Basil, also known as great basil or Saint-Joseph’s-wort, is a culinary herb in the mint family, Lamiaceae. For thousands of years, basil has been cultivated in India. Then, the “king of herbs” found its way to cuisines in Southeast Asia like Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia as well being an essential herb in Italian cuisine.
Basil contains many health beneficial properties that can help improve your nutritional intake. Here are the 7 health benefits of basil.
1. Basil may combat oxidative stress in your body.
Basil may act as a natural adaptogen, meaning that basil can help your body adapt to stress and the harmful effects of stressors on the body. For example, an animal study reported the antistress activity with basil in rabbits. The researchers observed increased enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidants in rabbits that ate two grams of basil leaves per day for 30 days. Cardiovascular and respiratory protective responses to stressors improved after consumption.
2. Basil could help improve your bone strength.
Just two tablespoons of vitamin K could help improve the integrity of your bones containing 29 percent of the vitamin K’s daily recommendation. Research has shown that people with higher levels of vitamin K have higher bone density, while those with lower levels of vitamin K are at greater risk of osteoporosis.
3. Basil may help protect against arthritis.
Arthritis is an umbrella term for joint pains or joint diseases. Arthritis could include stiffness and swelling along with the pain. Basil contains high amounts of a compound called beta-caryophyllene, which has been found to treat arthritis. Also, the high amounts of vitamin K in basil could help treat osteoarthritis.
4. Basil may help reduce chronic inflammation in the body.
Chronic (long-term) inflammation has been linked to several complications like atherosclerosis, hay fever, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Basil could help soothe chronic inflammation. Holy basil could reduce swelling by up to 73 percent in less than 24 hours because of an active component called eugenol.
5. Basil may have antibacterial effects.
Laboratory studies suggested that sweet basil has antibacterial components because of the compounds it contains like eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, limonene, cineole, estragole, and linalool. These compounds helped restrict the growth of bacteria like Escherichia coli O157: H7, Yersinia enterocolitica, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus. Many of these bacteria could cause illnesses like strep throat, cholera, staph infections, and food poisoning.
6. Basil is rich in antioxidants.
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can cause oxidative stress, which can damage the cells, proteins, and DNA directly in your body. Antioxidants neutralize those free radicals by being the subject of the reaction instead of the body’s important molecules. Basil is loaded with antioxidants including vitamin C, which has been should to fight oxidative damage.
7. Basil may have anti-aging properties.
Oxidative stress can lead to mental and physical aging when it damages your DNA and proteins. The rich antioxidants in basil can fight the effects of reduced cognitive abilities and wrinkles in the skin.