Basil is a flavourful leafy green herb native to Africa and Asia and was held to be sacred and noble. It is popularly used as a food seasoning. Basil’s also used in teas and supplements because of its high nutritional value. Here are the health benefits of basil.
1. Highly nutritious
Basil is low in calories and carbs. It is a great source of potassium and also has vitamin A, vitamin K, calcium, iron, and manganese. It’s rich in antioxidants as well as essential oils.
2. Reduces oxidative stress
Basil is rich in antioxidants which fight free radicals in the body and protect the cells from damage which is referred to as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is linked to a variety of health conditions including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.
3. Cancer prevention
There are many varieties of basil. One of the varieties called tulsi and nicknamed Holy basil has phytochemicals that help protect against different types of cancer including lung cancer, liver cancer, oral cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and skin cancer.
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4. Boosts heart health and is beneficial for hypertension
Basil helps boost heart health in a variety of ways. It is rich in antioxidants that protect cells from damage. It relaxes blood vessels and reduces blood pressure.
Basil also prevents free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the bloodstream. High blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol are linked to heart disease. Research shows that basil reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension. It has also been shown to reduce stroke damage and support recovery whether taken before or after the stroke.
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Basil’s antioxidant properties aid in lowering blood sugar and improving fasting blood sugar which helps with managing diabetes. How to live with diabetes
6. Boosts brain health and reduces stress
Cognitive decline is a steadily increasing problem among the elderly. Basil reduces memory loss related to stress and ageing.
It is also thought to reduce cortisol levels which can help people suffering from depression or stress. Manganese in it has been observed to increase the electronic transmitter activity in the brain, an activity that is associated with mental reflexes. Copper in basil also helps stimulate the mind-enhancing its functionality. Basil also increases mental alertness when inhaled as aromatherapy.
7. Has anti-inflammatory properties
Basil has anti-inflammatory properties that help keep the digestive tract healthy. Inflammation is linked to a variety of illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Its anti-inflammatory chemicals also help soothe the burning sensation in the joints caused by arthritis. Beta-caryophyllene in it is associated with effective pain management which is also beneficial for people with arthritis.
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8. Alternative to antibiotics
Basil functions as an alternative to antibiotics for infectious diseases including combating antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
9. Oral health benefits
Basil inhibits the growth of bacteria that cause dental decay.
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Traditional medicinal uses
Basil is one of the oldest herbs known to mankind. Traditionally, it’s been used to treat ailments like nausea and speeding up the healing of bug bite wounds. Consuming basil can also help treat headaches, fever, cold, cough, flu, and sore throat. It is still widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and other holistic medical systems.
It’s important to check with your doctor if you have low blood pressure or a bleeding disorder. Basil is not recommended in high doses for children, breastfeeding women, and pregnant women. You should also stop taking it at least two weeks before surgery or at least speak to your doctor about it.
Because you only use a small quantity of basil when cooking or even in tea, it is not a significant source of most nutrients except perhaps vitamin K and essential oils. It is, however, beneficial addition to your diet even in small quantities and more so as supplements.
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