The Health Wonders of Basil!

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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!

Fresh basil is not only a good source of  Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, and Manganese, but has also been shown to possess the following properties:

  1. ANTIBACTERIAL
  2. ANTI-DIABETIC
  3. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
  4. DIGESTIVE AID
  5. MILD SEDATIVE

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!

zucchini-salad-pesto-online holistic healthIngredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. In a food processor or blender pulse basil, 2 tbsp. almonds and salt.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Plate and top with pesto and remaining toasted almonds.

Serves 4 – Enjoy!

Remember organic only!

 

 

Susan Hartman

Susan is a lawyer, Pilates instructor and passionate advocate of natural wellness. In 2006 she began exploring various nutritional and movement therapies, meditation and other alternative means of healing in an attempt to naturally relieve hormonal imbalances, eczema and back and joint pain. After much research and trial and error, she found a personal regimen that not only alleviated her symptoms, but that also left her with a new found sense of overall health and wellness. During this period of exploration, she was introduced to Pilates and was surprised by how quickly she began to feel and see positive results in her body. She loves how Pilates emphasizes body awareness and the connection of breath to movement, and she believes it can bring about lifelong health benefits including stress relief and improved strength, flexibility, balance and coordination.

Today Susan strives to promote the importance of regular exercise, a clean whole foods diet, compassion for self and others, and a curious attitude, all as a means to maintaining vitality and living a balanced and centered life. When she is not practicing law or teaching Pilates, she can be found hiking or biking in the woods, soaking up the sun atop her paddleboard, engaged in a yoga or group fitness class, or immersed in a book or classic movie.