Basil is a household name in the kitchen for use in Italian recipes and can be found in the average herb garden. Besides the unique flavor it adds to foods, there are many other basil health benefits, including its nutritional value. This article will describe basil health benefits, nutritional value, and main uses in depth. At the end of the article will be some short recipes that can maximize the benefits of basil.
Basil Health Benefits
What are the health benefits of basil? Basil health benefits are numerous, but a few key benefits can be found below and have been proven through various research and study.
Immune boosting. Basil has a natural oil that it secretes to protect itself, and that benefits humans as well when the plant is eaten. It has been proven that making basil a regular part of people’s diets increases their bodies’ ability to fight off infections and diseases by strengthening their immune system.
Anti-inflammatory properties. One of the most powerful basil health benefits is the plant’s ability to lower inflammation in the human body. This can help with many diseases and chronic pain conditions, as well as minor allergic reactions.
Anti-oxidants. Basil, when used as an essential oil, can fight stress on the body from environmental toxins and even slow down the spread of cancerous cells. Basil extract has been used in studies on humans and animals to protect healthy tissues from the side-effects of cancer treatment as well as to protect the body from developing cancer in the first place.
Acne treatment and prevention. The use of basil to help fight acne has been encouraged by many specialists due to the way the natural oil of the plant fights the oil produced by human skin. Later in this article will be a short article for how fresh basil can be used when battling break-outs.
Anti-bacterial properties. Due to the natural oils of basil we already mentioned, basil health benefits include special abilities to help fight e.coli and staph along with many other bacterial growths which cause infections in humans.
Basil Nutritional Value
What is the nutritional value of basil?
A half cup of fresh basil contains only 5 calories and still has almost all the daily recommended amount of vitamin K for the average adult. It also contains trace elements such as manganese, copper, folate, magnesium, and omega-3 fats. As far as the other nutritional contents of basil, for every 100 grams of fresh basil, there is:
- 23 calories, 5 from fat
- 1 gram of total fat
- 4 milligrams of sodium
- 3 grams of carbohydrates
- 2 grams of dietary fiber
- 3 grams of protein
- 106% DV of Vitamin A
- 18% DV of Calcium
- 30% DV of Vitamin C
- 18% DV of Iron
Adding more basil to any diet helps increase the amounts of these important nutrients, which boosts the body without the need to worry about calories or fat, as so many people worry about when adding healthy foods to their diet. It also adds flavor without the expense of copious amounts of sugar or sodium, while still providing exceptional amounts of nutrients that are hard to incorporate into the average diet when taking into account calories and carbs. Plus it just makes food taste great, and bland food is all too common while dieting. The strong scent and taste of basil spices up most any dish and is very versatile, so people can get the nutrition they need without worrying about going overboard on calories or carbs.
Basil is mainly used in food as a seasoning in Italian cuisine. Pesto, sauces, and soups are common. It is delicious combined with tomato, red meats, and most vegetables.
A basic recipe for pesto is to mix together the following ingredients into a smooth paste:
- ½ cup of olive oil
- 2 minced cloves (or 1 tsp of pre-minced) of garlic
- ½ tsp of salt
- 1 cup of fresh basil put through a food processor (or ¼ cup of dried basil leaves)
- Optionally, add ½ cup of Parmesan or Romano cheese and ¼ cup of finely chopped pine nuts or walnuts.
Dried basil is about 4 times as flavorful as fresh basil and is more easily incorporated into cooked foods, though drying releases some of the nutrients. To dry basil at home:
- Preheat oven to the lowest setting (usually between 140-170 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Place the leaves face up on a baking sheet, optionally on a sheet of tin foil to prevent any sticking.
- Either turn off the oven and let it sit for about 20 minutes, or bake take for about 5-10 minutes and remove them when the leaves have browned and can be easily crushed.
Basil Home Remedy For Breakouts
Basil can also be used to help with an overabundance of natural oils in the skin that can lead to breakouts. To make a home remedy for troublesome acne:
- Combine ½ cup of fresh basil leaves and 1 cup of water in a saucepan.
- Boil together for approximately 10 minutes.
- Let it completely cool.
- Using a cotton ball or the tip of a rag, apply to your face where the acne seems most prevalent.
- Leave it on your skin for 10 minutes before gently rinsing with water.
Basil health benefits are numerous and incredible. This marvelous plant has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, boosts the immune system, is rich in anti-oxidants, and can help fight acne and cancerous cells. Providing lots of Vitamin A, C, K, iron, and manganese, among others. Basil can be made into pesto, dried at home, and used against acne.
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