Basil has some very remarkable benefits going for it. It is used to add flavor in almost all recipes, but what you don’t know is that it’s a nutrient-dense herb with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pain-tranquilizing properties. It’s time you consider cooking more food with basil among other things, especially because of its health-boosting benefits.
Now more than ever, there’s enough information why basil is found in almost every home across the world. It contains only 22 calories (per 100 grams), which means it’s the ideal diet food for most people. It is used as a medicinal ingredient for Ayurvedic medicine, making it a popular herb in India. Also, there are many different types of basil available today based on its taste and smell. There’s Sweet Basil which is the most commonly used basil for Italian cuisine, and there are Lime and Lemon basil. (1)
Below are some key points about the many surprising benefits of basil, backed by science. What’s more, you can kick off your basil-rich diet with the help of some delicious recipes we’ve featured for you after.
1. Basil Defends Against Lifestyle-Related Chronic Diseases
Lifestyle-related chronic diseases are also put down as non-communicable diseases that arise after long years of reduced physical activity, smoking, alcoholism, and continuation of an unhealthy diet. Lifestyle choices play a major role in determining the mental and physical state of condition.
Allowing a better lifestyle choice which includes a healthy basil-rich diet can prevent such physical, chemical, psychological, and metabolic stress from arising. Because of the antioxidant, immune-boosting, and antimicrobial properties of basil, consuming basil regularly offers many long-lasting solutions. (2)
The antioxidants present in basil fight bacteria and other toxins present in the white blood cells. For proper cell rejuvenation and growth, oxidative stress must be completely avoided. This also contributes to many lifestyle-related chronic diseases.
Also, you’d be interested to know that basil helps fight free radicals. These can cause serious cell damage and most often turn healthy cells and tissues into destroying themselves completely. (3)
Key Takeaway: Basil is a healthy ingredient that can be added in almost all recipes, and not just in Italian. You could protect your cells from the severe effects of lifestyle-related chronic diseases by consuming fresh basil leaves regularly. All this for good reason.
2. Basil Reduces Your Chances of Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, lifestyle factors such as healthy eating, body weight, and fitness can contribute to the prevention of cancer. In order to reduce your chances of cancer, making healthy choices is simply an easy choice. (4)
Eating many plant-based foods each day can increase your nutritional value to fight against any cell activity that leads to the formation of cancer cells in the body. Also, it protects the body against the tumoricidal effects of radiation. Radiation can cause serious DNA damage. And because of the chemo and radio-protective benefits of basil, patients can either reduce the formation of cancer or prevent it from sustaining with effect. (5)
The phytochemicals present in basil influence the overall chemical processes. These reduce any kind of inflammation inside our bodies. The kind that could encourage the growth of cancer cells and quicken oxidative damage.
Key Takeaway: Implementing an all natural basil-rich plan as a natural remedy for the prevention and treatment of cancer is a wise decision. This supports your body from advanced medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, while supporting your immune system to fight cancer cells effectively.
3. The Nutrients Present in Basil have a Positive Effect on Cigarette Addiction
So, you want to quit smoking? There’s obviously a good reason why you want to, but you must have asked yourself what happens soon after you’ve stopped smoking? The nicotine withdrawal from the body has some serious side effects. They can affect your mental health and immune system.
The conditions that arise from immediate nicotine or smoking withdrawal are depression, insomnia, metabolism disorders, and cognitive problems. (6)
The vitamin K present in basil, in high amounts, increases the blood level which directly impacts improved cognitive performance in adults. It also promotes lower blood pressure and lowers the risk of stroke. The antioxidants present fight for a stronger immune system. While the presence manganese help in proper circulation of blood to various organs and blood vessels. (7)
Key Takeaway: When you combine all these benefits, you can cope with nicotine withdrawal in the most effective manner. Cigarette addiction and dependence is a growing condition with many psychological and physical side-effects. Basil is one of the most effective herbs to eat to increase your chances of coping against the symptoms.
4. Basil May Help Prevent Vitiligo
Vitiligo is a form of autoimmune disease which is characterized by white patches that appear on different parts of the body. This happens due to ruined skin pigmentation. The cause of vitiligo is still unknown but many sources place emphasis on emotional stress, sunburn, or a weak immune system.
Vitiligo can cause white patches of skin around the mouth, navel, nostrils, rectal areas, eyes, and on the hands and feet.
