Basil is one of herbal plant which the leaves is commonly use in culinary purpose. Basil or Ocimum basilicum is member of Lamiaceae or mint family. The name basil is refer to a greek word basilikohn which means royal, which reflect the ancient culture of Greek people which consider this herb as noble and sacred plant. In India, basil is a symbol of hospitality while in Italy, basil is the symbol of love. While the word ocinum also derived from Greek word which means smell. Basil is annual and shrub plant which native in Asian and Africa also in other tropical, subtropical country. It was brought to Greece by Alexander the Great and brought to England from India
Basil has square, branching stem that can grow from 1 to 10 feet in height. It also produce black seed which called nutlets. Basil flower may vary in color. The part that commonly use in basil plant is the leaves. Basil leaves color may also vary from light green to dark green and it has smooth texture. Actually there are many species of basil but Ocimum bassilicum is the most common basil leaves which used by people around the world.
May be you wonder how basil got unique aroma? Basil contains many essential oil such as methyl chavicol, eugenol and linalool. The sweet flavor of basil comes from the methyl chavicol components, while the floral scene comes from linalool. Basil also contain some amount of eugenol which is responsible to rise the spicy pungent taste in basil.
Basil leave are very low in calories and Glicemyc index, it is also good source of some vitamins such as Vitamin K, A and C. Consuming 2.5 grams of basil, you will just get less than 1 calorie. In 2.5 grams of basil, you can find 96.6 IU of vitamin A. Basil is also contains fiber which can be useful to the body.
Fresh basil, chopped (21,20 mg) calories : 5
Vitamin K 98%
Vitamin A 6%
Vitamin C 5%
Omega-3 fats 3%
Benefits of basil leaves
There are many beneficial effect that you may get by consuming basil leaves, below are some of them :
1. Prevent diarrhea
Basil is reported by some studies having anti-bacterial effect. The phytochemicals components in basil leaves can fight the infection of Staphylococcus aureus which is the main cause of diarrhea. Adding some basil leaves into your meal can help you to cure and prevent the body from diarrhea
2. Reduce inflammation
Inflammation usually occur in the body due to the presence of oxidative stress. Inflammation on certain vital organ can be harmful. Basil contain anti-inflammatory properties such as essential oil including citronellol, eugenol, and linalool. Those essential oils is effective to prevebt the body and reduce the risk of inflammation such in arthritis and heart disease case.
3. Lower cholesterol level
According to a study, basil has significant effect in reduction of cholesterol level in the body. The phytochemical and antioxidant component in basil leaves lower the LDL or Low density lipoprotein and prevent the accumulation of cholesterol in blood vessel which later can cause atherosclerosis.
4. Prevent cardiovascular disease
Basil is very useful for keeping normal circulation of the blood. It promotes healthy blood vessel function and keeping normal blood pressure. Basil leaves contains anti-inflammatory properties which can prevent platelet aggregation which can cause arteries clot and blocking the blood flow.
5. Calming stomach
This is why Italian people loves to add some basil leaves into their meal, basil leave has calming effect which can get rid of the full feeling in stomach. It also can minimize the gastric acid level and prevent from vomiting.
6. Relieve sting wound
If you got sting by bee or other insect and you dont find any medicine or antiseptic to relieve it, you can use basil to relieve the pain and wound. Just simply crush or chew the leaves and rub it to your skin. The anti-inflammation properties of basil leave will be effective to cure the wound caused by sting.
7. Treat ear infection
Basil leaves contains essential oils which has anti-inflammatory effect and can help to cure ear infection.
8. Control blood sugar and prevent diabetes
According to a study by Department of Home Science at Azad University of Agriculture and Technology in India, basil leaves has significant effect in lowering blood sugar level and maintain it in normal level. This function is may become preventive for the body in developing diabetes.
9. Reduce oxidative stress
Some studies have reported that basil has natural component called adaptogen which are serve strong effect to reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a condition in the body where there is imbalance level of free radical and anti-oxidant who fight it. This condition may lead to damage of several organs and causing serious health disease.
10. Prevent from cough and cold
Basil leaves essential oil has anti-viral effect which means can prevent your body from influenza virus infection. Consuming basil leaves can not only get rid of the virus but also reduce the symptom such as cold, cough and running nose.
11. Prevent from cancer
Who think that basil leaves have ability to prevent cancer? The high antioxidant component in basil leaves has effective impact to fight free radicals which is the main factor causing DNA damage that later causing the excessive cells growth known as cancer.
12. Treat headache
Basil leaves can be used to treat headache. The flowery and aromatic scene may calm the nerve and reduce the impulse of blood vessel in brain. Just put some basil powder in a pot, smell i and , let the steam reach your face and head for some minutes until you feel better.
13. Reduce antibiotic resistance
Our body may develop antibiotic resistance due to missuse of antibiotic. Basil leaves contain anti-bacterial properties which can inhibit pathogen bacteria growth and decrease the antibiotic resistance.
14. Keeping healthy skin
Basil leaves contain Vitamin C and other phytochemicals which bring benefits to your skin. Consuming basil leaves regularly may improve your skin health by get rid the free radical effect and keep moist skin.
15. Treat fungal infection
If you have problem on your skin which caused by fungal infection, just chew or crush some amount of basil leaves to the area which got infected. Basil leave essential oil has anti-fungal properties which can kill and reduce the fungal growth
16. Protect liver function
According to a study which published in the Journal of Medicinal Food reported that consuming basil leaves regularly can improve the number of detoxifying enzyme in liver. This may help the function of liver and reduce the fat cell which accumulate in liver that can cause liver disease.
17. Improve digestion
Basil leaves contains some amount of fiber which can help to improve better digestion and make a healthy bowel movement. It also has calming sensation who make you feel good after eat. It also can improve appetite and reduce stomach cramps.
18. Control body acidity
Basil has ability to control body acidity by balancing the pH level. Normal pH level is required in maintaining metabolism and the function of several hormones and enzymes, it also important to keep healthy immune system, since the normal flora or good bacteria in our body can only live in certain pH level.
19. Improve sexual desire
In Italy, people consider basil as the symbol of love and has used basil leaves as natural aphrodisiac since long ago. The aroma of basil is believed has ability to increase libido or sexual desire. Actually the essential oil in basil responsible in the improvement of blood flow and mood so people will experience better sexual activity.
20. Alleviate depression
Basil contains some amount of magnesium which is important in nerve function. It has calming effect which can help you body to alleviate depression. Just by smell the aroma or consuming amount of basil, you can get this benefit.
21. Maintain strong bones and teeth
Basil is excellent source of Vitamin K which is known has great effect in keeping healthy bone and teeth. Vitamin K can help the body to absorb calcium and prevent bones from losing their mass.
22. Improve vision
High amount of Vitamin A in basil leaves has good effect in human vision. Vitamin A is needed to keep the eye muscle and lens in normal function.
Basil is consider save and even so, the excessive consumption is not allowed and possibly carcinogenic. People under medication with blood thinner medicine such as warfarin should avoid to consume basil since it contains high amount of Vitamin K. Most people think that basil is just food ingredients but who knows it get a lot of benefits. Try to consume basil regularly in your meal by chopped or just put it in salad, pasta, rice, or other kind of cuisine.