One of the oldest herbs known to the mankind, basil’s healing and healthful properties have been the most treasured knowledge across the world. Closer home, Holy basil is revered for its strong medicinal and healing properties. One can still see basil plants outside many Indian households, even outside the clamped urban flats. Holy basil is offered to Gods in the form of prasad. Some say, that it is prohibited to even chew the holy basil leaves; one is supposed to swallow it at one go. Basil forms an intrinsic part of various curries and stews. There are significant botanical differences in various types of basil plants. The many varied species of basil include: sweet basil, lemon basil, Italian or curly basil, holy basil, Thai basil and lettuce-leaf basil. The smell and flavour of basil vary upon the concentration of essential volatile oils present in the herb. Cinnamate, citronellol, geraniol, linalool, pinene and terpineol are some of the oils that one can find across all species of basil. And it is the presence of these oils that chiefly affect the medicinal benefits of basil leaves.
Basil leaves are used in a variety of culinary preparations. In addition to the flavour, the culinary herb is said to preserve and enhance the properties of the food. From healthy gut to stronger immunity, benefits of basil leaves are quite a lot. Here are some you may not have known.
Benefits of basil leaves you must know
1. Good For Digestion
According to the book , ‘Healing Foods’ by DK Publishing, basil can facilitate optimal digestion. “Basil fortifies the digestive and nervous system and can be a good remedy for headaches and insomnia,” notes the book. The eugenol present in the leaves ensures anti-inflammatory action in the digestive tract. Basil helps balance acid within the body and restores the body’s proper pH level.
Eugenol present in basil leaves ensures anti-inflammatory action in the digestive tract
Basil and its strong anti-inflammatory properties can prove to be a cure to a variety of diseases and disorders. The powerful essential oils, including eugenol, citronellol and linalool, help lower inflammation through their enzyme inhibiting properties. The anti-inflammatory properties of basil may help lower risk of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions. Consumption of basil could also soothe fever, headache, sore throat, cold, cough, flu.
3. Fights free radical activity
According to the book ‘Healing Foods’, the culinary herb contains a range of natural antioxidants, which can help protect body tissues against free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable atoms. To become stable, they take electrons from other atoms and form chains. These chains of free radicals cause oxidative stress to the body and cause more damage to the cells. To reduce the oxidative stress in the body, one must up the intake of antioxidants. Basil contains two important water-soluble flavonoid antioxidants, known as orientin and viceninare. These potent antioxidants strengthen immune system, protect cellular structure, DNA and delay effects of skin ageing.
4. Skin Benefits
Basil’s powerful oil helps cleanse the skin from within. The excellent skin cleanser is perfect for those with oily skin. It also helps remove dirt and impurities that clog pores. Make a paste of basil leaves, sandalwood paste and rose water. Apply the paste on your face and let it sit for 20 minutes. Was it off with cold water. The strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of basil would help prevent formation of acne.
5. Fights Depression
Basil’s essential oil may help manage depression and anxiety too. The herb is believed to stimulate neurotransmitters that regulate the hormones responsible for inducing happiness and energy. Basil is considered as a powerful adaptogen or an anti-stress agent. Its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties help manage stress too.
6. Diabetes Management
Consumption of basil could result in slow release of sugar in the blood, which is very essential for diabetics. The herb has very low glycemic load. The essential oil present in basil also helps cut down triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which is a persistent risk factor amongst diabetics.
7. Supports Liver Function and Helps Detoxify the Body
Basil’s strong detox properties may do wonders for your liver health. Liver is a very essential organ for the body as it plays a crucial role in metabolism. Basil may help prevent fat build-up in the liver and keep your liver healthy.
8. Promote healthy gut
Basil also helps restore the body’s natural pH levels and feeds healthy bacteria within the gut microflora. A healthy gut flora increases immunity and promotes healthy digestion.
9. Heals An Upset Tummy
The essential volatile oil of basil has been seen as a traditional remedy to treat a variety of tummy problems in addition to indigestion. Consuming basil could help reduce bloating and water retention. It can even stimulate loss of appetite and could cure acid reflux as well.
Now that you are privy to the many benefits of basil leaves, make sure you make the most of the culinary herb in your regular diet. Here are some interesting basil recipes you may love to try.
1. Basil Pesto Hummus
Hummus fans raise your hand. Here’s a refreshing and healthy twist to your favourite dip with a bunch of freshly plucked basil leaves. Serve it with crisp toasts or vegetable crudites and you have a winner at hand.
2. Thai Basil Chicken
Fresh and fragrant basil leaves are the star of many Thai preparations, and this is one of our all-time favourites. Chicken chunks tossed in Oriental flavours of oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce and garlic; this delightful chicken preparation is sure to make you lick your fingers long after you are done noshing.
3. Orange And Basil Juice
Made with the goodness of orange and basil, this revitalising drink is the perfect drink to beat the heat. The summer cooler is a great way to detox and since it has no added sugar, you may not have to worry about your calorie load either.
So what are you waiting for? Treat yourself with the delicious delights and let us know how it went in the comments section below!