Six Reasons Why You Should Include Basil In Your Diet!
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is one of the most loved culinary herbs. It’s distinctive taste and fragrance makes it a welcome addition to many dishes. But this aromatic herb is much more than just a food enhancer – its health benefits are numerous!
The word “basil” is derived from the Greek word basilikon which means “royal,” and this is representative of the high respect that many ancient cultures had for the herb.
Basil is native to India and continues to be a sacred herb used in spiritual ceremonies and Ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of conditions that can be helped by reducing inflammation, including gastrointestinal disturbances, headaches, arthritis, and congestion. And the benefits of this incredible herb are now being recognized on a much larger scale!
Many of the health benefits are derived from the flavonoids and volatile oils contained in the leaves of the plant that have been shown to possess antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and DNA-protecting properties. A recent study concluded that basil may be effective in reducing blood glucose levels and that it “offered positive benefits to control diabetes.”
Like other members of the mint family, basil has traditionally been used as a mild sedative and digestive aid as its volatile oil relaxes the smooth muscle of the intestines.
There are approximately 40 variations of basil, including cinnamon and lemon. Holy basil, or tulsi, is considered a sacred plant in India and is believed to purify and calm the heart and mind and promote longevity. Medicinally, holy basil has traditionally been used to treat inflammation, respiratory ailments, and heart disease. Tulsi tea is often consumed to combat stress and to fight off colds and flu.
You are probably now asking yourself, “What is the sixth reason to include basil in my diet?”
6. It tastes AMAZING! Especially garden to table!
According to folklore, planting basil in the garden can bring about prosperity and happiness. Now, how many plants can boast that?!
And just to make it a little sweeter, basil is a super easy plant to grow! It can be started indoors about six weeks prior to planting season, and then when all signs of frost have disappeared, it can be moved outside and planted in rich moist soil in direct sunlight. Once the plant has about 7-8 leaves, pick the top two and continue picking at least once a week to help the plant to flourish.
When thinking about recipes containing basil most people immediately think of pesto sauce. Here’s a healthy twist to an old favorite, Zucchini Pasta with Pesto!
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 3 medium zucchini put through the spiralizer (or grated lengthwise)
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 3 tbsp. sliced and toasted almonds
- In a food processor or blender pulse basil, 2 tbsp. almonds and salt.
- Add lemon juice and 1 tbsp. olive oil and pulse until a thick pesto consistency. Add a few drops of water if necessary. Add salt to taste.
- In a skillet, heat remaining 1/2 tbsp. olive oil and add zucchini noodles and crushed red pepper. Saute until tender, approximately 8-12 minutes.
- Plate and top with pesto and remaining toasted almonds.
Serves 4 – Enjoy!
Remember organic only!