(NaturalHealth365) Basil is a favorite herb in Italian, Mediterranean and Indian dishes. However, it’s way more than just a delicious condiment; research is showing that adding this fresh herb to your diet also brings a wide range of amazing health benefits that support great health.
Basil is loaded with lifesaving nutrients, vitamins and minerals such as, calcium, vitamin K, cancer-fighting antioxidants and beta-caryophyllene – a key anti-inflammatory compound. I
In addition, consuming basil can help to protect the DNA as well as countering the effects of stress at the cellular level.
Basil health benefits are connected to a long history throughout the world
The healing properties of basil have been revered for thousands of years in Africa and Asia. Today, it’s grown in the Mediterranean, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. There are more than 60 varieties that differ in leaf appearance and pungency, but sweet basil is most commonly used in cooking and culinary practices.
However, enjoying the aromatic flavor of basil can uplift more than just your palette. Let’s take a look at six medicinal benefits of basil for supporting optimal health:
1. DNA protection
Perhaps the most exciting benefit of fresh basil is its protective effect against DNA and genetic damage. Our DNA is the blueprint of life and every bodily process. The chromosomes within the DNA can become harmed or corrupted by exposure to toxins or radiation.
This causes the production of free radicals that can alter the genes and cause DNA mutations linked with cancer. The flavonoids within basil counter this damage at the cellular level.
2. Boosts heart health
The high antioxidant content in basil is also beneficial to heart health. A recent journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity study found basil leaf extract helped regulate cholesterol levels, while research out of China has shown it can assist in lowering high blood pressure.
3. Antibacterial effects
Basil helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria and pathogens. The antibacterial effects of basil are mainly in its essential oils.
It is particularly effective against the bacteria strains Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa – a bacteria linked with lung infection.
4. Immune system benefits of basil
Chronic stress is one of the biggest factors involved with the creation of disease. Even a state of anxiety, over time, can cause the immune system to deteriorate and, in some cases, shut down completely.
However, a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found taking basil extract for 6 weeks resulted in a nearly 40 percent decrease in stress symptoms including an 87.5 percent reduction in stress-related sexual issues.
5. Arthritis and inflammatory conditions
Since basil also has anti-inflammatory properties, it can also help to reduce the symptoms and discomfort of arthritis and other conditions that include swelling and systemic body pain.
6. Diabetes management
Blood sugar levels are at the core of diabetes management. An Azad University of Agriculture and Technology in Kanpur found basil helped to reduce blood glucose levels significantly.
As you can see, fresh basil is much more than just a delicious flavor to add to your favorite dishes. Eating more of it and/or taking a basil supplement can bring a variety of exciting basil health benefits.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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