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Summer Basil Adds a Lot More Than Just Taste

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Herbs — fresh, dried and in extract or essential oil form — have been used for hundreds of years as preservatives and medicines, so they’ve always been considered valuable and beneficial. Today, scientists are isolating herbs’ active ingredients and studying their properties. Their findings provide more reasons than ever to include herbs in our diet, not just as a healthier replacement for salt, but for their varied and unique health benefits.

Sweet basil, for instance, has a long history of use for indigestion and gas, headaches and anxiety. Research shows that it has significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, and that it helps to prevent radiation and oxygen-induced DNA and cell damage. It even has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that kill some of the bugs, such as Shigella, Listeria, and E. coli, that can be found in unwashed salad greens. Plus, it’s a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, potassium and iron.

Also read: 8 Aromatherapy Scents and What They Can Do for You

Basil’s Aromatic Benefits and Culinary Flair

In aromatherapy, basil oil is used to “uplift and harmonize.” Traditionally, basil was used as an herb that could nourish a person’s growth to perfect health and enlightenment.

Basil has a rich flavor all its own, with a hint of pepper and mint. It comes in dozens of varieties, such as lemon, lime, anise and cinnamon, all with flavors that that subtly reflect their name.

Enjoy a taste of Italy by layering fresh basil leaves over tomato slices and fresh mozzarella cheese. Or add basil to a stir-fry to add a Thai flair.

And for the headiest basil dish ever, enjoy the classic, pesto. During the summer, when basil is available in abundance, is a great time to whip up some fresh batches. Freeze some and dig it out of the freezer in January to recreate a sense of fragrant Mediterranean nights.

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2 responses to “Summer Basil Adds a Lot More Than Just Taste”

  1. Elyssa says:

    I had no idea that basil had some many positive health properties. We eat a ton of basil in the summer fresh from our garden. One of my favorite ways to use it is to layer it in a sandwich in place of lettuce. Yum!

  2. Sue says:

    I love fresh basil in the summer time. Here's a GREAT twist on traditional pesto. It includes orange and lemon and is FABULOUS! Enjoy!

    Citrus Pesto

    1 bunch fresh basil, stemmed (about 3 cups)
    1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
    1 clove garlic
    1 lemon, zested and juiced
    1 orange, zested and juiced
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1 cup grated Parmesan

    Blend the basil, pine nuts, garlic, zests, juices, salt, and
    pepper in a food processor until the mixture is finely chopped.
    With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil
    until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Transfer to a
    bowl and stir in the Parmesan.