The king of herbs, basil herb is one of the ancient and popular herbal plants brimming with important health-benefiting phytonutrients. This highly prized plant revered as "holy herb" in many cultures all around the world.
Basil belongs to the family of Lamiaceae, in the genus: Ocimum. Its scientific name is "Ocimum basilicum."
The Greek cultivar which typically known as "sweet basil" has light green leaves,, is mild and possesses sweet anise/clove flavor. For the same reason, it is also recognized as culinary basil since it is used extensively in the cuisine all over the world.
Health benefits of Basil herb
Basil leaves hold many important plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties.
Basil herb contains many polyphenolic flavonoids like orientin and vicenin. These compounds were tested in-vitro laboratory for their possible antioxidant protection against radiation-induced lipid peroxidation in mouse liver.
Basil leaves compose of many health benefiting essential oils such as eugenol, citronellol, linalool, citral, limonene, and terpineol. These compounds are known to have anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.
The herb is very low in calories and contains no cholesterol. Nonetheless, its is one of the finest sources of many essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins critical to optimum health.
Basil herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin-A, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
Zea-xanthin, a yellow flavonoid carotenoid compound, is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea where it found to filter harmful UV rays from reaching the retina. Studies suggest that common herbs, fruits, and vegetables that are rich in zeaxanthin antioxidant help to protect from age-related macular disease (AMRD), especially in the older adults.
100 grams of fresh herb basil leaves contain astoundingly 5275 mg or 175% of daily required doses of vitamin A. Vitamin-A is known to have antioxidant properties and is essential for vision. It also required for maintaining healthy mucosa and skin. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A has been found to help the human body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Vitamin K in basil is essential for the production of clotting factors in the blood and plays a vital role in the bone strengthening and mineralization.
Basil herb contains a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, which helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese utilized by the human body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Basil leaves are an excellent source of iron. Its fresh leaves carry 3.17 mg/100 g (about 26% of RDA) of iron. Iron, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, is one of the chief determinants of oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.