Basil is an aromatic herb that belongs to the Laminaceae family, which comes from tropical regions of Asia such as Iran or India, among others.
It is a tasty green leafy herb native to Asia and Africa. It has been known since Antiquity for its medicinal virtues.
Basil also has behind it different legends, myths and cultural aspects that characterize it. For example, some African legends claim that this herb protects against scorpions and in some European traditions they claimed that it symbolized Satan.
Hundreds of years ago in Greece the basil was considered a symbol of misfortune, hatred and poverty, but today in Italy it represents love.
It belongs to the mint family and there are many different varieties.
Popular as a food seasoning, this aromatic herb is also used in teas and supplements which may provide a number of health benefits. Excellent for culinary use, due to its excellent aroma and delicious flavor.
Most common varieties.
The basil that we generally buy for cooking is the Ocimum basilicum.
There are many different varieties of O. basilicum, including:
- sweet basilBasil: The most cultivated and popular basil, known for its use in Italian dishes. It is usually sold dried in supermarkets. It has a licorice and clove flavor.
- greek basil: It has a strong aroma but a mild flavor, so it can replace sweet basil. It forms a compact bush with small leaves and grows well in pots.
- Thai basil: It has an anise and licorice flavor and is commonly used in Thai and Southeast Asian dishes.
- cinnamon basil: Native to Mexico. It has a flavor and aroma similar to cinnamon. It is usually served with legumes or sautéed and spiced vegetables.
- basil lettuce leafAppearance: It has large, wrinkled, smooth leaves with a licorice-like flavor. It is used in salads or mixed with tomatoes and olive oil.
Since relatively small amounts of basil are used in cooking, this herb provides few vitamins and minerals in our daily diet.
Below is the most significant nutrient content of 1 tablespoon (about 2 grams) of sweet basil:
|chopped fresh leaves
|dried, shredded leaves
RDI: Recommended Daily Allowance
Although dried basil is more concentrated in nutrients, it is used less in recipes than fresh basil. Therefore, neither is a significant source of most nutrients except vitamin K.
Basil also provides beneficial plant compounds that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other health properties.
In addition, these compounds give basil its “essence”, i.e. its characteristic aroma and flavor. This is why oils derived from basil and other plants are called essential oils.
Basil is not only a popular remedy for ailments such as nausea and insect bites, but is also widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and other holistic medicine systems.
Scientists are currently investigating the possible medicinal benefits of basil. Basil extracts or essential oils, which provide concentrated amounts of the plant’s compounds, are often tried instead of whole leaves.
Studies are often conducted to determine if substances are worth turning into drugs and testing on people.
What is basil used for?
It is an excellent medicinal plant to treat various ailments of the body, so here we have a list of the components that make up its composition and how it helps our body:
It contains essential oils, which are excellent antioxidants for the body, ideal for improving the immune system and increasing the body’s defenses.
It contains linalool, estragole, cienol and eugenol, linalyl acetate, saponins, flavonoids such as kenferol, esculoside and quercetroside, and caffeic acid.
benefits of sweet basil
The following is a summary of the possible benefits of sweet basil extracts, based primarily on mouse and laboratory studies. It is not known for certain whether all of the results would occur in humans.
Preliminary studies suggest it may:
Uses of basil.
We want to share with you some quick and natural recipes to improve some of the conditions mentioned above.
Boil basil leaves with cardamom, then add milk and sugar to it. Eating it every 2 or 3 hours is ideal for bringing down a fever.
Chewing 12 leaves twice a day helps reduce stress and calm the nervous system.
Improve the headache if you place basil leaves in boiling water as an infusion and take a few spoonfuls every hour.
For bites, wounds or any skin problem, it is recommended to crush basil leaves until smooth and then place them on the affected area.
Remember to consult your doctor before starting any herbal treatment.
Basil flavors tomato dishes, salads, zucchini, eggplant, meat seasonings, stuffings, soups, sauces and much more.
Pesto, a green, creamy sauce, is one of the most popular uses of basil. It is usually made with crushed basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and pine nuts, although there are dairy-free options as well. Try it as a sauce or as a spread on a sandwich.
Basil complements other herbs and spices such as garlic, marjoram, mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary and sage.
If you have fresh basil, take only the leaves, not the stem. It’s usually best added at the last stage of cooking as the heat can diminish the flavor and bright green color.
If a recipe calls for fresh basil but you only have dried basil, use only 1/3 of the scoop, as dried basil is more concentrated.
Purchase, cultivation and storage.
Although fresh basil provides a stronger flavor, dried basil is cheaper and more recommended.
Sweet basil is the most common, but you can find other varieties at local markets or more specialty stores, such as Asian food stores. You can also grow it yourself.
You can grow large basil plants anywhere with nighttime temperatures above 15.5℃ for at least two months. He is sensitive to the cold and likes to be exposed to the sun throughout the day.
You can grow basil from a seed planted in the ground or from a cut stem of another plant that you put in water until the roots start to grow. Basil will thrive in a well-drained garden or patio pot.
Gather the leaves as you need them, but don’t just pluck them from the plants. To promote good growth, cut the stem down so that only two to four leaves remain on the plant.
Put the fresh basil stems in a jar of tap water to keep the leaves fresh for a few days. It’s debatable whether you should refrigerate it, as cold temperatures can discolor the leaves.
If you have a lot of fresh, you can dry the leaves and store them in a jar with an airtight lid. Avoid shredding the leaves until you need them, as this helps preserve their essential oils, aroma, and flavor.
How to get seeds.
In order to get our basil seeds, we have to let the plant release its flowers in spring or summer and wait for them to dry out.
It is always interesting to try to delay the moment when the basil arrives to flower in order to be able to prune it from time to time, in such a way that it will take a little longer to bring out the flower and therefore we will benefit a lot from this plant longer.
How and why to plant basil in the garden.
The advantage of having basil near tomatoes, peppers, zucchini or cucumbers is that it helps us to fight pests such as whiteflies or aphids, some even claim that it enhances the flavor of the tomato.
How to reproduce by cuttings.
The reproduction of basil is very simple, the first thing is to get a sprig of basil, we can ask a friend or take it from a plant that we already have. You have to take these small branches that come out of the main stem, similar to tomato suckers, and cut them, from there the miracle will take place 😉
It is generally safe when consumed in small amounts, but some precautions should be taken.
Basil leaves are rich in vitamin K, which helps in blood clotting. High intake could interfere with blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin. If you’re on a blood thinner, try to get consistent amounts of vitamin K daily so your doctor can regulate your medication.
Conversely, basil extracts, like those found in supplements, can thin your blood, which can cause problems if you have a bleeding disorder or impending surgery.
Additionally, people taking medications to lower blood pressure or diabetes should be careful with basil supplements because they can lower blood pressure and blood sugar. Your doctor may need to reduce the dose of your medicine.
Avoid holy basil if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Animal studies suggest that holy basil supplements can negatively affect sperm and trigger pregnancy contractions. The risks during lactation are not known.
Although basil allergies are rare, a few cases have been observed in people who reacted to pesto.