Basil is a widespread herb that is popular in many types of cuisine. However, a growing number of people are using it as a natural curative and believe it possesses many benefits. But, are they right, or is there a limit to the advantages of basil? In this article, we’ll take a deep look into what kind of benefits you might get from basil, including whether it is good for you or if you should ignore it.
Is Basil Good For You?
Basil is a healthy addition to most diets and has a full range of various nutrients and other health benefits. As a result, many people integrate this food into their diet, including a supplement or a fresh ingredient to multiple meals, like salads, pizza, and even on different meat-based dishes.
Understanding the various benefits of this item will help make it easier if it is suitable for your needs. You also need to have a feel for its taste, which can be pretty potent. Basil is not considered bitter, but some people may find its rather pungent taste too bitter for their preference.
Typically, basil adds a touch of pepper to your food, as well as a slight aftertaste of anise. So, when served and prepared correctly, it can make your food taste fresher and better. But, again, you may not enjoy this ingredient in your meals, depending on how much you like rich and pungent flavors.
Why is Basil Good For You? What Are The Benefits?
Basil is good for you because it has a rich variety of nutrients (tested and verified by medical science) and other benefits (less established). In addition, Basil has a rich history of use in many cultures, including traditional Chinese medicine, holistic medical care, and more modern Ayurvedic medicine.
Currently, scientists are studying basil and trying to figure out what, if any, benefits basil does possess. Early studies for some of these benefits have been telling. Though each of the benefits below has not yet been confirmed by medical studies, some early reports show that basil could help:
- Minimize memory loss and stress in people as they age
- Decrease depression symptoms associated with stress
- Improve blood sugar and benefit type 2 diabetes
- Minimize stroke-related damage before or right after a stroke
- Boost healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Reduce dental decay by minimizing the growth of bacteria
- Thin blood like Asprin to help with heart attacks and strokes
- Decrease the risk of ulcers by reducing Aspirin damage to the gut
- Provide some anticancer benefits, particularly for breast, colon, and pancreas tumors
- Create a deep sense of calm when inhaled in aromatherapy
We cannot emphasize enough that these benefits have yet to be fully confirmed through medical science. Some were noted in a single study, while others were common in a few more. Nevertheless, the results have been very positive, but restraint and proper expectation management are critical here.
Talk to your general care practitioner and dietitian to learn more about the benefits of basil. They can perform a simple allergen test and a blood test to see if basil is suitable for you. Before visiting them, though, you should understand the types of nutrients common in basil leaves.
Nutrients in Basil
You’ll get a specific range of vitamins and nutrients added to your diet when you eat basil. We broke down the percentage of your required daily intake (RDI) for each of these nutrients and listed them below to make it easier for you to understand this additive:
- Calories: You get around 0.6 calories per fresh chopped leaves or five calories per crumbled dry leaves when eating basil.
- Vitamin A: Expect around 3% of your RDI with fresh leaves and 4% with crumbled.
- Vitamin K: Add about 13% to your diet with fresh and 43% with crumbled leaves.
- Calcium: Get around 0.5% of your calcium with fresh leaves and 4% with crumbled powder.
- Iron: Expect a similar iron content in both fresh and dry leaves as you get calcium.
- Manganese: Provide yourself with 1.5% of your RDI with fresh and 3% of your RDI with dried leaves.
Dried basil provides more nutrients and vitamins than fresh basil, partially because it is more compact and dense than fresh basil. However, as you can see, the nutrient levels are not necessarily significant except for vitamin K. Few other foods provide you as much vitamin K, making this a good choice for those deficient in it.
Beyond these nutrients, basil may also provide you with various compounds and oils that help to provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory help. Talk to your dietitian about these benefits to learn more about which of these oils helps you the most. If you don’t like basil’s flavor, you may get these oils in supplement form.
What Happens if You Eat Too Much Basil?
Overeating basil shouldn’t cause significant health problems. However, it may cause troubles with blood clotting and, if you’re taking blood thinners, it should be avoided. In addition, anyone with an allergy to basil will experience an immediate reaction if they try to eat it. Some individuals may also feel slight bloating and experience diarrhea when overeating basil, though these symptoms are rare.
Is Basil Good For Your Stomach?
Basil has been traditionally used as a digestive aid in many cultures, particularly for indigestion, heartburn, and low acidity in the stomach. Throughout Europe and Central Asia (particularly in India), basil has been used for a myriad of different conditions, such as:
- Diarrhea and other loose stool problems
- Constipation or other bowel movement issues
- Indigestion troubles and upset stomachs
- Many types of skin diseases (as a topical agent)
- Mucous discharge management and other issues
While many traditional medicine practitioners swear by basil for these purposes, their claims are not yet backed up by facts. That’s why it is so important to talk with your dietitian about any life changes. They can help to prepare you for any unique challenges that you might experience.
