We all know basil as an intensely aromatic herb that refines many delicious Mediterranean dishes. The delicious spice not only promises a delight for the palate, but has also been used as a valuable remedy for centuries. In today’s article we will go into more detail on the question of how healthy basil is and what health benefits the medicinal plant brings with it.
What is basil?
Basil is a fragrant plant that belongs to the mint family, like mint, sage and lavender. The particularly diverse species Ocimum basilicum, which has been cultivated in the Mediterranean for around 3,500 years, was not considered a culinary highlight for the first time. The aromatic spice was basically used as a medicinal and ritual plant. The history of basil is associated with many beliefs. Its name is due to the extraordinarily aromatic smell and translated from Greek means “royal herb”.
Why is basil healthy? – Valuable basil ingredients
Numerous health benefits are ascribed to basil as a medicinal plant. Before we take a close look at the effect of the spice, let’s take a look at the vital substances it contains. It is no coincidence that the miracle herb found a wide variety of medicinal uses in earlier times. The components contained in basil help fight many diseases and build immunity. The basil plant is packed with nutrients. It is rich in trace elements, minerals and vitamins such as vitamins A, C and K. 20 grams of basil contain around 100 percent of the recommended daily requirement of vitamin K. 50 grams of fresh basil contain half the amount of beta-carotene from carrots. If you consider that carrots are one of the first places in the list of the top beta-carotene suppliers, basil has a proud proportion of the raw material for the formation of vitamin A. Basil contains many minerals and provides plenty of calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus , Potassium, sodium and manganese. The nutrient-rich herb contains 22 calories per 100 grams and is therefore low in calories.
The effects of basil and its health benefits
Although basil is not a typical medicinal plant, its healing properties are medically recognized and are used to alleviate various ailments. In the following you will find out what the basil is actually good for.
1. Basil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
The medicinal plant owes its healing properties in particular to the essential oils it contains. The active ingredients citral, eugenol and linalool have an analgesic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect. Basil essential oil can even successfully fight multi-resistant bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas, which are now resistant to various antibiotics. The consumption of basil can also have positive effects on chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and rheumatism.
2. Basil makes the organism resistant to stress
Basil contains biologically active plant ingredients such as adaptogens. These are compounds that help the body deal with emotional and physical stress. The consumption of basil helps the body to maintain a balanced functionality even during stressful events. The occurrence of mood swings and depression is minimized by the healthy active ingredients in the basil plant. Instead of struggling through the day unrested, you can beat insomnia by eating basil.
3. Basil as a healthy source of energy
If you want to keep your energy level high, it is advisable to enrich the smoothies with basil. The copper contained in it helps to fight exhaustion.
4. Calms the stomach
The essential basil oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-cramping effects when used internally. It relaxes and relieves pain. Intestinal infections, flatulence as well as stomach and menstrual cramps are positively influenced by the active ingredients in the medicinal herb. When buying essential oil, choose only high-quality and all-natural products. Basil has a calming effect on the digestive system, even after eating too large a meal. A green smoothie with fresh basil leaves or a glass of water with half a spoon of dried leaves will quickly eliminate the uncomfortable feeling of heaviness.
5. Positive effects of basil on the skin
Your skin, too, can benefit from the many health benefits of the medicinal plant basil. For a fresh, younger look and healthy complexion, rub your facial skin with dried basil leaves. Basil for internal or external use can prevent various skin diseases thanks to its antibacterial and antibiotic properties. Its ingredients remove toxins from the blood, thereby preventing breakouts and acne breakouts. Pimples go away faster if you mix a few pounded basil leaves with a few drops of rose water and treat the affected area with it. The basil leaves also prove to be an effective natural remedy for blackheads. Wet the top of the leaflets and place them on either side of your nose. After 5 minutes, take them off and wash your face. For example, you can treat your skin to a makeover by treating your face with a mixture of coconut oil and basil.
6. Is basil healthy for hair?
For dull, thin and weak hair, you can also resort to noble herbs and give it a radiant shine. You can get an excellent hair mask from a few basil leaves, aloe vera gel and a capsule of vitamin E. By using the basil on the scalp, blood is supplied, healthy hair growth is promoted and itching is reduced. The use of basil in hair care can also prevent hair loss.
7. The royal herb for healthy eyes
Vitamin A, also known as the eye vitamin, plays an essential role in eye health. Inflammation, swelling, all kinds of infections and conjunctivitis can be prevented by using aromatic herbs. The vitamin A contained in basil protects against poor eyesight at dusk, also known as night blindness. Beta-carotene is also an important compound that prevents muscle degeneration.
