Most people are unaware of basil health benefits. Think of basil and you probably think of an amazing dish of pesto. Or perhaps you imagine a simple, delicious pasta sauce made with Roma tomatoes and basil fresh from the garden. But did you know that this Italian staple also has amazing health benefits?
Basil, particularly in essential oil form, is a powerful antibacterial. Laboratory tests have shown basil oil to be effective in killing a number of common bacteria, including Listeria monocytogenes, Staphyloccocus aureus, and E. coli. Basil’s antibacterial properties may even make it effective against drug-resistant bacteria. Washing your produce in a solution of 1% basil oil can lower the bacteria count dramatically, and including basil in your vinaigrettes or marinades is a delicious way to make the antibacterial properties of the herb work for you.
Basil is also reported to have anti-inflammatory properties, as its oils block the same inflammation-causing enzyme blocked by more common pain relievers such as aspirin. People suffering from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease have reported relief from using basil, especially basil oil.
Regularly eating basil can also be a tasty way to protect your heart and promote cardiovascular health. The herb is a good source of magnesium, which promotes heart health, and of beta carotene. Beta carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body and Vitamin A is known to fight free radicals that can cause cellular damage and may lead to cholesterol build up in the arteries. Including basil in your recipes can aid in preventing or slowing the progression of cardiovascular conditions as well as asthma and arthritis.
Basil is also a good source or iron, Vitamin C, potassium, and calcium which are all nutrients necessary for a healthy body.
Basil may also be effective in the management of diabetes, as it contains cinnamanic acid. This acid helps to promote circulation and regulate blood sugar, which are vital to the management of diabetes.
Who knew that the humble basil plant could do so much more than flavor a dish of your favorite pasta?