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20 Lesser Known Health Benefits Of Basil Leaves, Nutrition & Recipes

Also known as Saint Joseph's wort, basil is considered to be the world's most sacred, healthiest and effective medicinal Ayurvedic herb. The queen of herbs is packed with medicinal values and nutrients. There are around 35 different types of basil species and the most common amongst that is the holy herb which can be used to cure [1] more than 300 different ailments. Easily growable in your garden, the herbal wonder is widely used in cooking as well. The freshness of the basil leaves makes it a central ingredient in vegan recipes.

basil leaves image

A common ingredient in a variety of dishes, the herb can not only boost the taste of your dish but also boost your immunity. Sweet basil or Genovese basil is the type that is most commonly used for cooking purpose and holy basil is known for its healing qualities. In folk medicines, especially of India and Southeast Asia basil is considered as a sacred herb.

One of the most prominent herbs[2] in the Indian subcontinent, basil can be used for acne, mental alertness, head colds, intestinal gas, stomach spasms etc. The aromatic herb from the mint family can surprise you with the abundance of benefits and the goodness it can do your body.

Nutritional Value Of Basil Leaves

The energy in 100 grams of basil leaves amount to 22 calories. The other nutrients are 0.64 grams fat, 0.034 milligrams thiamine, 0.076 milligrams riboflavin, 0.902 milligrams niacin, 0.209 milligrams pantothenic acid (B5), 0.155 milligrams vitamin B6, 0.80 milligrams vitamin E, 0.385 milligrams copper, and 0.81 milligrams zinc.

100 grams of basil leaves contain approximately

  • 2.65 grams carbohydrates
  • 1.6 grams dietary fibre
  • 3.15 grams protein
  • 68 micrograms folate (b9)
  • 11.4 milligrams choline
  • 18.0 milligrams vitamin C[3]
  • 414.8 micrograms vitamin K
  • 177 milligrams calcium
  • 3.17 milligrams iron
  • 64 milligrams magnesium
  • 1.148 milligrams manganese
  • 56 milligrams phosphorus
  • 295 milligrams potassium
  • 4 milligrams sodium
  • 92.06 grams water
basil leaves nutrition

Benefits Of Basil Leaves

From supporting your cognitive function to managing arthritis, the queen of herbs has a lot of advantages for your body and mind.

1. Fights cancer

The phytochemicals in basil leaves are proven[4] to aid in preventing cancer. Basil increases the antioxidant activity in your body and can alter the gene expressions. It also has the ability to discard or kill the cancerous cells in the body and stop the tumour from spreading. Studies have shown that the phytochemicals protect the cells from the damage caused by chemotherapy or radiation. The phytochemicals such as eugenol, rosmarinic acid, apigenin, myrtenal, luteolin, β-sitosterol, and carnosic acid may help in preventing the onset of the liver, oral, skin, and lung cancers. One of the studies revealed that it can restrict the development of breast cancer [5] .

2. Prevents bacterial growth

Basil can help prevent your body from [6] harmful bacterial growth. The volatile oils such as estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene are asserted to have restrained the growth of bacteria. Studies reveal that these oils are more effective than the antibiotic treatments.

3. Rich in antioxidants

Basil leaves aid your body in the fighting against free radical cells that can damage your DNA structure and cells. The antioxidant nature of the herb, that is, the water-soluble flavonoid antioxidants viceninare and orientin will protect [7] the white blood cells from any damage. The antioxidants restrict the unwanted alterations of chromosomes that can lead to the growth of cancerous cells and cell mutations.

4. Reduces inflammation and pain

The leaves of the holy herb can help fight any sort of inflammations. The eucalyptol in the basil leaves reduces the [8] inflammation and pain. It enhances the blood circulation around the area of the wound, thereby reducing the swelling. The enzyme inhibiting oils lowers the inflammation, which are the root causes of several diseases such as inflammatory [9] bowel conditions, heart diseases etc.

5. Acts as an adaptogen

Herbs or plants that support your adrenal system and helps reduce your stress levels are termed as an adaptogen. Basil leaves are highly effective [10] adaptogens, which can aid in balancing your hormones and managing your levels of daily stress. Consuming basil leaves will keep you stress-free as it can decrease your blood sugar levels and increase your[11] antioxidant activity. The adaptogenic herb combats your stress levels, which can come in handy for your daily life of hustle and bustle.

