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Basil (Sabja, Tukmaria) Seeds: Nutrition, Health Benefits And How To Use

You must have probably tasted basil seeds in many desserts and drinks like falooda and sherbet. These basil seeds come from the sweet basil plant (Ocimum basilicum L.) which is different from the Holy basil or tulsi plant. Basil seeds, also known as sabja seeds and tukmaria are tiny, black oval-shaped seeds that are loaded with nutrients and provide umpteen of health benefits.

Basil seeds have been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of diarrhoea, ulcer, dyspepsia and other illnesses. They are also used as a diuretic, antispasmodic, stomachic and antipyretic [1].

basil seeds

Nutrition Of Basil Seeds

Basil seeds contain protein, fat, fibre, carbohydrates, water and ash. They are a good source of minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc and manganese [1]. Basil seeds also contain phenolic compounds like rosmarinic, caftaric, caffeic, chicoric, p‐hydroxybenzoic, p‐coumaric, protocatechuic acid and rutin [2].

Basil seeds and chia seeds look quite similar, but they are different in many ways.

Health Benefits Of Basil Seeds


1. Aid in weight loss

Basil seeds contain soluble dietary fibre which helps keep your stomach full for longer and provides a feeling of satiety. A study showed that obese patients who consumed 2 g of sweet basil seeds extract with 240 ml of water before lunch and supper had a significant decrease in body mass index (BMI). However, this was seen among high dose users who consumed more than 50 per cent of the extract [3].


2. Improve blood sugar

Basil seeds are considered good for diabetes patients. The soluble dietary fibre present in basil seeds helps control blood sugar levels which is effective for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Consumption of soluble dietary fibre also decreases the risk of developing diabetes [4].

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3. Decrease cholesterol levels

Consumption of basil seeds can be good for your heart too. The fibre content in them can aid in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. This reduces the risk of heart disease.


4. Increase energy levels

Basil seeds are a good source of iron, an essential mineral required for blood production. Iron is an important component of haemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells (RBCs) that transports oxygen throughout the body and helps in providing energy to the body. Lack of iron in the body causes fatigue and irritability [5].


5. Support bone health

Magnesium found in basil seeds plays an important role in maintaining healthy bones. Increased intake of magnesium has been shown to increase bone mineral density and helps prevent the onset of osteoporosis [6].

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6. Treats common cold

The presence of zinc in basil seeds can help strengthen the immune system and treat common cold. It can lower the duration and severity of cold symptoms by acting as an astringent on the trigeminal nerve [7].


7. Improve brain function

Basil seeds contain manganese, an essential mineral needed for healthy brain function. It binds to neurotransmitters and triggers the movement of electrical impulses throughout the body, resulting in the proper functioning of the brain [8].


8. Help in digestion

When basil seeds are soaked in water they swell up and produce a gelatinous mass due to the polysaccharide layer present on the outer epidermis wall of the seed. This gelatinous substance and the presence of dietary fibre in basil seeds have been shown to aid in the digestion process [9].


9. Lower blood pressure

As basil seeds act as a diuretic, they can help lower blood pressure by flushing excess salt and water out of the body. Diuretics also aids in relaxing and widening the walls of blood vessels which makes it easier for the blood to flow through.

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10. Ease stomach cramps

Basil seeds have antispasmodic properties which work by slowing down the natural movements of the gut and relaxing the smooth muscles in the stomach and intestines. This helps in relieving stomach cramps.


11. Manage cancer

The anti-cancer activity of basil seed extracts has been studied. Basil seed extracts have been shown to have a cytotoxic effect on human osteosarcoma cell lines (MG63). Consumption of basil seeds can cause these cancer cells to die [10].


12. Prevent bacteria-causing diseases

The antimicrobial activity of basil seed extract has the potent ability to stop all kinds of pathogens including pseudomonas aeruginosa, a type of bacteria that causes infections in humans [10].


13. Enhance skin and hair health

Basil seeds contain a significant amount of protein, iron, zinc and magnesium which keeps your hair shiny and promotes hair growth. The antioxidant activity of the seeds helps in stimulating the growth of new cells, thus improving skin health.


How To Use Basil Seeds

• Soak 1 tablespoon of washed basil seeds in 1 cup of water (use more water if desired).
• Allow the seeds to soak for about 15 minutes.
• As the seeds swell up you will see a grey-coloured gel coated around the seed.
• Strain the soaked basil seeds and add them in your dishes.


Uses Of Basil Seeds

• Basil seeds are used as a thickening and stabilising agent in the food industry.
• Basil seed gum can stabilise ice cream, salad dressing, jellies, low-fat whipped cream and used as a fat replacement in yogurt and mayonnaise.
• Basil seeds can also be used to thicken recipes like soups, sauces and desserts.
• Use basil seeds in smoothies, milkshakes, lemonade, salad dressings, pudding, oatmeal, whole-grain pancakes, whole grain pasta dishes, bread and muffins.

Note: When using basil seeds in baked goods grind them and use them than using soaked basil seeds.

How Much Basil Seeds To Eat Per Day?

Consume one to two teaspoons of basil seeds per day.


Basil Seeds Recipes

Sabja lemonade [11]


1 large lemon
• 2 tbsp sugar
• A pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp sabja seeds
• 600 ml water
• ½ tsp black salt (optional)


Clean and wash the seeds.
• In a bowl, pour 1/3 cup lukewarm water and add the sabja seeds. Let it swell up.
• In a bowl, add lemon juice, sugar syrup, salt and black salt. Mix it well and add sabja seeds along with the water and stir well.
• Pour this beverage into the glasses and serve chilled.


Mango sherbet


• 2 medium or large alphanso mangoes
• 1-2 teaspoon of sabja seeds
• Powdered jaggery as required
• 3-4 cups of chilled water
• ½ or 1 tbsp of lemon juice
• Ice cubes (optional)


In ½ cup of water soak the sabja seeds until it swells up.
• Peel and chop the mangoes and blend it in the blender to make into a puree.
• Add jaggery as required and blend it well along with the mangoes.
• Strain the soaked sabja seeds and add them to the sherbet
• Stir and pour the mango sherbet into the glasses and serve chilled [12]

Common FAQs

Q. Is it good to drink sabja water daily?

A. Yes, add two teaspoons of sabja seeds in water and drink it daily.

Q. How long soak basil seeds?

A. Soak basil seeds for 15 minutes.

Q. When should I take Sabja seeds?

A. Drink sabja seeds soaked in water in the morning.