We love using a lot of herbs and spices in our cooking. The more flavors you add, the more attention you pay to your food, the less likely you are to snack later. Moreover, using a great mix of herbs and spices allows you to cut down on less healthy ingredients as well as salt.
Some herbs and spices also carry health benefits. While we shy away from calling anything superfood, we love enhancing our diet with foods rich in nutrients. Basil is a herb many of us have in our spice rack. But you may want to switch to using fresh rather than dried for its many perks.
Basil contains calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc. It also has vitamins A and K and is rich in antioxidants and essential oils. Some of the essential oils and antioxidants dissipate from the herb when it dries. That’s why you may want to consider switching. If you don’t want to grow your own or buy fresh every time you want to cook with basil, you can buy it in a tube. The basil in a tube does have additives, so you should read the label and decide if it’s right for you.
The antioxidants in basil can help prevent diseases, including cancer. The oils can help lower cholesterol, triglycerides and inflammation. The oils also have antibacterial properties and may help prevent infections. Some research has shown that basil can reduce anxiety and depression and improve cognition. In an animal study, basil extract has helped blood sugar regulation, led to long-term lower blood sugar and helped ease the harm caused by high blood sugar.
For best results, you want to eat holy basil, which is slightly different from sweet basil — the type most of us usually eat. It’s spicier and more bitter than the basil most of us are used to. It’s used in Indian medicine and food rather than Italian cooking. You can get it as dried leaves or as a supplement from health food stores. When adding any supplement to your healthy routine, we recommend speaking to your doctor. While no adverse side effects are known from basil, it’s still best to talk to your doctor. And, of course, you should only buy from a reputable brand so that you know your basil was grown in unpolluted soil — basil can gather toxins.
While holy basil may be better in some respects, normal sweet basil is filled with excellent essential oils and carries health benefits. And, it should be noted that the study on blood sugar was performed with sweet basil. Cooking with any type of basil more adds extra nutrients and vitamins to your day. As we are always recommending expanding your cooking style and trying new things, start throwing basil into more of your savory recipes. You’ll add more flavor to your meals and boost the nutrition!