Because of the significant anti-aging and antiviral benefits of basil, it can be consumed on a daily basis to prevent or treat vitiligo. Basil is rich in vitamin A and vitamin C which are contributive antioxidant nutrients to cure vitiligo. Eating more basil increases your vitamin intake which leads to lower chances of vitiligo.
The research conducted on mice, with visible signs of vitiligo, were treated with regular doses of these essential vitamins and minerals such as selenium and zinc. As a result, the method showed drastic improvement in repigmentation and a 70% increased chance of curing vitiligo. (8)
Key Takeaway: If you are suffering from vitiligo, you need to consider including basil leaves to your daily diet as they are one of the most effective foods for skin repigmentation. The vitamins present in basil have strong antioxidant and antiviral properties that cure vitiligo and protect your skin cells from damaging.
5. Basil May Lower Your Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes a form of metabolic disorder conditioned by the way your body processes glucose or blood sugar. This means that your body is unable to produce insulin or that it resists it persistently.
Basil contains three effective acids namely apigenin, ursolic, and linalool acid that encourages proper lipid metabolism and antiviral activity. This also regulates normal kidney functions and ideally, protects the body from surfacing high blood sugar problems.
In a study conducted on diabetic patients in India, basil leaf extracts drastically decrease signs of high blood sugar levels. Another study conducted on hypercholesterolemic rats showed that the ethanol extract found in basil helped reduce high cholesterol levels. (9)
To vitalize your entire body and protect against toxic chemicals, the extracts made from basil are very beneficial.
Key Takeaway: The inability to produce insulin results in type 2 diabetes which is a serious health problem that can last for many years. Around 300 million people have been diagnosed with this problem. The studies show that those who eat basil regularly have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
6. Dietary Calcium Present in Basil May Improve Bone Health for Women
To promote bone health, adequate consumption of calcium is very important. It prevents osteoporosis which is a serious bone disease. That said, osteoporosis can occur due to weak bones and low bone mass, especially in older adults. One in two women are affected by this bone condition, studies suggest.
Taking supplemental tablets is not the way to boost bone health. Studies suggest that women who get most of their daily calcium diet from natural foods such as basil are more likely to have healthier bones than those women who consume calcium tablets. Calcium is important to increase bone density. It also showed an increase in estrogen metabolites, which is essential to maintain overall bone density. (10)
Basil is rich in calcium as a daily dietary source. They’re convenient herbs because you can add them to almost all recipes, plus they’re incredibly delicious and fresh.
Key Takeaway: Studies suggest the individuals with sensitive bones can consume calcium-rich foods such as basil for better mineral absorption. For stronger bone density, basil can make a great addition to your diet and they’re easily digested.
7. The Estragole in Basil has Protective Effects for the Treatment of Lung and Liver Conditions
Air pollution is one of the major causes of severe lung and liver conditions such as asthma attacks, COPD, and liver diseases. To treat the kind of inflammation caused by polluted air, you need foods that are rich in essential oils.
Essential oils present in certain plants and herbs are rich with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The estragole compound found in basil increases the body’s immune system by decreasing the level of cytokine IL-6 by 96 percent and IL-8 by 87 percent. The level of liver and lung cell damage caused by air pollution is paramount, hence basil helps in reducing your chances of developing the symptoms. (11)
Key Takeaway: Basil eaters have a much lower risk of developing serious liver and lung conditions caused by air pollution. It can fight cell damage effectively and make your immune system stronger.
8. Basil is an Adaptogenic Herb which Helps Lower High Cortisol Levels
It’s important to know that basil is not just flavor to a steaming bowl, it’s a refreshing treatment for the body, mind, and soul. If you don’t already know about the stress hormone cortisol, let me inform you that high cortisol levels coupled with chronic stress can drastically affect the way your body functions.
They contribute to many chronic diseases from thyroid conditions to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases to reduced bone health. All major diseases are linked associated with cortisol levels, so it’s about time you took that into consideration too.
Basil is an adaptogenic herb which means they heal and protect the body while maintaining your optimal physiological system. For balanced cortisol levels, basil helps regulate normal blood pressure and hormones. The antioxidant properties of basil are essential for releasing excessive stressors from the body. (12)
This means basil help regulate normal hormone levels in your body. While fighting fatigue in healthy individuals. (13)
Key Takeaway: Being an adaptogenic herb, basil can help moderate normal cortisol levels. They regulate blood pressure, fight fatigue, and prevent hormonal imbalance. This helps you feel younger and be healthy.
