Basil is an annual plant used in cooking as a spice. But in addition to its excellent culinary qualities, it has the ability to actively influence the human body. The beneficial properties and contraindications of basil are related to its chemical composition and allow it to be used for medicinal purposes.
The benefits of basil for the human body
Consider the chemical composition of basil – it contains essential oil (up to 1.5%), rutin, phytoncides, vitamins C, PP, B2, and A, tannins, glycosides, and other bioactive components. Basil essential oil is found in all parts of the plant, causing its distinctive aroma.
Caloric content of basil: in raw form – 27 kcal/100 g, in dried form – 251 kcal/100 g.
The medicinal properties of basil
- strengthen the immune system and are active in oncology and even HIV infection.
- has bactericidal, antiviral, and antifungal properties and is effective in inflammation of the respiratory tract, reduces inflammation, and improves asthma.
- a decoction of the plant eliminates bad breath, prevents the development of caries, and strengthens gum tissue.
- antipyretic and antiseptic properties of the decoction alleviate a sore throat.
effective in case of flatulence.
- calms improves sleep.
- acts as a diuretic prevents the formation of kidney stones
- and lowers cholesterol.
- is active in the treatment of eye diseases (conjunctivitis, cataracts, glaucoma).
- reduces toothache and menstrual pain.
- dishes with basil, especially meat, are better digested because this spice improves digestion and absorption of nutrients.
- a paste made from the leaves of the plant reduces the increased fat content of the skin.
- Inhaling the aroma of this spice helps with a runny nose.
- foot baths made from cold infusions eliminate excessive sweating of the feet and unpleasant odor.
- tea made from dried basil flowers gives vigor and reduces high blood pressure.
A gruel made from crushed fresh leaves of the plant, if applied to the temples, will help relieve headaches.
Contraindications to the use of basil
- blood clotting disorders.
- heart attack, coronary heart disease.
- thrombophlebitis and thrombosis.
Basil is known to contain mercury compounds, so the plant can be dangerous in large quantities. Basil essential oil should be dosed especially carefully. It is not recommended to chew fresh leaves for medicinal purposes: prolonged contact with the plant is harmful to tooth enamel.
The use of basil in cooking
There are various uses of basil in cooking and canning.
It is used to flavor fish, cheese, meat dishes, salads, cottage cheese, sauces, and pasta. The French add the green variety of this spice to desserts, and the Italians make jam from it. When used in dried and fresh form, the beneficial properties of basil are preserved.
How to prepare basil for the winter
There are several ways to prepare basil for the winter:
- freeze it.
- pour over with oil.
How to dry basil for the winter
Dried basil has a richer flavor. In order for the plant to retain its beneficial properties in dried form, it must be properly harvested and dried.
When to harvest basil?
Harvesting is carried out before flowering: during flowering, the leaves of the plant become tough and unsuitable for food.
But dried basil flowers are also used as a seasoning.
How to dry basil?
Dry it in the shade in a well-ventilated room or in the oven (t 40°C for an hour with the door ajar). You can dry only cut leaves or whole branches, gathering them in bunches and hanging them for a couple of weeks. Then they are crushed and hermetically packed.
Store the dried spice in glass containers or linen bags without access to moisture and away from sunlight.
How to freeze basil for the winter
Cut the leaves from the basil stems. Rinse the leaves thoroughly in cold water. Spread them out and let them dry for at least 30 minutes. To speed up the process, you can pat them dry with a paper towel.
Layer the leaves in a bag, making sure they are completely dry and do not stick together.
Storing basil in oil
Rinse and dry fresh basil leaves well and chop them. Put the leaves in a deep bowl, add salt to taste, and mix gently. Put the salted leaves in a clean, dry jar, and pour olive or sunflower oil into the top of the jar. Close the jar well. Store in the refrigerator. Basil-flavored oil is great for salad dressings.