet Basil” (or St. Joseph’s Wort) and “Holy Basil” being considered medicinal. Research!
Here are the health benefits of Basil:
- Natural Anti-Diabetic Treatment. Warning: Do not increase your Basil intake without first consulting your physician if you are under treatment for any glucose disorder. Why? Because there are studies that show it can lower glucose levels naturally.
- Digestive Problems. Basil is in the mint family, and mint is well-known for its soothing digestive properties. The first recorded uses of Basil were all to treat digestive ailments, and it’s a common reason to increase Basil intake. It may be used in the prevention of ulcers and can calm an upset stomach, cramps, and even vomiting. It can act as a laxative, so research before you start munching down on your potted plant—don’t overdo it, or experience the ever-vengeful side effect of diarrhea!
- To alleviate arthritis, inflammation, and other autoimmune disorders. Basil is anti-inflammatory. It’s also leads to…(here’s your $10 word)…“immunomodulation”—which is an adjustment of the immune response to a desired level. The winning combination of being both anti-inflammatory and positively affecting your immune response means that an increased Basil intake can lead to some relief.
- Relieves stress, tension, and maybe even insomnia. This is an ancient use for the herb, but scientists have only recently discovered eugenol among its constituents, a chemical, aromatic compound that naturally stabilizes mood. Triterpenoic acids isolated from holy basil effectively improve the body’s response to stress (source 3).
- Soothe a Headache. Make a Basil & Lavender Tea! Another traditional use for Basil is as a headache treatment, but it isn’t as affective alone as it is partnered with Lavender. Either use the essential oils rubbed into your temples or drink a relaxing glass of tea (it’s quite delicious and mild).
Here are 5 quick uses for Basil:
- Homemade Pesto—this is a fantastic way to glam up nearly any meal, and a winter night with a slather of pesto on bread just feels brighter. Check out this Flax Oil Pesto recipe on Pantry Paratus or this pasta salad recipe (easily gluten-free) using your favorite pesto!
- Replace the lettuce on your sandwich! Add the fresh flavor of basil and create an aromatic meal for a serious pick-me-up as your noontime meal.
- Drop a handful of leaves into the mixed greens of your salad. You’ll find, that if your salad is made with fresh and flavorful ingredients like this one, a small bit of olive oil is all that’s needed (no heavy, chemical-laden dressings anymore).
- Garnish your pasta with a few leaves on top—there is something about a snappy presentation to lift your spirits…and the flavor of Basil works with any pasta combination you can concoct.
- Caprese Salad! This is as summer as lemonade and watermelon. Natural , nutrient-dense ingredients that pop in your mouth. Get this caprese salad recipe from Pantry Paratus.
High in Potassium and in Vitamin K, Basil will boost your health and the flavor of any meal.
What are some other ways you use Basil?
Chaya and Wilson are the team behind Pantry Paratus, the place to go for kitchen equipment that supports traditional, natural foods. You can see both their store and blog at PantryParatus.com