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Basil

Ocimum basilicum L

Basil, also called great basil, is a culinary herb of the family Lamiaceae. It is a tender plant, and is used in cuisines worldwide.

Nutritional Value

As recipes demand relatively small amounts of basil, this herb contributes few vitamins and minerals in typical diets.


Here is the most notable nutrient content of 1 tablespoon (around 2 grams) of sweet basil (2, 3):

  • Calories0.65

  • Vitamin A3% of the RDI4% of the RDI

  • Vitamin K13% of the RDI43% of the RDI

  • Calcium0.5% of the RDI4% of the RDI

  • Iron0.5% of the RDI5% of the RDI

  • Manganese1.5% of the RDI3% of the RDI


Though dried basil is more concentrated in nutrients, you use less in recipes compared to fresh. Therefore, neither is a significant source of most nutrients — except vitamin K.


Basil also supplies beneficial plant compounds that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other health properties (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).


In addition, these compounds give basil its “essence” — or distinct aroma and flavor. That’s why oils derived from basil and other plants are called essential oils (4Trusted Source).


SUMMARY

Because basil is generally used in small quantities, the only substantial nutrient it provides is vitamin K. Basil also supplies plant compounds, which contribute aroma, flavor and health benefits.



Health Benefits

Basil is not only a popular folk remedy for ailments like nausea and bug bites but also widely utilized in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine and other holistic medicine systems (4Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).


Today, scientists study potential medicinal benefits of basil. Extracts or essential oils of basil, which provide concentrated amounts of plant compounds, are typically tested instead of whole leaves (8Trusted Source).


Test-tube or animal studies are usually done to determine whether substances may be worth developing into medications and testing in people.


Potential Benefits of Sweet Basil

Below is a summary of potential benefits of extracts of sweet basil, primarily based on mouse and test-tube studies. Whether the same results would occur in people is uncertain.


Preliminary studies suggest sweet basil may:

  • Reduce memory loss associated with stress and aging. 

  • Reduce depression related to chronic stress. 

  • Reduce stroke damage and support recovery, whether given before or right after a stroke. 

  • Improve fasting blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides.

  • Reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension.

  • Relax blood vessels and thin your blood, similar to aspirin.

  • Protect against aspirin’s damage to your gut, particularly preventing ulcers.

  • Prevent certain cancers, including of the breast, colon and pancreas.

  • Increase mental alertness when inhaled as aromatherapy.

  • Inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause dental decay.

  • Improve food safety, such as if integrated into food packaging by manufacturers.

  • Provide an alternative to antibiotics for infectious diseases, including combating antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

  • Repel insects, such as mosquitos and ticks.

  • Mouse studies typically give 100–400 mg of basil extract per kg (220–880 mg per pound) of body weight. Appropriate human doses are unknown

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