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Fall for New Flavors: Basil

Many people love basil simply because it adds a fresh aroma and mild-to-spicy flavor to meals and drinks. But, did you know basil also contains a range of vitamins and minerals, and provides substantial health benefits? Here is our herb of the month: Basil!

Basil is a leafy-green herb in the mint family. Of the many different varieties, sweet basil is the most common in grocery stores [i]. Also, it’s most frequently used for cooking. In some Asian countries, holy basil, or tulsi, is widely used in medicines to treat diseases [i].

Nutritional Content and Health Benefits

One cup (24 grams) of fresh basil leaves contains 4 calories, 0.8 grams of carbohydrates, 0.8 grams of protein, and 0 grams of fat [ii]. Basil is a good source of Vitamin K and contains calcium, iron, and manganese [iii]. It also provides antioxidants to help boost the immune system to fight cancer [iii]. Studies suggest that basil may reduce stress and anxiety, improve liver health, and reduce high blood sugar [i, iii].

How to Use

Basil is a flavorful herb often used in Italian and Southeast Asian cuisines [i]. It forms the base of the delicious pesto sauce, and many meat and poultry dishes feature this herb. Basil also pairs well with fruits and vegetables in drinks and salads.

Basil and Berry Iced Tea
  1. 5 cups of water
  2. ½ cup of fresh blueberries
  3. 1 cup of sliced fresh strawberries
  4. 15 fresh basil leaves
  5. 2 green tea bags
  6. Honey to sweeten if desired
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  1. Slice strawberries
  2. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil with strawberries and blueberries in a medium saucepan
  3. Remove from heat, add tea bags and basil leaves, let steep for 3 minutes
  4. Add 2 cups of cold water, refrigerate for a least 1 hour
  5. Serve over ice
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[i] Olsen, N. (2019). Basil: Uses, benefits and nutrition. Medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved 15 September 2020, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266425#benefits.

[ii] Basil, fresh Nutrition Facts & Calories. Nutritiondata.self.com. (2020). Retrieved 15 September 2020, from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/213/2.

[iii] McCulloch, M. (2018). Basil: Nutrition, Health Benefits, Uses and More. Healthline. Retrieved 15 September 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/basil#nutrition.

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