Ocimum basilicum . This is the name of basil, also known as sweet basil, an herb commonly used as a spice, mainly associated with pasta consumption. The plant, originally from India, is considered by Indians as sacred and helps in spiritual growth promoting balance and relaxation. To the Greeks and Romans, it was seen as a plant that had reconciling powers, as well as warding off flies and symbolizing welcome when planted at the entrance to the house.
The plant has approximately 150 varieties and all of them have very similar properties. Up to 45 centimeters tall and 30 centimeters wide, the plant is easily cultivated anywhere in the world in pots or gardens.
Benefits and properties
Every 100g, it contains only 20 calories, making it a very light food. Its very characteristic aroma has a calming action thanks to the essential oils responsible for it.
A source of diabetic fiber, water and proteins, basil is also rich in vitamins A, B, C, E and K, in addition to minerals such as calcium, zinc, manganese, magnesium, iron and potassium.
It is an excellent antibacterial and also helps with heart health. Thanks to the presence of magnesium, it can be used to improve blood circulation. By acting as an antioxidant, it helps control cholesterol levels and protects against the action of free radicals, preventing premature aging. It also helps prevent the formation of plaque and fatty build-up on artery walls.
It can also be used as an immune system booster, being excellent for colds, flu, sore throats, congestion and coughs. Studies indicate that it also works by inhibiting cancer, thanks to antioxidants that restrict the growth of cancer cells.
Basil also acts to improve memory and strengthen the nervous system, in addition to relieving stress and treating insect bites, cuts and wounds – being applied directly to the skin. Its application is also beneficial in cases of dizziness, intestinal gas, liver disorders, gastric spasms, menstrual pain, insomnia and even depression.
How to prepare tea?
To prepare basil tea, you will need:
– Approximately 10 basil leaves
– 1 liter of water
In a container, bring the water to the fire. Wait until it reaches boiling point and then turn off. Add the washed and sanitized basil leaves and then cover. Let it sit for a period of approximately ten minutes – or until it becomes warm – and then strain and consume.
How to use in cooking?
Basil has the same benefits when used as a food seasoning. It can be used to prepare various dishes such as sauces, pastas, breads, salads, soups, sandwiches, cheeses, sweets, juices, among others.
It is important, however, that, in order to preserve its properties and compounds, in addition to maintaining its strong aroma and flavor, basil is added to recipes only in the last step of its preparation.
Contraindications and precautions
Basil has no contraindications or use restrictions found in the consulted literature. In case of doubt, seek medical attention.