9. Basil Works Against Many Skin Infections
Skin infections often arise from acne, dryness of skin and scars. This can transpire due to sun exposure, dehydration, pollution, etc.
Basil can help people suffering from various skin infections. After you eat basil, the strong and bitter taste penetrates deep into your skin tissue, normalizing any kind of skin disease. It also helps enhance complexion. Plus, it possesses many therapeutic qualities for versatile insect bites and ringworms.
It also provides essential infection and wound protection. Many studies have shown that basil boosts the body’s defense system against infective threats. Its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties are incredibly strong for treating versatile skin infections.
It can also be used as a body cleanser with ulcer-healing, cough-resistant, and other bacterial mouth infections. (14)
Key Takeaway: Basil blocks all kinds of infections in the skin. It improves the body’s defense system by treating various skin conditions including rashes, mouth ulcers, acne, and scars.
10. Eating Basil Regularly Prevents Signs of Ageing
The gentle taste of basil has many useful advantages for people experiencing the harmful effects of ageing. If you don’t want your body to give away your age, it’s time you do something about it.
Basil offers many essential nutrients that work against factors such as hormonal shifts, stress, less collagen, soreness, and other problems such as wrinkles, blemishes, hair loss, etc. To protect your body effectively, the basil extract eliminates dangerous molecules and defends against the effects of free radicals.
This is most effective for protecting the liver, brain, and heart system. The antioxidants are youth-enhancing substances that penetrate deep into the skin to work at a cellular level to provide complete health nourishment.
What your looks say about your health is very important, especially once you start noticing visible signs of ageing. More than a handful of basil everyday may help protect against age-related problems. (15)
Key Takeaway: Basil is a good source of essential oils and antioxidants, two nutrients that are paramount for anti-ageing. It contains powerful antioxidants which acts as a feel-good compound for the body. If you want to protect your body against the immediate signs of ageing so you feel younger every day, basil is a useful herb to have.
11. Basil Possess Pain-Dulling Benefits
Basil is essential for alleviating pain.
The strong scent and flavor of basil comes from the compound eugenol. As natural herb laden with lots of other nutrients, eugenol is a building block compound with many antimicrobial and pain-tranquilizing properties.
When the body responds to stress, the hydrophobic antioxidant volatile essential oils present in basil are responsible for healing and soothing the pores. They’re incredibly light, which means they pass through pores within the skin effortlessly. Furthermore, this helps the body in dealing with pain. (16)
Basil also has many immune-enhancing properties. This is especially beneficial for blood pressure control and optimal brain function. The way your body responds to pain is ruled by your cognitive system, but you can enhance your body’s defense system against pain by eating basil regularly. (17)
Key Takeaway: Basil is rich in eugenol which keeps your body’s defense system fired up. Eating sufficient servings of basil with food or in the form of tea, will force your body to use energy and respond to pain more effectively.
12. Basil Reduces Swelling Caused by Inflammation
Swelling is a very common condition that occurs when parts of your body including the organs and skin enlarge. The cause of such swelling is due to inflammation.
More often than not, swelling goes unnoticed, especially if its internal. And only sometimes does it cause intense pain which leads to other serious symptoms. The most common symptoms of swelling caused by inflammation include vomiting, pain, and fever. (18)
Once you’ve determined the diagnosis for your swelling, you may be able to either prevent or reduce the serious effects by eating basil regularly. A healthy lifestyle change is always a positive thing.
The E-BCP is an active ingredient found in many herbs including basil, rosemary, black pepper, and oregano. Studies show that it helps reduce inflammation in the body. Not only that, it also has healthy benefits for treating osteoporosis in the body. This ingredient sparks a transformation in the way our body cells behave, especially when we experience swelling due to inflammation.
The study to determine this effect was conducted on mice with inflammation. And based on the research, 70 percent of cases saw reduced swelling. (19)
Key Takeaway: Basil contains an active ingredient called E-BCP or beta-caryophyllin. It can be used against inflammation that causes swelling and pain. Based on your diet, consuming at least 200 milligrams of basil daily can show reduced signs of swelling in a matter of days.
10 Delicious Basil Recipes To Enjoy
This is your one-stop spot for cooking some delicious dishes with basil that is good for you. Now that you already know how basil adds more than just flavor to food, it’s time trade in your usual recipes for one of these appetizing meals. The only thing better than drinking basil tea is cooking basil leaves in a totally different way. From potato salads to pastas to sandwiches, there are way too many basil recipes to try this season.
