10 Health Benefits of Basil
How can the most commonly used herb improve your health? Other than vamping up a boring meal, basil has nutritional value for almost every part of your body. Loaded with antioxidants such as flavonoids that protect you on the cellular level and vitamins for proper organ function, this sweet smelling flavor powerhouse packs a healthy punch for such a small ingredient.
Basil originates from India where it is regarded as a sacred herb which protects home and family from evil. However, its culinary and medicinal benefits have been revered for thousands of years by the Greek, Italian, and Asian cultures alike. There are many varieties of basil each with its own unique leaf coloring, shape, and flavor. Sweet basil, or ocimum basilicum for you horticultural purist, is the most commonly used species today. Even though basil is closely associated with Italian dishes, it can be used in a number of ways from seasoning to tea. Fresh basil holds more nutrients than the dried leaves, but in any form it makes a great recipe in good health.
Health Benefits of Basil
1. Basil protects your eyes – As one of the top ten foods highest in beta-carotene content, basil can help reduce your risks for eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, basil can also be used to soothe puffy eyes due to allergies or bacterial infections.
2. Basil maintains heart health – Basil is rich in antioxidants which are widely known to help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Acting as scavengers the antioxidant molecules seek out harmful free radicals that damage blood vessels, jeopardize the cell lining around organs, and produce bad cholesterol. Lowering cholesterol significantly reduces your risk of heart failure.
3. Basil improves blood circulation – As a source of magnesium, basil can increase blood flow through the body by relaxing blood vessels. Improved blood circulation allows nutrients to get where they are needed more easily and reduces strain on the heart. Another benefit to blood is basil’s ability to lower blood sugar levels making it safe for diabetics to enjoy.
4. Basil treats respiratory infections – For those who suffer from asthma, bronchitis, sinus infections or even the common cold can benefit from basil’s healing power. Often an ingredient in cough syrup, the vitamin C in the essential oils of basil clears up congestion in the lungs and relieves symptoms. If you’re a former smoker, basil has shown to be effective in helping to repair damaged lungs.
5. Basil improves brain function – Basil essential oil can be found as in ingredient in many aromatherapy products due to its antidepressant qualities. Studies have shown it to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, lift moods, and re-energize those who’ve incorporated it into their diet. While it works to calm you, basil is also effective in relieving headaches.
6. Basil strengthens muscles – Did you push yourself a little too hard at the gym? Look for a recipe with basil to relax and strengthen muscles naturally. Basil helps your body repair itself and relieves pain much like the over-the-counter medications like aspirin and ibuprofen.
7. Basil relieves indigestion – If you’re in need of immediate relief for constipation, bloating, stomach cramps, or flatulence, then basil essential oil can be used. An irritated digestive system can be soothed quickly with a cup of brewed basil tea or simply inhaling the strong scented herb.
8. Basil treats dental problems – Bad breathe? Chew on a few leaves of basil to freshen up. Tooth ache? Add some basil seasoning to your salad as a natural anti-inflammatory treatment. Oral infection? Sip on basil tea to relieve pain and let basil’s anti-bacterial properties kill off excessive oral bacteria causing tooth decay.
9. Basil clears skin – Studies have found basil works to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria from a wide range of skin irritations including acne, fungal infections like ringworm, insect bites, and even snakebites. In addition, basil has been used for thousands of years as an anti-aging remedy mostly likely due to the high antioxidant content which prevents free radicals from damaging skin cells. When combined with calcium and vitamin C it keeps skin hydrated, toned, and youthful.
10. Basil beautifies hair – A common reason for hair loss is poor blood circulation to the hair follicles. Basil helps to rejuvenate hair growth when massaged into the scalp. If you’re tired of weak and dull looking hair, basil essential oil moisturizes hair for renewed strength and shine.
All of these factors are important reminders that a healthy diet is essential for a longer and happier life. And as if the health benefits weren’t enough, basil is hearty enough for a novice gardener to grow. Having a potted basil plant in your home lets you enjoy fresh basil all year while saving money on groceries. Spice up your overall health and spice up your entrees!