Benefits of Basil
Adding herbs and spices to your dishes is not just about flavour. There are a host of nutritional benefits and it’s a good idea to include them in your diet each day. Basil is one such example. It evokes the aroma’s of Italian sauces and adds a perfect pop to a pizza. It’s also really good for you.
One benefit is its anti-bacterial qualities, so much so that food scientists are currently looking at using basil oil in food packaging that will act as an antimicrobial agent, inhibiting the growth of food-borne bacteria. Another benefit is its anti-inflammatory properties, but what does this mean? In general, eating food that inhibits inflammation is about reducing your risk of many preventable diseases in later life and improving your overall health. It’s about using food as part of a disease prevention plan. Basil has an active ingredient called Eugenol which has anti-inflammatory properties, so it can help reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes.
It also is a great source of vitamin K (a nutrient important for bone health) and a ¼ cup delivers nearly a 3rd of your daily intake.
A great way to get plenty of basil into your diet is by adding pesto to your meals. Add it to fish or chicken, stir in pasta, add to tomato and serve on toast or add it your pizza. Yum!
Don’t refrigerate your basil. Store at room temperature in a glass of water. It’s best used on the day of purchase, as it wilts very quickly and gets depleted of nutrients. If you have any left over, simply process with a bit of olive oil and freeze it in an ice-cube tray. Better still, grow your own so you only pick what you need.
BASIL PESTO RECIPE
Basil evokes aroma’s of fresh Italian dishes and can be eaten cooked or raw. Not only is it delicious, it’s also incredibly healthy. Read about the health benefits of basil here and enjoy this simple pesto recipe.
3 cups well-packed basil leaves
1 cup well packed fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to cover when storing
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (leave out if you’re dairy free)
Fresh ground pepper
- Combine all ingredients (except the cheese, salt and pepper) in a food processor or blender and whizz to a smooth paste.
- Stir in the cheese and add salt and pepper to taste
- Pour into an airtight container and add the extra olive oil to cover the surface (this prevents discolouration)
- Store in the fridge for up to 7 days or freeze for 3 months
Tip: Great with grilled fish, chicken or lamb or stirred through vegetables