1. Pork Chops With Basil and Peaches
In the mood for juicy pork chops? Combine peaches and basil to cook something your whole family will love.
2 - center-cut pork chops
2 tbsp - olive oil
3 - peaches, pitted and sliced
2 tbsp - lemon zest
2 tbsp - lemon juice
1 tsp - sugar
1/2 tsp - salt
2 cups - baby spinach
1/4 cup - fresh basil leaves
1 tsp - butter
Red chili flakes to serve
Salt and pepper to serve
Sprinkle pork chops with Kosher salt and pepper. Cook the pork chops on medium-high heat for 6 minutes on both sides. Transfer pork chops to a plate and cover with foil.
Cook the peaches, sugar, lemon zest, chili flakes, and salt in the same skillet. Cook until the peaches soften.
Serve the spinach under the pork chops. Dividing the spinach in two plates. Cook the leftover pork chop juice with butter and lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the basil leaves.
Add the sauce, fresh basil leaves, and cooked peaches on top of the pork chops. Serve hot.
2. Potato Basil Salad with Shallots
Need to get food fast on the table? Treat your loved ones to a delicious and easy basil potato salad.
2 tbsp - kosher salt
3 pounds - potatoes
1/4 cup - sour cream
1/4 cup - plain yogurt
2 tbsp - mayonnaise
2 tbsp - honey
4 - shallots, sliced
2 cups - basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil potatoes in a pot of water with salt. Once they are boil, drain immediately, chop and transfer in a bowl.
In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream, and honey. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Combine together the potatoes with the mayonnaise mixture.
Serve with shallots and basil leaves. Serve immediately.
3. Braised Garlic Eggplant with Basil
You’ll be amazed at how easy this eggplant recipe is to make for a memorable family meal.
1/4 cup - soya sauce
1 tsp - sugar
2 tsp - chili bean sauce
1 tsp - cornstarch
3 tbsp - vegetable oil
1 pound - chinese eggplant, sliced
2 tsp - minced garlic cloves
1/4 tsp - salt
1/4 cup - basil leaves
To make the sauce, stir soya sauce, sugar, chili bean sauce, and 1 1/2 cups of water in a bowl. In another bowl, stir 1/4 cup water with cornstarch. Set aside.
Cook the garlic and eggplant on medium-high heat until softened.
Add the soya sauce and chili bean sauce mixture to the eggplant and stir continuously for 15 minutes.
Add the cornstarch mixture and wait for the gravy to thicken.
Add basil leaves and serve immediately.
4. California BLT with Basil Mayonnaise
The classic California BLT can be made in 30 minutes. In basil mayonnaise sauce it offers maximum flavor and it’s family-friendly too!
3 slices - bacon
2 slices - white-bread or whole-wheat bread
1 - tomato, sliced
1/2 - avocado
1/4 cup - basil leaves
2 tbsp - olive oil
1/2 tsp - lemon juice
1 - garlic clove
1/2 cup - mayonnaise
Lemon zest to serve
For basil mayonnaise: add the basil, lemon juice, oil, garlic, and zest in a food blender. Blend until smooth and finely chopped. Add the mayonnaise and mixture into a small bowl. Set aside in refrigerator for a week.
To make the sandwich: Fry bacon in a large skillet on medium-high heat, as desired.
On a toasted bread slice, spread the basil mayonnaise and place the sliced tomato, lettuce, fried bacon, and avocado slices. Finish with another toasted slice on top. Serve immediately.
5. Basil Chicken in Coconut Gravy
This delicious basil chicken recipe is way better than what you’re cooking for dinner tonight.
6 - chicken thighs
1 tsp - olive oil
2 cans - coconut milk
2 tbsp - basil leaves
2 tsp - salt
3/4 tsp - pepper
1 1/2 tbsp - yellow curry powder
3/4 tsp - chili powder
1 - large red onion
8 - minced garlic cloves
2 - jalapenos, chopped
1 tbsp - cornstarch
1 tbsp - cold water
1 tsp - ginger, minced
1/2 cup - cilantro, chopped
Sprinkle salt and pepper on each chicken thigh.
Using a non-stick skillet, add one tsp oil and add 3 chicken thighs. Cook on medium-high heat. Flip each side after 2 minutes, until browned on each side. Repeat the process with the remaining chicken thighs.
Add coconut milk, 2 tsp salt, basil, pepper, yellow gravy, and chili powder in a crock pot.
Combine with red onions, chopped jalapenos, and garlic.
Transfer the browned chicken thighs into the pot.
