I love it when we visit my grandmother and I just rest from the pressure and rush in the big city. We all started living a mechanical and meaningless life and we forgot that nature can be our rescuer. You won`t believe how peaceful and calming a weekend away can be. In the secluded village, where my grandmother decided to spend her retirement, is actually the place where I have a real touch with nature.
My grandmother`s garden is a real treasure and I started to realize why she has never thought of using medicines or pills. Lately I got interested in a herb, which not only attracted my senses, but it also had a beneficial impact on my body. I`m talking about basil, some of you already use it as a culinary herb, some of you as a seasoning, but little do we know of its tremendous impact on our body and well-being.
What do we know about basil?
Basil or ocimum basilicumis a leafy herb, whose smell and taste warms hearts. I personally am in love with herbs and plants which have strong odors and taste and this one just suits me perfectly. Basil is from the peppermint family, it has a bushy growth and pointy leaves.
I started to pay attention to this marvelous herb ever since I was in Italy. I liked the taste, but I didn`t know that basil has a lot to do with it. If you are a huge pasta lover, I assure you basil is the right herb for you. Basil is usually green, but there are about 60 types of basil and you can also find it with different taste and appearance, such as lemon basil, cinnamon basil or some of these varieties may have purple or red on the leaves.
Where is the origin of basil?
It was originally spotted in Iran, the tropical parts of Asia and India. Some countries use basil seeds and basil leaf for medical purposes, but for India, basil plant was a sacred plant as cows were to the Gods. In some countries, there was a belief that basil leaves cause madness. Nowadays, all of those superstitions are thrown away and people have taken basil into a serious consideration. Basil seeds grows during warm period and it can reach up to 100cm in height.
Which are the health benefits of basil?
- Anti-inflammatory property: the oils contained in basil leaves, such as linalool, terpineol, eugenol, citral and citronellol, have been proven to have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects on the human body.
- Full with important vitamins: 100g of basil plant contain 175% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin A. This vitamin is also known as the “vison vitamin”, meaning that basil can have a great impact on your sight. A mixture of basil`s compounds, beta-carotene, zea-xanthin, cryptoxanthin and luten, play a great role in preventing premature aging and they act protectively against derived free radicals. Basil plant is also known for vitamin K, which helps in the bone strengthening process and mineralization.
- Cleans the body from toxins: because of its antibacterial properties, basil can play an enormous role in cleaning your body from toxins. Basil is low in calories and with all the beneficial components in basil leaves, you can easily consume it on a daily base.
- Loaded with minerals: basil plant is full with copper, magnesium, potassium and manganese. These minerals can help control blood pressure and heart rate.
- Increases the quality of the blood: because of the enormous presence of iron in basil leaves, iron is the prominent factor in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
- The last benefit is from my personal experience: my favorite end of the day is basil tea. We always have fresh basil leaves in a jar and I love to put them in my mug and pour some hot water on it. It smells delicious, it tastes divine and most of all I have noticed that it calms my whole body and reduces the cramps in my stomach.
How to grow basil?
My grandmother`s garden is full with basil, she also mentioned an interesting fact about basil- she plants it around the whole garden in order to prevent mosquitoes from flying near her house. The strong odor of basil leaves rejects them and prevents its presence, an extremely useful tip for those of you who live in houses near forests. The best way to plan your planting is four weeks after the last spring frost, remember that basil plants require a warm environment.
The soil should be exposed on at least 6 hours of sun because you need it to be well-drained and moist. During hot and sunny days, feel free to water the plant properly and pick out flowers when they grow up, in order to ensure basil leaves` growth. I never throw away the picked flowers, I use them as tea and they are perfect for that purpose.
I never add any chemical toxins to the soil or spray the plant, that will only cause damage to its leaves and it will lose its quality. You can also make drained basil or use fresh basil. This process is extremely easy and simple, anyone can grow it, you just need to pay attention to the above mentioned details and you are good to go.
Tips for cooking and preparing basil
I simply love using basil leaves in my cooking. I am a huge fan of Italian kitchen and basil is Italians` number one choice. I add basil, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella during the end of the cooking of the pasta and mix it for a few minutes.
I don`t want to overcook it because basil will lose it original taste, tomatoes will lose themselves into the pasta and it may turn out to be a mess. Whenever you are cooking some pasta for your friends, remember to add basil leaves, you will look like a pro of Italian kitchen in front of your friends. Feel free to try your own basil recipes!
Here are some simple tips and ways of preparing basil:
1. Do not overdo it with basil, it has a strong flavor and it may ruin your dish
2. The healthiest way to cook it is to add it towards the end of the cooking process, in order to keep the maximum of its compounds
3. Always have basil in the kitchen, I recently started adding basil while I was cooking beans. It was an experiment, but it was worth it, it was delicious and fresh.
4. Do not forget to try basil tea at the end of a tiring day, if you have the same effect as mine, calming and relieving, please share it with us!
I hope that you will fall with love in this plant as I did, it doesn`t require a lot of your time and the benefits to your health and overall well-being are enormous.
Nutritional value of basil:
Basil herb, Fresh leaves
Nutritive value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.64 g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber||1.60 g||4%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.209 mg||4%|
|Vitamin A||5275 IU||175%|
|Vitamin C||18 mg||30%|
|Vitamin E||0.80 mg||5%|
|Vitamin K||414.8 µg||345%|