Basil is a staple herb in Italian pastas and soups, and it belongs to the same plant family as peppermint. There are more than sixty different varieties of basil, and its uniquely fresh taste is so versatile that it is capable of adding something to almost any meal. As it turns out, it is also good for your health in a number of surprisingly powerful ways. Read on to discover nine reasons why you should include more basil in your diet.
1) It has anti-bacterial properties:
Research on herbs has shown that basil’s essential oils can inhibit the growth of dangerous bacteria. Even more interestingly, these oils have shown an ability to defeat species of bacteria that are resistant to standard antibiotic treatment. One experiment revealed that washing fruits or vegetables in a 1% solution of the essential oils that come from basil can effectively rid the produce of unwanted bacteria. This makes basil oil an ideal addition to your salads, as it not only tastes wonderful but also makes sure that your salad is free from bacteria. In addition, basil leaves have antibacterial properties, and some people apply them to minor wounds in order to discourage infection. It is also suspected that basil consumption may be able to help your body to fight bacterial infections such as strep throat and E. coli.
2) It can help to reduce your cholesterol levels:
Basil contains beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body can convert into vitamin A. Various studies have shown that beta-carotene is capable of lowering your cholesterol levels. It does so by preventing cholesterol from oxidizing, thereby preventing it from building up on the walls of your blood vessels. This means you will be less likely to develop hardened arteries, and less likely to ever suffer from a heart attack.
3) It is a powerful remedy for several digestive complaints:
Consuming basil has been shown to help reduce flatulence, bloating and stomach cramps. It is thought that this benefit comes from the fact that basil’s essential oils have an anti-spasmodic influence on the muscles of your digestive system.
4) It can help to reduce unwanted inflammation:
Basil is a source of eugenol, which is capable of inhibiting the action of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. As it turns out, this is the same enzyme that is thwarted by aspirin, ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs, as it promotes the joint swelling that is characteristic of diseases such as arthritis and ulcerative colitis. This means that eating plenty of basil may lead to reduced levels of the pain associated with excessive inflammation.
5) It can help to prevent or destroy yeast infections:
Many people suffer from yeast infections from time to time, and regularly consuming basil helps to protect your body from these. In addition, basil may help you to recover more quickly if you are already dealing with a yeast infection. It is speculated that the essential oils found in basil are toxic to the Candida albicans yeast that is responsible for this common infection.
6) It promotes cardiovascular health:
Basil is an excellent dietary source of magnesium, and magnesium improves your cardiovascular health by relaxing your blood vessels. When your blood vessels are relaxed, your blood flow is improved, and you are also less likely to suffer from irregular heart rhythms or palpitations.
7) It can relieve stress:
Basil is an anxiolytic, which means that it helps to ease anxiety and nervousness. It also has mild sedative properties, so it may help you to relax and fall asleep during periods of stress.
8) It may help to protect you against cancer:
Basil is an excellent source of antioxidants, which protect your body from damage caused by free radicals. It is widely thought that this damage is the root of many cases of cancer, so adding plenty of basil to your meals may decrease your likelihood of developing malignant tumors. Further, there are flavonoids in basil, and these have been shown to protect cells from radiation.
9) It promotes youthful looking skin:
The essential oils found in basil can be used to make facial moisturizer and healing treatments for your hair. In both cases, this should reduce dullness and encourage youthful radiance. Some acne sufferers have also found that the oils that come from basil are effective at reducing the appearance of redness and zits.