The herb basil is rich in vitamin K, with 2 Tbsp chopped containing 21.8 mcg or 27% of the recommended daily value. Basil also contains 277 IU or 6% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A [i].
Basil may offer numerous health benefits, including decreased inflammation, reduced risk of certain cancers, and improved cardiovascular factors [ii, iii, iv]. One 2016 study evaluated anti-proliferative activity of certain plant essential oils, including sweet basil, spearmint, anise, and kumquat. The authors found all essential oils to have variable degrees of anti-proliferative activity, with sweet basil as the most potent against a human colon carcinoma in vitro model [iii]. More long-term research is warranted on the health benefits of basil.
Ways to Eat
Basil is often best known for its appearance in pesto and tomato and mozzarella caprese salads. Add basil leaves atop pizzas, use them in soups, or pair with cucumber for a refreshing iced water. Keep an eye out for our Savor Cooks article featuring basil, coming next week!
[i] Basil, fresh. Retrieved from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/213/2
[ii] Li H, Ge Y, Luo Z, Zhang X, Zhang X, Zhang J, Fu Q, 2017. Evaluation of the chemical composition, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of distillate and residue fractions of sweet basil essential oil. J Food Sci Technol, 54(7):1882-1890. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5495712/
[iii] Fitsiou E, Mitropoulou G, Spyridopoulou K, Tiptiri-Kourpeti A, Vamvakias M, Bardouki H…Pappa A, Fu Q, 2016. Phytochemical profile and evaluation of the biological activities of essential oils derived from the Greek aromatic plant species ocimum basilicum, mentha spicata, pimpinella anisum and fortunella margarita. Molecules, 21(8). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6274325/
[iv] Amrani S, Harnafi H, Bouanani NH, Aziz M, Caid HS, Manfredini S…Bravo E, 2006. Hypolipidaemic activity of aqueous Ocimum basilicum extract in acute hyperlipidaemia induced by triton WR-1339 in rats and its antioxidant property. Phytother Res, 20(12):1040-5. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.1961