It may look like an ordinary weed growing by the side of the road, but did you know that there are many benefits of basil? Especially for your health!
Basil, also known as Ocimum basilicum, is a member of the mint family. It adds flavour to food and the nutrients it contains can be good for your health. The word ‘basil’ comes from the ancient Greek word ‘basilikhon’, which can be translated as ‘royal’.
This wonderful herb is now grown all over the world, with over 60 different varieties available, including sweet basil, holy basil, bush or Greek basil, Thai basil and many others. While there are many different types of basil, the most common and widely available for cooking is sweet basil.
Holy basil, a related but distinct species, is widely used in dietary supplements and herbal teas. This plant is used medicinally in the South-East Asian traditions of Tamil and Ayurvedic medicine.
Including basil in your diet, using it as a herbal medicine or even using basil essential oil could all provide potential health benefits. It’s a good source of calcium and vitamin K, as well as other antioxidants. However, these wonderful compounds evaporate from the herb as it dries.
Dried basil is much cheaper and more convenient than fresh basil, but fresh basil has a stronger flavour. Basil is a versatile herb that can be used to add colour and flavour to a wide range of dishes. It also has the potential to offer significant health benefits. So, let’s have a look at the health benefits of basil!
What are the benefits of basil?
1. Basil is effective against infections.
Among the many benefits of basil, its ability to fight bacteria is particularly well known. The essential oils in the herb have shown promise in preliminary studies for treating a variety of bacterial infections, including those of the respiratory tract, urinary tract, digestive system and skin. These claims are supported by the results of this study.
2. Effective in reducing oxidative stress.
When it comes to antioxidants, basil is second to none. Antioxidants are compounds that neutralise free radicals in the body. Extensive research has established free radicals as hostile substances that can severely damage cells and increase vulnerability to a wide range of diseases and conditions.
Basil also contains flavonoids, which boost the immune system, delay the onset of age-related decline and defend against free radical damage to cells.
3. Has a positive effect on the skin
The essential oils in basil are powerful and healing and can be used to thoroughly cleanse the skin. It is also a lifesaver for people with oily skin.
Basil contains a component called camphene, which makes it effective as an astringent and enables it to remove excess oil, dead cells and dirt that clogs the skin’s follicles. Even the most stubborn blackheads and whiteheads succumb to its power.
4. Protects against cardiovascular disease
Basil contains eugenol, a compound that has the ability to block calcium channels and may help lower blood pressure. The essential oils in basil also help to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Magnesium is also present in basil and this mineral helps to improve blood circulation by facilitating the relaxation of muscles and blood vessels.
5. Helps reduce the risk of cancer.
Phytochemicals can be found in holy basil. These are compounds found in plants that have been scientifically shown to protect against cancer. They appear to do this by increasing antioxidant activity, altering gene expression, inducing cell death and reducing cell proliferation.
6. Helps manage blood sugar
Including more basil in your diet may help lower blood sugar levels. People with diabetes may benefit from taking basil extracts. In particular, sweet basil leaf extract can help lower blood sugar levels.
The herb has a very low glycemic index. Basil essential oil may help reduce triglyceride and cholesterol levels, two indicators of diabetes risk that tend to persist.
7. Reduces mental stress
Mental stress can cause the body to produce free radicals. Basil has strong potential to act as a natural adaptogen, a herbal medicine that helps the body adapt to stress and counteract the negative effects of stress factors.
It does this by stimulating the neurotransmitters responsible for regulating hormones that induce happiness and energy. Its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties also help with stress.
8. Fights inflammation
Inflammation, caused by oxidative stress, is a contributing factor in many diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. As basil has strong anti-inflammatory properties, it may be useful in treating a wide range of conditions.
Essential oils found in basil, such as citronellol, linalool and eugenol, have been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation in the body.
Basil is generally safe when consumed in moderation, but caution is advised for certain health conditions and medications. Vitamin K, which is abundant in basil leaves, promotes healthy blood clotting. High levels may counteract the effects of blood thinners.
In contrast, basil extracts can thin the blood, which can be a problem if you have a bleeding disorder or are due to undergo surgery in the next few days.
People who are already taking medication to lower their blood pressure or diabetes medication should be cautious about taking basil supplements as they may also lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Your doctor may need to reduce the dose of your medication.
Holy basil should be avoided by women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Taking holy basil supplements may have a negative effect on sperm and may cause contractions in pregnant women.
Disclaimer: This is for informational purposes only.
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Source: Medical News Today
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