Cooking with basil offers a number of health benefits, from its cancer fighting antioxidants to its anti-inflammatory effects to its cardiovascular benefits, research shows that using basil in cooking daily can help improve the body’s overall health.
Cancer fighting antioxidants
Using basil in tomato sauce is a wonderful way to allow its antioxidant properties and flavonoids to protect the body’s cell structures from damage inflicted by free radicals. In fact, these antioxidants have been shown to actually assist in cancer prevention.
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food showed that when there were cancer symptoms in mice, holy basil leaf actually reduced the formation of the cancerous cells. Studies show that a component of basil, carnosol, inhibits the carcinogenesis of human prostate cancer cells.
These antioxidants also protect against pathogens in the body, even ones that are resistant to antibiotics. They guard against free radical damage and they product the body’s cells against any type of radiation damage.
As for cardiovascular benefits, basil cannot be beat. Basil offers the body vitamin A, which protects the cells that line the blood vessels and it protects the body from any free radicals that might be oxidizing cholesterol into the bloodstream. It is only after oxidization that cholesterol builds up in the blood vessels, often resulting in a heart attack or a stroke. Basil can help prevent this from happening.
Basil also helps prevent other free radical damage, such as asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis because the beta-carotene in basil helps to reduce the progression of these conditions. It helps prevent further damage to the body’s cells.
Additionally, magnesium is present in basil, and magnesium actually helps keep the heart healthy. It prompts the muscles and the blood vessels to relax, which improves blood flow and reduces the risk of irregular heart rhythm.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that basil offers the body a number of health benefits, and should be an herb that is enjoyed daily. Basil can be made into a hot tea, added to tomato soup, stirred into tomato sauces, added to meat dishes like chicken or even burgers, and is a delicious addition to nearly any recipe.