Basil is far more than just a tasty herb for Italian sauces, salads and pesto. It contains a ton of phytonutrients that are necessary for balance within the body.
Try to use fresh basil instead of dried. Either grow it outdoors in its own pot (so that you can bring it in when the weather gets cold) or grow it in your garden during the spring and summer. Down in Florida here, it thrives year long. I have to cut it back occasionally as it can grow quite large. I dry it in my dehydrator when I do cut it back, and although I prefer using fresh basil, there is always dried on hand.
Basil is a storehouse of minerals, including potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron and copper:
Potassium is necessary for cellular respiration, and important in regulating blood pressure. Each cell in the body has a potassium-sodium pump, and works on an intricate balance of these two minerals.
Magnesium is a mineral which is lacking in most of our diets. It’s estimated that up to 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. Restless leg syndrome abounds here in the U.S., and is easily alleviated with a proper dose of magnesium. I find that when I exercise I have to increase my magnesium intake. If you find that you have restless leg syndrome, you may want to increase your magnesium intake, as this nutrient not only benefits your sleep (restless leg syndrome contributes to insomnia) but also your heart. Magnesium is very important to the cardiovascular system of the body, and helps prevent heart attacks. Eating basil regularly will increase your magnesium levels.
Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor to the enzyme, Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), which provides cellular repair and acts as a powerful antioxidant. Manganese also helps form connective tissues, helps absorb calcium, aids in proper functioning of the thyroid, balances sex hormones, regulates blood sugar, and increases metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.
Iron is a necessary component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, and increases oxygen within the blood cells.
Copper is essential to the body and is the third most prevalent mineral in the body. It helps with bone formation, circulation, heart rhythm, hair growth (rumor has it that copper can reverse grey hair), is necessary for the eyes, and slows aging.
In addition to minerals, basil has Vitamin A, essential for healthy eyes, skin and mucus membranes, is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-cancer properties; Vitamin K, which is necessary for blood coagulation and bone strengthening; Vitamin C, the number one immune system booster, and powerful antioxidant; and contains folate, a water soluble B vitamin necessary for cardiovascular health, mental health, neural development (folic acid is prescribed to pregnant women to prevent neural defects in their babies) and as a cancer preventative.
You can also find essential oils in basil, such as citranellol, linalool, eugenol, citral, limonene and terpineol, which are anti-inflammatories, cancer preventatives and anti-bacterial.
Basil is a great addition to your daily diet. Grow it, eat it, love it!
Beautiful Beneficial Basil Pesto Recipe:
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine the the first three ingredients in a food processor and pulse until coarsely blended. Add in Parmesan cheese. Slowly add the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
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