B is for Basil! This is one of my favorite herbs, so rich, flavorful and versatile. Basil is part of the mint family and there are over 60 varieties that fall into three categories: sweet, purple and bush. It is packed with nutrients being rich in Vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting. Manganese, which supports healthy bone structure, bone metabolism, and helping to create essential enzymes for building bones. It is also a good source of copper and VitaminA.
Health Benefits of Basil:
Considered one of the healthiest herbs, basil has unique health protecting benefits. The unique array of active constituents called flavonoids found in basil provide protection at the cellular level. Since basil is a great source of Vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), it not only protects epithelial cells (the cells that form the lining of numerous body structures including the blood vessels) from free radical damage, but also helps prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream.
A study done at Purdue University found that basil “contains a wide range of essential oils rich in phenolic compounds and a wide array of other natural products including polyphenols such as flavonoids and anthocyanins.” Our body craves foods and herbs that are rich in these compounds to help keep the body at its optimal health.
One of my favorite ways to use fresh basil is to make my Pumpkin Seed Pesto. It is allergy friendly and is a crowd pleaser each time I make it. I have made it in my gluten free pasta salads and my Gluten Free Spinach Pesto Pizza topped with Goat Cheese
What is your favorite way to use basil?