Basil, a popular herb in the same family as peppermint, is used to season sauces, soups, salads and pasta dishes all around the world. In addition to its versatile flavor, basil also offers many important health benefits that will have you scrambling to add a little basil to your next meal.
One of the primary medicinal uses for basil is for its anti-inflammatory properties. This effect stems from eugenol, a volatile oil in basil that blocks enzymes in the body that cause swelling, making basil an ideal treatment for people with arthritis.
Basil can be used both for its seasoning and healing properties.
Photo by Jasmine&Roses/Courtesy Flickr
Basil, especially as an extract or oil, is known to have exceptionally powerful antioxidant properties that can protect the body from premature aging, common skin issues, age-related problems and even some types of cancer. The herb also contains the flavonoids orientin and vicenin, which are plant pigments that shield your cell structures from oxygen and radiation damage.
Both fresh basil and basil oil have strong antibacterial capabilities. In fact, basil has been shown to stop the growth of many bacteria, even some that had grown resistant to other antibiotics. Basil can be applied to wounds to help prevent bacterial infections. Also, by adding basil oil to your salad dressings, you can help ensure your vegetables are safe to eat.
Basil oil can be used to treat constipation, stomach cramps and indigestion as well as the cold, flu, asthma, whooping cough, bronchitis and sinus infections. It is also a great source of magnesium, an essential mineral that helps the body’s blood vessels relax, which can improve blood flow.
Basil is an easy addition to any diet. Just toss a few basil leaves into your favorite dish for a fresh burst of flavor and be prepared to reap the amazing health benefits at the same time. Here is one of my favorite basil recipes, a cold pasta salad perfect for a hot summer’s afternoon:
This pasta salad is an easy, healthy way to add basil to your meal.
Photo by 3liz4/Courtesy Flickr
Tomato, Basil and Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad
• 8 ounces uncooked fusilli or spiral pasta
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1/2 cup basil, fresh, chopped
• 1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, diced
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Add vinegar, oil and oregano; toss to coat.
3. Fold in tomatoes, basil and mozzarella; season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Serve warm or chilled.
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