6. Improves cognitive function

The manganese content in basil leaves is said to have a positive impact in improving your brain function and maintaining a [12] healthy brain. Manganese helps in improving the electronic transmitter activity in the brain, which results in better mental reflexes. Likewise, the copper content also helps in stimulating the brain and improving your [13] cognitive function.

7. Reduces arthritis

The anti-inflammatory properties in the basil leaves are enough proof to point out the positive impact the herb has in helping with cases of [14] arthritis. The beta-caryophyllene in basil has antiarthritic property and helps in reducing the swelling and inflammation in cases of rheumatoid arthritis.

8. Protects against diabetes

The anti-inflammatory properties of basil leaves are one of the properties that make the herb an answer to many ailments and diseases. In the case of diabetes, basil leaves aid by reducing the glucose levels in your blood. The essential oils in basil leaves can help in [15] lowering the triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which is a risk to diabetic patients. Studies have revealed that basil supplementation is possibly useful in keeping diabetes and the complications pertaining to the disease in control.

9. Boosts immunity

The immunomodulatory effect of basil leaves has been shown to have an impact in improving the immune system. The essential oil, in basil leaves on consumption, acts as a [16] protective layer, helping your body from bacteria and any pathogens. By alkalising your body, basil leaves aid in the growth of healthy bacteria while decreasing the growth of the harmful ones.

10. Aids liver function

Being hepatoprotective in nature, basil leaves are extremely beneficial to your body. By producing detoxifying enzymes, basil leaves help improve the functioning of your liver. It will create better antioxidant defences and reduce the level of fat [17] build up in the liver. Through these, the basil leaves not only improve your kidney function but also detoxifies your whole body.

facts about basil leaves

11. Fights premature ageing

The antioxidants in basil leaves such as the water-soluble flavonoid antioxidants viceninare and orientin can help in slowing down the early effects of [18] ageing. It is effective in destroying the harmful molecules and free radicals, that damage your skin. The herb helps your skin from the oxidative stress, fighting against the effects of premature ageing.

12. Boosts bone strength

Being an excellent source in vitamin K, basil leaves can improve your bone density. This can restrict the development of fragile bones and bone-related injuries[19] , especially in the case of women. Women are more likely to be affected by osteoporosis, a case of weak bones, which can be treated with basil leaves as it will improve the process of calcium absorption.

13. Prevents eye disorders

Basil is highly beneficial in the treatment of fungal, viral or bacterial infections in the eyes. The anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of basil protect your eyes from damages caused by environmental impurities free radicals. It also helps in serious eye [20] ailments like glaucoma and macular degeneration as well. It is asserted that the herb has an effective role in the treatment of cataracts and other vision-related issues.

14. Helps during post menstrual syndrome (PMS)

The manganese content in the basil leaves is extremely beneficial in balancing your hormones. The cramps, fatigue and the mood swings caused during [21] PMS can be exceptionally troubling. The manganese can help reduce the pain, stress and fatigue.

15. Protects blood vessels

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of the basil leaves can improve the functioning of muscles, especially the ones controlling the function of the[22] blood vessels. Basil leaves can help improve the contraction and relaxing of the vessels and remove the damage-causing plaques.

16. Improves oral health

Basil leaves are effective in controlling mouth plaque. The antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of the herb have found to be having a [23] positive effect on individuals suffering from periodontal diseases. Basil leaves improve your oral health without causing any side effects.

17. Boosts abdominal health

Being gastroprotective and anti-inflammatory in nature, basil leaves are effective in treating stomach ache, flatulence, acidity, and [24] constipation. It has also been proven to be effective in treating stomach ulcers.

18. Improves skin quality

Basil is widely known for its purifying properties. The antibacterial and antifungal elements in the leaves can help get [25] rid of acne, blackheads, marks, and pimples. The antibiotic properties play a major role in restricting the growth of B. anthracis and E. coli bacteria that cause skin infections. Likewise, the regular consumption of basil leaves can improve the symptoms of vitiligo and treat [26] eczema.

7 Ways To Include Basil Leaves In Your Skin Care Routine

19. Improves hair quality

Basil can help improve hair growth by [27] strengthening your hair follicles. The herb works from the root of your hair, rejuvenates the hair follicles and promote blood circulation to your scalp. It treats dandruff by controlling the growth of dandruff[28] causing fungus. Basil leaves are also said to prevent premature greying of hair.

