Diana Nelson

Basil: A Medicine In Your Plate

It is a powerhouse herb, both in flavouring your food and boosting your health.


Basil is a well-known medicinal herb in traditional Asian medicine and is used in treating various chronic diseases. It is also widely used as a culinary herb in the Mediterranean area, where cardiovascular morbidity is very low.

Basil – Nutrition facts

Basil has a low energy value, and not a big amount of protein, very low-fat content. A small number of carbs and almost no sugar. Low fibre and very low glycemic index which is great for blood sugar levels. Basil has an impressive content of vitamin K, a great amount of manganese, and medium iron content.

source: USDA
source: USDA

Basil – Good ‘green’ news

Basil is not just a ‘trendy’ herb or an ingredient in many sauces, but also one of the healthiest herbs. Including it in your diet is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and antibacterial substances.

1Protects from cancer

One of the studies showed that basil has some anti-cancer activity against various cancer cells due to the presence of compounds such as rosmarinic acid, chicory acid, and kaftaric acid. Thus, basil is a potent source of anti-cancer materials.

2Lowers blood pressure

Basil is an aromatic herb with a rich spicy flavour. Due to the fact that basil is part of the mint family, it contains a compound known as eugenol, which has been proven to lower blood pressure in humans. Eugenol acts as a calcium channel blocker. Channel blockers stop the movement of calcium to the muscle cells in the arteries, allowing the blood vessels to relax.

Research has shown that basil thins the blood and relaxes blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely through the body.

3Improves blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels

A 2017 study in diabetic rats showed that basil extract has anti-diabetic properties, including the ability to reduce fasting blood glucose concentration. And a dose of 100 mg/kg of the extract also reduced serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 19.3% and 39.54%. Triglycerides are lipids (waxy fats) that provide your body with energy. The human body produces triglycerides and also gets them from the foods you eat.

4Strengthens bones

Loaded with an impressive 346% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K, adding fresh basil to a meal can help promote bone health. Vitamin K assists with distributing calcium throughout the body, reducing bone loss, and decreasing the risk of fractures. Additionally, it promotes healing by regulating blood clotting.

100 grams of basil exceed your daily amount of vitamin K by + 346% Source: Foodstruct

5Helps digestive health

Basil is very good for the digestive system. The eugenol, contained in the leaves, has anti-inflammatory properties, which have a positive effect on the digestive tract. Basil also helps restore the correct pH level in the body by balancing the amount of acid in the body. It nourishes the beneficial bacteria in the intestinal microflora, helping to boost the immune system and promote healthy digestion.

6Helps to detox your body

According to research, basil protects our bodies from toxins by increasing antioxidant levels and the activity of enzymes that clear and neutralise free radicals. Eliminating free radicals also helps to reduce skin ageing and maintain skin texture and elasticity.

Basil is a miracle herb for the liver – one of the most vital organs of your body. It cleanses the liver and plays a crucial role in preventing fat deposits in the liver. Basil benefits the liver and takes care of your overall health at the same time. It removes toxins from the blood and purifies the blood.

7Has antioxidant properties

Phenolic compounds are secondary plant metabolites such as flavonoids, alkaloids and terpenoids. These compounds play an important biochemical role and benefit human health through their antioxidant properties. Polyphenols can mitigate and reduce free radical damage to the human body.

8A natural antibiotic

Basil is a natural antibiotic as it has antibacterial properties and contains flavonoids which, in combination with essential oils, protect the body on a cellular level. These include estragola, cinerol, eugenol, linalool, myrcene, sabinene, limonene. All these ingredients limit the growth of harmful bacteria (such as E. coli, Listeria, and Staphylococcus aureus).

Basil – Some side effects you may not know about

Basil is generally safe when consumed in small amounts, but some precautions are still necessary.

Can interact with blood thinners

Basil leaves contain large amounts of vitamin K, which promotes blood clotting. A high intake of this vitamin can interfere with the taking of blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin.

If you are taking blood thinning medication, try to consume a consistent amount of vitamin K every day so that your doctor can regulate your medication.

May cause an allergy

It is better not to consume basil if you are allergic to mint, a close relative of basil, or have a suspected basil allergy. In addition, be aware that excess eugenol, which basil contains, can cause an overdose, nausea, dizziness, convulsions, rapid heartbeat or other health problems.

Fun & curious facts about basil

  • Basil was found in mummies in Egypt because the ancient Egyptians used this herb for embalming.

  • Basil has been around for over 4,000 years. Throughout history, basil has been thought to have an almost magical power and was used as an antidote for snake bites.

  • In some parts of Europe, basil was associated with courtship and was given as a token of love.

Basil in the Blue Zones

Basil is an important part of the Mediterranean diet. This herb is particularly popular in the Blue Zones of Ikaria (Greece), and Sardinia (Italy). Long livers often use basil in various dishes and know many recipes with it. Thanks to its positive properties, it prolongs life and protects from various diseases.

Let’s sum basil up

Basil comes in many varieties. This herb may add different nutrients to your diet and can spice up your dishes. Studies show that basil can provide health benefits, such as protection from cancer and controlling blood sugar levels, promoting digestive health and strong bones. Also, basil has antioxidant properties and is a natural antibiotic.

Not enough? Here is more from our colleagues!

Here is a video of Dr. Eric Berg who specializes in Healthy Ketosis and Intermittent Fasting. He is the director of Dr. Berg’s Nutritionals and a best-selling author. In this video, Dr. Berg will tell you about the benefits of basil and why you need it in your life.

Healthypedia FAQ

If you are using dried basil, the general rule of thumb is to use 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of fresh basil specified in the recipe. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, you can use 1-1.5 teaspoons of dried basil.

Look for vibrant green leaves, then check for firmness and, of course, smell the basil. Fresh basil should have a strong, sweet aroma. If the basil doesn't have a scent, it may not be fresh. Check the moisture content: the leaves should be dry to the touch, but not brittle or dried out. If the basil is damp to the touch or slimy, it could have started to spoil.

Basil is a versatile herb that can be used in many types of dishes, including soups, salads, pasta, pizza, sauces and lemonade.

Basil is a delicate herb that can quickly become wilted and spoil if not stored correctly. Trim the ends of the stems with a sharp knife or scissors. Place the trimmed basil stems in a glass or jar filled with about an inch of water. Cover the basil loosely with a plastic bag and store it at room temperature. Change the water every few days to keep it fresh. If you prefer to store the basil in the refrigerator, wrap the cut stems in a damp paper towel and put them in a plastic bag.

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