What’s So Great About Basil?

What’s So Great About Basil?

Did you know there are over 40 different varieties of basil? Purple, green and white shades. Cinnamon, lemon and mint aromas. Even non-edible versions that are simply for show. Mostly we’re familiar with the green, slightly anise flavoured variety readily available year round but especially fresh and locally grown right now, in the heart of the summer. And while you may think of basil as just another herb, used to add flavour and make your favourite pesto, it actually turns out to be a sneaky little health dynamo.

According to Precision Nutrition, “basil contains essential oils and phytochemicals in the leaves, stem, flowers, roots and seeds that have biological activity in the body. Basil has been used for centuries in Ayurveda, a traditional Indian system of medicine, as a treatment for gastric, hepatic, respiratory and inflammatory disorders as well as a remedy for headache, fever, anxiety, convulsions, nausea and hypertension.” And while “ancient” remedies can go out of fashion or even be disproven, they go on to site recent research showing that “basil is a known antiviral, antifungal and insecticidal agent, that it is anti-inflammatory and that basil essential oils have been shown to lower blood glucose, triglyceride and cholesterol levels.”

Oh and if that’s not enough goodness packed into one itty bitty, unassuming herb then feel free to dab a little magic, pimple erasing basil on your teenager’s next “OMG, my life is so over, I’m not even kidding right now” zit. According to the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, reported in Health Magazine, the volatile oils in basil that make it good for your insides also work on the exterior. Basil leaves boiled in water and then cooled make for an excellent blemish treatment.

Younger kids so not going to care about all that science when they see green stuff in dinner? Puree and add to soups, pasta sauces or smoothies. Otherwise, pesto for everyone!

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