Cook on high heat for around 5 hours. After, add ginger.
Add cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl. Stir until smooth then add it to the cooker.
Cook for another 10 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Drop some freshly chopped cilantro. Serve hot.
6. Caprese Spaghetti with Cheese and Basil
Want something to warm up the house for the long winter day? This delicious caprese pasta is a must-try this season!
1/2 pound - spaghetti pasta
3 tbsp - olive oil
1 - yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp - garlic, minced
3/4 cup - Italian dressing, zesty
2 1/2 cups - cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup - basil, sliced
3/4 cup - mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
Boil the pasta in salt water.
Cook onions and olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
Combine 1/2 cup dressing and tomatoes for cook for 6 minutes.
With a wooden spoon, mash the cherry tomatoes and cooking until thickened. Sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste.
Add the spaghetti to the tomato sauce.
Add basil, the remaining dressing, mozzarella cheese, and red pepper flakes.
7. Basil and Lime Sorbet
Basil can be cooked in a number of ways- this lime basil sorbet is the best-ever healthy recipe for the summer season.
1 1/2 cups - sugar
2 - fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup - corn syrup
3/4 cup - basil leaves, chopped
2 cups - water
1 tbsp - lime rind, grated
Add sugar, corn syrup, and lemon juice in a skillet and cook on medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add basil leaves to cook for another 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a small bowl. Set aside.
Add 1 cup juice, water, and 1 tbsp lime rind. Using a sieve, strain the mixture.
Transfer mixture into a can. Freeze accordingly. Cover and freeze for another hour.
8. Homemade Basil Pesto
The dressing that compliments any dish. This traditional pesto recipe is an all-time-favorite on all tables.
2 cups - basil leaves
1/2 cup - Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup - olive oil
1/3 cup - pine nuts
3 - garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor, add basil leaves and nuts. Blend 2-3 times.
Add garlic and cheese. Blend a few more times.
Keep the food processor running, pour olive oil to make the mixture into a smooth paste.
Serve with pasta, baked potatoes, or pita bread.
9. Plain Mozzarella Cheese Pizza with Basil
This pizza is quick and easy to make. Takes less than 30 minutes. Plus, it’s the best comfort food for movie night.
1 (8 ounce) - pizza dough
1/2 cup - pizza sauce
4 ounces - mozzarella cheese, sliced
12 - basil leaves
Cover pizza dough with a damp towel on a sheet of parchment pepper. Let it rest for 45 minutes in a warm place.
Make the dough into a 12-inch circle. Fold the edges to form a border. Place the dough on a baking sheet. Bake at 500 degrees for 5 minutes. Preheat the oven at 500 degrees before.
Spread the sauce on top of the dough, top with cheese, and make for another 10 minutes until crisp.
Serve with fresh basil leaves.
10. Thai Basil Stir-Fry Chicken
Get your quick basil and chicken recipe fix with this healthy stir-fry dish.
2 tbsp - hoisin sauce
1 tbsp - sugar
1 tbsp - water
1 tbsp - fish sauce
1 tbsp - peanut oil
3 - minced garlic cloves
1 - sliced serrano chile
3 - skinless chicken breast halves
1 1/2 cups - red bell pepper, sliced
1 cup - onion, sliced
1/2 cup - basil leaves
1 tsp - lemon juice
Add hoisin sauce, sugar, fish sauce, and 1 tbsp water in a small bow. Stir until smooth.
Add oil, garlic, and serrano chile in a skillet. Cook on medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook for 4 minutes. Drop in the bell peppers and onion. Cook for 2-4 minutes.
Combine hoisin mixture and bring mixture to a steam. Cook until the curry’s thickened.
Serve with fresh basil leaves.
That’s A Wrap
Because basil offers so many healthy benefits, you need to make more time to try creative ways to include a basil-rich diet for a healthy lifestyle. Basil has been used for Ayurvedic medicine for more than 3,000 years. And because of its immune-enhancing and therapeutic benefits for health, more and more people are adapting to this herb-laden lifestyle.
Rich with vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, antioxidants, and other antimicrobial and anti-ageing compounds, basil is rightfully called the “Queen of Herbs”. With stress-reducing and pain-dulling properties, it promotes physical and mental balance. If you want more health advice on why basil is important for you, there’s plenty of information out there. I’ve covered what you need to know for a healthy brain and heart. So it’s time to begin feeding your brain this healthy herb and see for yourself the substantial revitalization of your well-being. (20)
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.