Just as significantly, a dietitian can help you see through questionable claims and understand precisely what you’re getting with food or supplement. For example, they can let you know about any studies that confirm the benefits of basil, as these could help point you in the right direction.
Is Basil a Superfood?
The jury is still out on whether basil is a superfood. While it has a high level of nutrients and a reasonably balanced caloric level, it has yet to be studied enough to fall into this category. In addition, while some studies seem to indicate basil may help with anti-aging, not enough evidence has yet emerged.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t integrate basil into your diet and get some benefits. Even if its many claimed advantages have yet to be fully confirmed, its reasonably high level of nutrients makes it an excellent addition to just about any diet, as long as you aren’t allergic or intolerant of basil.
Other sites, like Ecowatch, have also reported that basil has been used in traditional medicine as an antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal food. In addition, some studies show a potential benefit in managing type 2 diabetes, while other show they could help with digestion troubles.
These benefits have yet to be confirmed and established by the FDA or other regulatory groups. So while you could see some advantages, it is essential to remember that nothing is certain with basil and that you should understand you may get no benefits from eating basil.
Can I Eat Basil Leaves Raw?
Basil leaves are perfectly healthy to eat raw and are usually better if you eat them sooner rather than later. As with any type of plant, you need to clean them up properly in cool water to break apart dirt and stains. Try to rinse it off in a large bowl to break apart the dirt properly.
You can then store your basil in the fridge in a plastic bag or an air-tight container for several days. Fresh and raw basil leaves should last up to five days in the refrigerator before they start to become questionable. Pay attention to any signs of molding or mildew developing on your leaves.
These signs include things like small white spots, black or rotting areas of the plant, and any other imperfections that may develop on the leaves. These minor issues can be troubling and may indicate that your basil needs to be thrown away. Never eat basil leaves with mold or growths.
Is Eating Basil Leaves Good for You?
Eating basil leaves is perfectly healthy and may be one of the best ways to get the nutrients from this leaf. That’s because preparing raw leaves through boiling or other methods may remove some of their nutrient benefits. As a result, it is often best to consider preparing and serving these leaves fresh for your meals, placing them on salads or other dishes in a way that you enjoy.
Before eating any basil leaves, though, you should make sure to clean them and remove the stems. The stems aren’t too problematic but may be more challenging for some people to digest. Others may simply dislike the taste of the stems. Cut them off the tip of the leaf to keep it safe. Throw the stem away or shop it up for powder, as you may use basil powder for many meal situations and needs.
Washing your leaves is crucial because they may have residual bacteria, viruses, or even pesticides on the surface. Even if you grow your basil leaves without pesticide or fertilizer, you should still clean them to eliminate bacteria and other types of potential growths. Doing so will help keep your leaves safer to eat and minimize any risk of sickness or stomach issues.
List of Basil Uses
Basil can be used in many ways and can be integrated into your diet with relative ease. For example, you can take supplements from a local health food shop. These supplements can be incorporated into your daily supplement and vitamin diet or can be eaten whenever you want in your day.
However, there are a few other ways you can integrate fresh basil into your life. These simple methods should help to make it easier to get this food into your life. First, we’ll break down a few of the most common of these dishes to give you an idea of what to expect for your food needs:
- Place basil leaves or powder on top of your salads to boost their flavor and nutrient levels
- Add basil leaves on top of pizza or pasta dishes to produce a fresh array of tastes
- Blend fresh basil leaves into your sauces or toppings to make them healthier
- Puree them into your soup or shop them up for an extra soup flavoring option
- Sprinkle crumbled basil leaves onto ice cream or other desserts
However you plan on using basil, make sure that you talk to your dietitian before changing your diet. Often, you may find that you are allergic to a food and need to adjust how you eat it. Or you may need to find an alternative that works better for your needs and doesn’t cause any adverse effects.
A simple allergy test should help to diagnose this potential issue. However, these tests will expose you to a small portion of basil, such as a skin test, to see how you react. If your skin reacts poorly and develops a rash or hives, you may have to stay away from basil to ensure that you stay healthy and keep your body safe.
Don’t Neglect This Beneficial Herb
If you’re interested in integrating basil into your diet, it is vital to find an option that works for your needs. You should easily find some fresh leaves, powder, or supplements that you can use. Supplements are a good choice if you don’t enjoy the taste of basil but still want its benefits. Understand that many of the benefits listed here are still under review in medical tests and studies.
Hey, I’m Joey. I’ve been cooking since I was a little kid and love everything about it. You can find my writing about food, kitchen appliances (such as blenders) and much more. Thanks for stopping by!