One of the most commonly used herbs especially in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine, basil is known for its highly fragrant leaves and versatile use in salads, soups, and entrees. In addition to its powerful aroma, basil is rich in vitamin K and a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin A.

Disease/Ailments:

Chronic inflammation
Rheumatoid arthritis
Cardiovascular disorders

Health benefits:

DNA Protection: Orientin and vicenin are two water-soluble flavanoids in basil that protect the white blood cell structure as well as the genetic material from radiation and oxygen-based damage.

Anti-bacterial: Basil’s volatile oils have been shown to protect against pathogenic bacterial growth.

Anti-inflammatory: A compound in basil’s oils has an enzyme-inhibiting effect that makes basil an anti-inflammatory food.

Good Source of:

Vitamin K, A, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese

Purchasing, storing, and enjoying:

Purchasing: Try to purchase fresh basil over dried, because the flavor is far superior. Fresh basil leaves should be vibrant and deep in color, free from dark spots or yellowing.

Storing: Fresh basil leaves should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel where it will hold for up to 4 days.

Enjoying: Since the oils in basil are highly volatile, it is best to add the herb near the end of the cooking process. This way will retain its maximum essence and flavor.

  • Combine basil, olive oil, and garlic, and pine nuts to make a great diary-free pesto sauce or spread.
  • Basil can be added to any dish or salad to add a fragrant aroma.
  • Fresh basil and strawberries infused in water is refreshing and a healthy alternative to sugary beverages.

Resources & recipes:

Creamy Zucchini and Basil Soup: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2009/09/creamy-zucchini-and-basil-soup.html

Asparagus Pesto Pasta: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2009/07/asparagus-pesto-pasta-salad.html
Tomato Avocado Basil Dressing: http://theveganroad.com/recipes/tomato-avocado-basil-dressing/

 

References:

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/beautiful-basil

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=85

Bagamboula CF, Uyttendaeleand M, Debevere J. Inhibitory effect of thyme and basil essential oils, carvacrol, thymol, estragol, linalool and p-cymene towards Shigella sonneiand S. flexneri. Food Microbio 2004 Feb;21 (1):33-42. 2004.

Calucci L, Pinzino C, Zandomeneghi M et al. Effects of gamma-irradiation on the free radical and antioxidant contents in nine aromatic herbs and spices. J Agric Food Chem 2003 Feb 12; 51(4):927-34. 2003.

Opalchenova G, Obreshkova D. Comparative studies on the activity of basil–an essential oil from Ocimum basilicum L.–against multidrug resistant clinical isolates of the genera Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas by usi. J Microbiol Methods. Jul;54(1):105-10. 2003.

Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. 1988. PMID:15220.


About the Author

Ashley Kim

"Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners." – William Shakespeare

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