Basil is a highly fragrant plant whose leaves are used to flavor a variety of foods. Basil has become one of the most recognizable herbs in the world since pesto, a mixture of basil, pine nuts, cheese, parmesan, became widely popular.
Basil has round, pointed leaves in green. There are more than 60 varieties of basil, which vary somewhat in appearance and taste. While the taste of sweet basil is fresh and pungent, other varieties also offer unique tastes: lemon, anise and cinnamon.
Basil grows in many regions around the world, but the first places it came into being are India, Asia and Africa. It is characterized by a wide variety of cuisines all over the world, including Italian, Laotian, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.
The name basil comes from the Greek word basilikohn, which means "king" and reflects the attitudes of this ancient culture towrads the herb, which they considered very noble and sacred. The tradition of reverence for basil is found in other cultures. In India, basil is kept as an icon of hospitality, while in Italy- it is a symbol of love.
Whenever possible, the selection of basil is best served by choosing fresh basil, not dried, as the fresh herb has a better taste. Fresh basil leaves should look fresh and be deep green. You should not choose a herb with dark spots on the leaves or yellow ones.
Fresh basil should be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in paper towels or a damp cloth. Basil can also be frozen and stored.
Dried basil should be stored in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark, dry place, where it can keep fresh for about six months.
Since the oils contained in basil are highly volatile, it is best to put the spice in at the end of cooking and it will keep its optimal taste.
Benefits of Basil
Basil is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of iron, calcium and vitamin A. Additionally, it is a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium. 3 g. Basil contains 7.52 calories and 0.44 g protein.
Several studies show the unique properties of basil in prevent many health problems, including:
- DNA protection and antibacterial properties. The unique range of active compounds called flavonoids contained in basil provide protection at the cellular level. Orientin and visenin are two water-soluble flavonoids that protect cell structures and chromosomes from radiation and damage caused by the action of oxygen. In addition, the intake of basil provides protection against unwanted bacterial growth.
- Anti-inflammatory effects. Eugenol, a component of the volatile oils of basil, is the subject of extensive study, since this substance can block the activity of an enzyme in the body called cyclo-oxygenase (COX), which has an inflammatory effect.
- The nutrients contained in basil are essential for cardiovascular disease
Basil is a good source of vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoids, such as beta carotene). It is called provitamin A, because it can be converted into vitamin A, beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant and protects not only the epithelial cells (the cells that form the lining of many structures in the body, including blood vessels) from damage of free radicals, but also helps prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the blood by free radicals.