The use of exotic herbs in everyday cooking has become the norm rather than the exception. One reason for this is the discovery of the therapeutic value of herbs. Basil is one such herb and is characterized by its minty flavor. This aromatic herb is especially popular with chefs. So easy is it to grow that cooks would rather have fresh basil and grow it in their herb garden. The added fact that it doesn’t cost a great deal has ensured its popularity.
If fresh basil is not available, all you have to do is make a trip to your local supermarket, food centre or a store that sells health food where dried basil is sold. It goes without saying that you need to seek out top quality basil. Once the basil is harvested, the handling is very important. Do your homework and pick out the best brand. Find the most experienced manufacturers with superior equipment and excellent manufacturing methods. Like peppermint, over processing at the manufacturing stage could ruin the health benefits for which basil is famous.
The nutritional value of basil cannot be underestimated. It is rich in vitamins A and C and contains elements like potassium, magnesium and iron, as also substances like phosphorous and calcium.
The word basil comes from the Greek basilikon meaning ‘royal’. Basilikon has its root in basileus, the Greek equivalent for king. That speaks volumes for the importance given to this herb in the culinary world from ancient times and in varied cultures. Basil is given pride of place in culinary circles not for its exquisite flavor alone, but also for its value as an herbal remedy for many ills. The Italians embrace it as a symbol of love, while in India it is a sign of hospitality.
Basil is responsible for improving the health of an individual. When basil is included in one’s diet, the circulatory system is said to function better. The vitamin A that is present in basil makes for a glowing complexion, glossy hair and keen eyesight. The beta-carotene that exists in basil is an antioxidant known for its strength. This and other similar carotenoids that occur in basil are transformed into Vitamin A in the human body, enhancing the advantages of the latter.
The value of antioxidants cannot be underrated as they diminish the impairment caused to the cells in the human body by free radicals. By consuming foods that abound in antioxidants, the free radicals are kept in check, so to speak. Basil is an herb for all seasons.