20. Boosts Energy

The copper content in basil leaves creates a component called adenosine triphosphate, that helps in eliminating exhaustion and fatigue. Incorporation of basil in smoothies or juices is known to improve the energy levels.

Healthy Basil Leaves Recipes

1. Loaded spinach salad with avocado & basil

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well [32]
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 5 ounces baby spinach leaves
  • 5-7 basil leaves
  • 1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into chunks
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • a pinch or two of salt
  • 1 cup of water.

Directions

  • Put the quinoa and water in a saucepan.
  • Cook until the water is absorbed.
  • Heat the oil in over medium heat.
  • Add the chickpeas and salt and sauté until the chickpeas are browned and crispy.
  • Put the basil leaves, garlic, lemon juice, avocado, and salt in the blender.
  • Blend and add 1/4 cup water and make it into a paste.
  • Add the baby spinach to a large bowl, and top with the quinoa, chickpeas, and tomato chunks.
  • Add the avocado-basil paste into the bowl and mix well.
  • Enjoy!

2. Tomato basil soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 peeled tomatoes
  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced.

Directions

  • Heat the olive oil in a pot in medium heat.
  • Add the onion and stir often.
  • Add the tomatoes and the stock.
  • Bring to the contents to boil and simmer.
  • Cook until soup is slightly thickened.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir in the basil and enjoy!

Other Uses Of Basil Leaves

  • It can be used to calm the stomach, help soothe digestion and clear out the feeling of feeling too full.
  • It can be chewed to cure coughing and colds, basil tea is also effective in this case.
  • A basil facial steam can be used to cure headaches.
  • Used for insect stings and bites.
  • Basil leaf oil is used to treat ear infections.
  • Basil leaf infused tea is highly sought after for its health benefits.
  • It is a widely used food item in making marinades, vinegar, oils, herbal butter, pesto, dressings, sandwiches, bread, pasta, desserts and so on.

Warnings

  • It may slow blood clotting, thereby increasing the [29] bleeding in case of wounds or cuts. If you having any surgery, stop using basil leaves two weeks prior to it.
  • It might cause complications during the time of [30] pregnancy and breastfeeding. The antifertility effects of the herb are not good for pregnant women.
  • The high levels of potassium in the leaves can lower your blood pressure. People with blood pressure issues should try avoiding the[31] regular consumption.
View Article References
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  2. [2] Wongsheree, T., Ketsa, S., & van Doorn, W. G. (2009). The relationship between chilling injury and membrane damage in lemon basil (Ocimum× citriodourum) leaves. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 51(1), 91-96.
  3. [3] Simon, J. E., Quinn, J., & Murray, R. G. (1990). Basil: a source of essential oils. Advances in new crops, 484-489.
  4. [4] Baliga, M. S., Jimmy, R., Thilakchand, K. R., Sunitha, V., Bhat, N. R., Saldanha, E., ... & Palatty, P. L. (2013). Ocimum sanctum L (Holy Basil or Tulsi) and its phytochemicals in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Nutrition and cancer, 65(sup1), 26-35.
  5. [5] Shimizu, T., Torres, M. P., Chakraborty, S., Souchek, J. J., Rachagani, S., Kaur, S., ... & Batra, S. K. (2013). Holy Basil leaf extract decreases tumorigenicity and metastasis of aggressive human pancreatic cancer cells in vitro and in vivo: potential role in therapy. Cancer letters, 336(2), 270-280.
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  8. [8] Szymanowska, U., Złotek, U., Karaś, M., & Baraniak, B. (2015). Anti-inflammatory and antioxidative activity of anthocyanins from purple basil leaves induced by selected abiotic elicitors. Food chemistry, 172, 71-77.
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  30. [30] Narayana, D. B. A. (2011). Effect of Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn) on sperm count and reproductive hormones in male albino rabbits. International journal of Ayurveda research, 2(1), 64.
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  32. [32] Loaded spinach salad with avocado and basil. Retrieved from, https://happyhealthymama.com/recipes-with-basil.html

Read more about: nutrition benefits basil leaves
Story first published: Saturday, December 15, 2018, 11:00 [IST]
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