Cooking On A Budget: Health Benefit of Sweet Basil

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Health Benefit of Sweet Basil

I tend to get excited when I read about the health benefits of foods and herbs that I love to cook with. So during a recent visit to a site I often visit on Facebook I found some amazing information I want to share with you. Again, not my research and not my words.
We grow sweet basil in our garden every year and I just love it. This article provided some valuable information so that I can get the benefits of fresh basil all year long.
To read more and get even further links and information, visit the link below.
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Health Benefits of Sweet Basil

Sweet basil, like most herbs, is loaded with health benefits. In addition to being a rich source of vitamin K, beta carotene, and iron, the plant is known to harness anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. The majority of the great benefits of basil can be attributed to its volatile oils and flavonoids – powerful, plant-based antioxidants that reduce inflammation, help fight aging, and promote healthy arteries
In basil essential oil, the volatile oils within the plant have been shown to have incredible antibacterial properties. Studies have confirmed the ability of these oils to restrict the growth of bacterial like Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli (E-coli), among others. A study published in a 2004 issue of Food Microbiology demonstrated that basil oils can even stop the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Scientists searching for natural, toxin-free food preservatives discovered that washing produce in a solution of as little as 1% basil essential oil decreased Shigella contamination below levels at which it could be detected. They’ve suggested that including basil in your salad could provide similar safeguards.
Two flavonoids within sweet basil have shown particular promise in fighting cell damage from radiation and free radicals. Orientin and vicenin are antioxidants that work to protect the cells.
But the benefits of sweet basil don’t stop there. Basil also:
  • Improves circulation
  • Increases immune function
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces the oxidation of cholesterol
  • Protects the heart
  • Detoxifies the blood
  • May help control blood sugar levels
In herbal medicine, basil can be taken for:
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Uterine cramping
  • Coughs
  • A wide variety of digestive problems

Using Sweet Basil

The easiest way to use basil is to eat it. It’s delicious and has a sort of spicy-sweet licorice flavor. It tastes amazing in salads and especially with a sun-ripened tomato. While sweet basil is most often included in cooked meals, you’ll get the most benefits when you eat it raw, though combining it with other foods won’t lessen its impact.
You can also add basil to a salad vinaigrette. Simply combine it with extra virgin olive oil, a bit of garlic, and some apple cider vinegar for a healing combination that can be splashed on salads or used on bread.
Finally, a basil infusion is a great elixir when you need the medicinal qualities to soothe a cough or treat cramping. Simply pour boiled water over a handful of fresh basil leaves and allow to steep for at least five minutes before straining and drinking.
To extend your fresh basil as long as possible without having to dry it (and lose some of the flavor) try freezing it. For cooking or use on salads, puree the basil in a food processor and add just enough extra virgin olive oil to make a paste. Press it flat and wrap in freezer paper or a plastic freezer bag if you must. Then, when you need it you can simply break off a chunk to use anytime of year.
Growing your own basil for medicine is a way to take your health and gardening skills in your own hands and to the next level. Both as a preventative measure and a natural remedy for illness, sweet basil is an excellent addition to any budding herbalist’s collection.

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