Basil: benefits and how to consume this food

This content is part of the Alternative Medicine category and may contain information that lacks scientific studies and/or medical consensus.

Basil is an aromatic herb that is very popular in the seasoning of pizzas, salads and sauces. But did you know that consuming it regularly is good for your health?

Well, Ocimum basilicum leaves  are traditionally used to treat infections , to relieve pain, cough and hoarseness and to keep blood glucose and cholesterol levels under control.

Learn more about these and other benefits and how to add the herb to your diet, as well as learn how to plant and care for them. Follow it below!

Health Benefits of Basil

Prevents and treats infections

Basil leaves are rich in substances with antibacterial ( 1 ), antiviral ( 2 ) and antifungal ( 3 ) effects .

These properties inhibit the proliferation of microorganisms that are often the cause of various types of infectious diseases.

This anti-infective effect of the herb happens because of the presence of the so-called phenolic compounds, substances that have shown an inhibitory power against the production of certain enzymes, which make the bacteria manage to fix themselves in the body and start to multiply. ( 1 )

The result is that harmful microorganisms cannot proliferate as effectively and end up being eliminated from the body more quickly. Providing, in this way, a faster recovery . ( 4 )

A similar process happens with several types of viruses, such as the flu . ( 3 ) And with fungi, whose propagation method is impeded. ( 4 )

Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease

Another benefit of consuming the herb on a daily basis is that it protects the heart and reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease . Benefit that is directly linked to two main reasons. ( 5 )

The first is related to its ability to protect heart cells from damage and stimulate the production of substances that cause the heart to beat at a healthy rate . ( 4 )

The second is that the herb works to reduce cholesterol levels , triglycerides and blood glucose , factors that increase the risk of developing heart disease, according to health organizations. ( 3 )

protect the liver

You know that heavy feeling you feel after drinking too much or eating something too fatty? It could be your liver trying to detoxify your body and the good news is that a basil tea can help you with that.

The extract of the basil leaves is able to prevent the damage caused by the ingestion of alcohol and medicines, reducing the degradation and death of the cells of this organ.

The consumption of basil also reduces the production of some enzymes that cause the oxidation of fat that is accumulated in the organ.

These effects, taken together, serve to reduce the risk of developing liver diseases such as alcoholic hepatitis . ( 5 )

Relieves cough

Basil tea is able to provide relief from cough , which is why the herb is widely used by folk medicine. Science attests to this action due to the herb’s bronchodilating properties .

That is, it helps to relax and widen the airway, making it easier for the body to expel mucus or any other substance that is irritating the area, decreasing spasms and relieving coughing and irritation.

It should be noted, however, that this only works for cases where the problem is caused by the accumulation of mucus, common in colds, allergies. For dry cough it is important to seek medical help. ( 6 )

Strengthens the immune system

There are problems that make the immune system weak and more susceptible to a number of illnesses, and eating basil can help resolve this.

The substance that gives the leaves the vibrant color is able to stimulate the production of new antibodies , the body’s main defense cells and which act when the body is under any external or internal threat.

This process is very important and ends up strengthening the immune system in a natural way, as it increases the amount of these cells in the body.

Thus, consuming the herb can help prevent illnesses such as the flu, colds and even cancer.

Relieves the pain

Finally, adding basil to your daily life is a natural way to relieve muscle pain .

This is because it has an analgesic effect very similar to aspirin, but without the negative effects of the drug.

Its consumption caused a decrease in muscle contractions and a blockage in receptors that capture stimuli and lead to the sensation of pain to the brain.

The result is quick relief from muscle pain without having to consume large amounts of the herb. ( 4 )

How to use the herb?

basil tea

Ingredients

  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup of filtered water.

Preparation mode

To prepare tea is very simple. Just bring the water to the fire until it starts to boil, pour it into the herb leaves and let the infusion rest for 10 minutes.

After this time, strain and drink little by little, without adding any type of sweetener so that it does not lose its medicinal properties.

Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 shelled walnuts
  • 100 grams of grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup of oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste.

Preparation mode

You must mash all the ingredients in a pestle until you get a paste. If you don’t have one, you can use a mixer or the pulsar mode of the blender, always leaving the oil and pepper to be last.

Once this is done, place the sauce in sterilized glass jars and store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

It tastes delicious and can be used in soups, as a quick sauce for pasta, and even as an accompaniment to grilled meats.

herb salt

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of dried and chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons of dried thyme or rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper .

Preparation mode

To prepare, just mix all the ingredients and store them in a glass jar, in a dry and ventilated place.

This recipe is very simple and delicious. In addition, herbal salt also helps to halve the daily intake of sodium, since foods are tastier using a smaller amount of the product, reducing the risk of developing hypertension. ( 7 )

basil salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomato
  • ½ cup of fresh basil
  • 1 cup of arugula leaves
  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • 100 grams of buffalo mozzarella.

Preparation mode

Sanitize the leaves and tomatoes well and place everything in a bowl. On top, add the mozzarella and olive oil and mix well and that’s it, the salad is ready to be served as a light and tasty accompaniment to meat or fish.

Are there contraindications?

No contraindications for using basil were found. However, it is always important to point out that, like any other herb, it should not be overused.

How to plant and care for?

In order to always have fresh basil at home, it is possible to grow it. It can be planted in pots all year round. As it is resistant, it can be grown even in environments such as the kitchen.

Planting is done using seeds , which are easily found in agricultural stores and on the internet. They should be planted in soil well fertilized with organic matter, well drained and in a place that receives a lot of sunlight.

Watering should be done every two days so that the land is always moist, without soaking.

TIP! You need to prune the flowers frequently as they consume too much of the plant and diminish the quality and flavor of the leaves. ( 8 )

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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