8. Basil for a healthy heart
The vitamin K in basil is essential for blood clotting and bone metabolism. The ingredients in the medicinal plant contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system and prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases. The herbal plant contains a high proportion of antioxidants that support heart health. The cholesterol level and high blood pressure can be regulated through the use of basil leaf extract.
9. Dental health
For good tooth and gum health, you can mix a pollution-free toothpaste made from powdered sun-dried basil leaves and mustard oil. The antioxidants ensure clean teeth and prevent dental plaque. At the same time, the antibacterial properties prevent the bacteria from spreading in the mouth. By chewing up fresh basil leaves, you can combat bad breath and enjoy fresh breath.
10. Basil seeds for weight loss
The basil seeds also bring several health benefits to your health. They are versatile and have a high proportion of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, fiber, minerals and vitamins. Thanks to the alpha-lionenic acid contained in it, the metabolism is set in motion and thus promotes weight loss. The high proportion of fiber gives you a long-lasting feeling of satiety, which keeps you from unhealthy snacks. The small, black, teardrop-shaped seeds swell to 10 times their original size, which also makes you feel full.
Recipes prepared healthily with basil
In the following we have selected great basil recipes for you that convince with the unique aroma of the herbs and give you suggestions on how you can implement basil in your kitchen and benefit from all the healthy advantages of the herb plant.
Aromatic basil butter with parmesan
The combination of herbal flavors and butter is certainly the simplest, but also particularly delicious sauce for grilled meat, vegetables or seafood. For the delicious herb butter, which is ready in 5 minutes, you will need the following ingredients:
115 g unsalted butter, soft
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
20 g finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice + 2 tsp lemon zest
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix the butter, basil, parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and zest in a food processor until a homogeneous mixture is obtained. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Wrap the butter in cling film and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If you don’t have a food processor to hand, you can chop the garlic and basil by hand and mix them with the rest of the ingredients with a fork.
Cold zucchini and basil soup with walnuts
Are you one of those people who never get enough of zucchini during the summer season? We have selected a healthy recipe for soup for dinner that can be enjoyed cold. It is ideal as a light and refreshing meal in summer. The fresh basil leaves give the soup additional freshness and a delicious fragrance.
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
6 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
450 zucchini, diced
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
940 ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups of roasted walnut halves + more for garnish
3 cups of fresh basil leaves + more to garnish
245 g Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté the shallots, stirring occasionally. Add thyme and garlic and sauté until they start to smell. Stir in zucchini, salt and pepper, reduce the heat to medium temperature and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the stock and continue to simmer until the zucchini fall apart. Puree the soup with the walnuts in the food processor and set the container aside to cool. Then chill the basil soup for at least 1 hour. In the meantime, puree the basil, yoghurt and lemon juice until smooth. Just before serving, stir in the yogurt mixture and season to taste. Garnish with chopped walnuts, a little olive oil, and a few crushed basil leaves.
Basil sorbet with cucumber
This basil sorbet with cucumber and mint also offers you a healthy and delicious cool down in summer. The creamy, frozen and not too sweet treat is gluten-free and vegan.
2 cups of cucumber, grated
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/3 cup mint leaves, chopped
1-2 tbsp honey
Fresh mint for garnish
optional: 1/2 green chilli pepper
Put all the ingredients in a blender and puree them until smooth. Put the mixture in the ice cream maker. If you don’t have one, freeze it in an airtight container in the freezer. This creates a granita – a frozen Sicilian dessert with a similar consistency. Serve garnished with sprigs of mint.
Prepare basil healthily – make infused basil oil yourself
If you want to add extra flavor to salads, pasta dishes, or stir-fries, infused oils are a great way to do it. Making homemade oils is easy. You will also have fun figuring out different combinations that suit your taste and come into use every day. First, wash the basil and pat it dry. Place the herbs in a mortar and pound to release the essential oils and any flavoring. Then pour them into an airtight glass bottle. Pour in the olive oil and seal the bottle. Store the aromatic olive oil in a dark place or in the refrigerator for two weeks before consuming. Check every now and then that the oil is aromatic enough for your taste. You need 2 bunches of fresh basil for 600 ml of mild olive oil. You can use the same method to make infused oil with other herbs, ginger, or chilli.
Basil seed drink
Last but not least, we would like to offer you the recipe for a refreshing and healthy summer basil seed drink with fragrant elderflower syrup and rose syrup.
1 tbsp basil seeds
120 ml of warm water
2 tbsp rose syrup
2 tbsp elderflower syrup
570 ml of chilled water
Pour warm water over the basil seeds in a small cup and let them soak for 10 minutes. Pour rose syrup into two short glasses. Put the basil seeds, the rose and elderflower syrup, the chilled water and the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker and mix. Divide the drink into the glasses and garnish with basil leaves if desired. Serve immediately.