Yes, Basil is Paleo!
It Is What Makes Up Pesto!
Basil is a culinary herb that comes from the Lamiaceae family together with rosemary and mint. It is native to India but is familiar to the Mediterranean region. Basil is prominent in Italian cooking and plays a main role in Southeast Asian cuisines. It has a sweet, strong aroma and flavor and sometimes may taste like anise. The leaves of basil are green and often rounded and pointed that it can look like peppermint.
There are over 60 varieties of basil but the three main types are sweet, green and purple basil. Sweet basil has large green leaves and bright and pungent taste. Greek ones have smaller leaves and peppery undertone. Purple basil has dark leaves and a milder flavor.
The highly fragrant leaves of basil are used as seasoning for varieties of dishes but it has become most popular as the main ingredient of pesto, a green Italian oil and herb sauce. Basil is also used to season meats, fishes, sandwiches, salads and soups.
Nutritional Profile of Basil
Basil is another nutrient-dense herb that contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K. It is also rich in calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. Basil also contains essential oils that have antioxidant, antiviral and antimicrobial properties.
Health Benefits of Basil
Considered as one of the healthiest herbs, basil has benefits that we are not even aware of. We thought of it as just a simple add on or garnish in food but it is not. Below are the reasons why you should include basil in your diet:
- Rich in antioxidants. Basil contains flavanoids and essential oils such as estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene. These have antibacterial and antioxidant properties that can protect up to cellular level. They are capable of controlling the growth of harmful bacteria, including E.coli. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant in basil that helps boost immune system and fights against diseases.
- Good for the heart. Vitamin A in the form of carotenoids is abundant in basil. It is a powerful antioxidant that protects the cell lining from free radical damage. It also helps in preventing blood cholesterol from oxidizing therefore preventing heart attack, atherosclerosis and stroke. Vitamin K is also present in basil which is important in blood clotting and blood pressure regulation.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties. Eugenol is a compound in basil that has anti-inflammatory characteristics and can relieve problems like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Natural stress reliever. Holy basil has anti-anxiety effects, thank you to phytonutrients that can lower cortisol, a hormone that is secreted by the body when it feels stress.
- Good eye health. Basil contains zeaxanthin, a carotenoid that is absorbed by the retina. It acts as antioxidant that protects the eyes from macular degeneration and promotes good vision.
What’s Not to Like About Basil?
Basil indeed is one healthy herb. Besides it being nutrient-dense, it offers protection for the body, boosting immune system, promoting heart and eye health. The antioxidants have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce risk of certain diseases. There’s no reason not like about basil. So start incorporating it in your diet and be healthy!
Saint Joseph’s wort, royal herb
What Experts Say About Basil
“And as is usual with the herbs, basil displays some protective attributes against fatty acid oxidation.” – Mark Sisson
All you ever wanted to know about Basil and Paleo
Ultimate Paleo Guide. Are Herbs Paleo?
Paleo Leap. Cooking with Fresh Herbs: The Hows and Whys
Primal Pal. 10 Awesome Herbs and Spices to Add Flavor to Your Paleo Recipes
Mark’s Daily Apple. 6 Common Herbs and Why You Should Eat Them (Hint: They Don’t Just Taste Good)
Paleo Porn. Is Basil Paleo?
The World’s Healthiest Foods. Basil
Food Facts. Mercola. What is Basil Good For?
Did we miss anything?
Comment below and let us know what you think. Do you agree with our conclusion?
photo credit: H. Sparkman 081228 mmm basil