Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a classic mediterranean spice, one of the most favored, most used and most common in mediterranean places. We can for sure say that italian cuisine would not be what it is now without this small bushy plant with its aromatic and sweet leaves. This plant is a cousin to the mint plant, so they share the same look. There are more than 60 different varieties of basil with different looks, smell and taste. Most common is the sweet basil, with its dark green leaves and little pungent taste. There are varieties with purple or red leaves, as some with specific tastes like lemon basil, cinnamon basil or anise basil.
While many know why basil is one of the most favored spices in the kitchen, many don’t know that by using this spice they are also doing good to their body and health. It is widely used in traditional medicine as a whole plant and basil oil. Basil is a great source of vitamin K and manganese, a very good source of copper, vitamin A and vitamin C and also a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids.
Against inflammation and oxidative stress
When there is a mention about antioxidants everyone thinks about the berry fruits, but basil with its properties is on the same level as all sorts of berries. Basil has plant flavonoids that can help to protect white blood cells and protect the body against free radicals, and also has anti-inflammatory properties. For that purpose essential basil oil is used. Study which results were published in the publication Nutrition and Cancer found that phytochemicals in basil can in a natural way stop cancerous behaviour in cells. Unique types of flavonoids in basil can help in protecting organisms on a cellular level. The water soluble flavonoids from basil called orientin and vicenin gained most attention from scientists because it showed that they can protect cell structure and also chromosomes from danger that can cause radiation and oxidative stress.
Compounds in basil showed their strength in boosting the immune system and fighting against infections. Basil extract, researches showed, to help in fighting against resistant bacteria that were not responding to antibiotic therapy. With all that, this spice has adaptogenic properties and what does that mean. Adaptogenic plants increase the resistance of the organism to a wide spectrum of bad conditions from biological, chemical and physical sources, and these plants help to make things in organism go back to normal.
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