Basil was originally a native plant to India, Iran and various other tropical regions in Asia. It was grown and used for its leaves and seeds because of medical health benefits. Basil is also a great flavor enhancer.
Basil is high in vitamin A which helps to act as a scavenger against oxygen derived free radicals that are involved in aging. 1 cup of fresh basil leaves has 175% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A. Researchers have found that Vitamin A is a strong antioxidant and is incredibly important for vision. Vitamin A also helps to maintain the health of skin and can protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancer.
Basil contain many nutrients necessary for a healthy body. Researcher have found that basil leaves contain Vitamin K which aids in the production of clotting factors in the blood and helps with bone strengthening. Basil has potassium, manganese, copper and magnesium. Potassium is known to be beneficial in the controlling of heart rate and blood pressure. Fresh basil leaves have been found to contain a lot of iron which is a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells. Of course, the hemoglobin is of high importance for the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.
Studies have found that the volatile oils in basil especially eugenol can help to block the ezyme cyclooxygenase in the body. Cyclooxygenase is the exact same enzyme that medicines which are anti-inflammatory in nature like aspirin and ibuprofen are created to help block. Basil has been found to be a natural anti-inflammatory. Not only is it an anti-inflammatory, but basil has been found to be a strong natural antibacterial agent because of its volatile oils. Studies have been done that have shown promise in its ability to inhibit some pathogenic bacteria that have become resistant to some antibiotic drugs
Research has shown that the leaves of a basil plant contains phytonutrients such as orientin and vicenin. These are in the flavonoid family. Studies and research has found that flavonoids have the ability to protect cell structures and well as chromosomes from the damage caused radiation.
Researchers are studying the link between basil and how it can help the body adapt to stress and normalize the harmful effects of stressors on various processes of the body. Early studies have seen improvements in oxidative stress levels after basil use. These studies have been done on rabbits and still need to be done on humans. What researchers found was that the rabbits had cardiovascular and respiratory protection in response to the stress. As an added benefit, a large decrease in blood sugar levels was observed.
Health Benefits of Basil
Basil is high in Vitamin A
Basil contains many nutrients necessary for the health of the body
Basil is both an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial
Basil may protect chromosomes from damage
Basil is being studied for its ability to help with stress