SUPER HERBS & SPICES - BASIL (PART 2)Continuing our Super Herbs and Spices Series, today we are looking into the health benefits of one of nature's oldest and most widely used herbs -- basil.
With origins traced back to ancient Egypt, Iran and India, and over 40 varieties to choose from - basil has been used around the world for centuries to do more than flavor food. In fact, basil has over 80 constituents that have been used in ancient and modern Ayurvedic medicinal practices ranging from treating inflammation and cardiovascular health to fighting bacteria and the effects of aging.
The Science Behind Basil
Basil is comprised of polyphenolic flavonoids that have been been studied for their anti-oxidant properties, antibacterial properties, their ability to fight free radicals that are responsible for aging, and degenerative diseases, and cardiovascular benefits.
Basil has been found to be a productive method for fighting bacterial growth. What gives basil these anti-bacterial properties are the constituents in its essential oils: estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene. These constituents have been found effective in fighting bacterial strains of Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (WhFoods).
Because of its anti-bacterial properties, consuming basil is an effective way to help with the spread of bacteria that can lead to throat-harming viruses. If you are a professional vocalist on the road, in the studio, a teacher with a busy lecture schedule, or a broadcaster or lawyer - fighting these strains of bacteria is particularly important to you. Try steeping basil in your morning tea or mixing it with your omelet to give your body a bacteria-fighting boost in the morning.
Acute inflammation is your body's natural protective response to fight muscle or tissue trauma, or infections, chronic inflammation is a much different story. Chronic inflammation is associated with deteriorating diseases like arthritis, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Studies have found that various compounds in herbs like basil have been successful in reducing inflammation by blocking the release of cytokines, a naturally produced protein responsible for initiating the inflammatory process.
Cytokines are proteins that are secreted from one cell in our bodies to another, allowing for direct cell-to-cell communication. Specific cytokines help initiate and regulate the inflammatory process. Similarly, nitric oxide, a chemical involved in various cell signalling reactions, helps orchestrate numerous steps in the inflammatory cascade. Thus, blocking the action of these two kinds of substances means blocking the communication and/or orchestration of inflammatory processes. - Spezzatino Magazine, "What's So Healthy About Basil".
Basil's Many Vitamin & Mineral Benefits - Anti-Aging to Cancer Fighting to Healthy Skin and Vision
Basil contains high levels of free-radical fighting agents including vitamin A, lutein, beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, and zea-xanthin as well as heart-healthy iron vitamin K, and minerals manganese, potassium, copper, and magnesium.
The cardiovascular benefits of basil are an important part of this super herb. Basil's abundance of potassium helps minerals and compounds like iron, potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium all play a role in helping the function of our cardiovascular system, control blood pressure, and reduce cholesterol.
Basil's free-radical fighting agents also help protect cells in the cardiovascular and fight the oxidization of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
So why would basil be a good addition to a professional vocalists diet? Let's recap.
- Anti-Inflammatory - Basil can help with a sore throat by reducing inflammation caused by overuse
- Anti-Bacterial - Basil's ability to fight bacteria that can be harmful to your throat, vocals, and overall health make it a great preventative defense against bacteria as well as a natural aid if you do find yourself getting sick *Always consult a physician or see your ENT specialist if you believe you have a bacteria or virus that is hurting your throat, and before you consume anything to treat a bacterial or viral infection.
- DNA-Protecting - Aside from the benefits of anti-aging, protecting your body against degenerative disease should be a priority for everyone. Basil's free-radical fighting agents will assist your body in the fight against aging, and disease.
- Cardiovascular Health - Maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol, a healthy blood pressure, and healthy levels of oxygen in your blood are extremely important if you are a busy professional. Not only will having a strong cardiovascular system help with your stamina throughout the day, but help keep a vital part of your body working at peak condition.
Boost you intake of basil every day by having a large batch of Basil Pesto on-hand.
1/2 cup pine nuts
8 cloves of garlic
2 TSP salt
6 cups chopped basil leaves
1.5 cups Parmesan cheese
1 TBSP black pepper
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 TBSP lemon juice
To Make the Pesto
Combine all ingredients except the olive oil into a food processor and lightly pulse until they are combined (if you have a mortar and pestle, use that to muddle the ingredients together and then use a whisk to mix in the olive oil). Add in the olive oil in a steady stream with the machine running until all the olive oil has been combined with the ingredients.
Add this pesto to pasta, scrambled eggs, chicken, or fish for a healthy boost of basil!
What's So Healthy About Basil? - Precision Nutrition http://www.precisionnutrition.com/healthy-basil
Health Benefits of Basil, Srikanth R - http://srirad0675.hubpages.com/hub/Health-benefits-of-basil
What Are the Health Benefits of Basil? - Medical News Today http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266425.php
Juliani, H.R. and J.E. Simon. 2002. Antioxidant activity of basil. p. 575–579. In: J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds.), Trends in new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.
Antimicrobial Properties of Basil and its Possible Implication in Food Packaging Suppakul P1, Miltz J, Sonneveld K, Bigger SW.
Journal of Microbiology Methods (July 2003)
Thu, Apr 2, 2015 @ 8:40 AM MDT