Basil is one of my all time favorite herbs. It’s commonly used in Italian and Asian cooking; and very recently it’s been making an appearance in my smoothies. Strawberry + Basil is such a refreshing combination!
I love cooking with fresh and dried herbs. They add lots of delicious flavor to food, eliminating the need for condiments (sugar) and additional salt. Condiments, while tasty, often contain a lot of extra sugar. They serve to improve the taste of a dish but I would say a well seasoned dish doesn’t require condiments. Experiment with spices and herbs you’ve never used before. You’ll be surprised by how much flavor you can add while cooking.
Health Benefits of Basil:
- it acts as an antioxidant, with purple basil varieties having the highest antioxidant activity.
- it has antimutagenic abilities, comparable to Vitamin E.
- one variety of basil (tulsi or holy basil) has shown antiturmorigenic properties in lab studies with pancreatic cancer cells.
- extracts of sweet basil have shown antiviral properties against HSV, ADV and Hep B.
- the essential oil of sweet basil has been looked at as a possible food additive because of its antibacterial properties which prevents the growth of food borne pathogenic bacteria.
These benefits are linked to the constituents found in basil, including linalool, 1,8-cineole, estragole and eugenol. It’s hard to know for sure how much of these properties are in the basil you’re eating because it’s dependent upon a lot of factors: species, growing conditions, and processing (if you’re using dried basil). Regardless, research suggests that there are benefits to eating basil and adding to your cooking.
Your turn: what is your favorite fresh herb to cook with? Are you growing anything good in your garden?