You Won’t “Be Leaf” All of the Benefits Found in Basil


If you are like most people, you probably think of Italian dishes when you think of basil – Caprese salads, savory pestos and Margherita pizzas.

But did you know basil is originally native to India, Asia, and Africa? It’s true! The word “basil” comes from the ancient Greek word “basilikhon” which means “royal”.

Today, basil grows in many places around the world. It’s easy to grow your own in a small pot in your kitchen or a sunny windowsill. 

Not only does basil taste great, but this incredible herb packs some serious health benefits in every leaf.

Health Benefits of Basil

Basil contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Many of basil’s health benefits come from these antioxidants, as well as the plant’s essential oils. 

Some of these beneficial compounds disappear during the drying process, so opt for fresh basil whenever possible.

Basil can help fight free radicals.

Studies show that basil is a great source of natural antioxidants. These antioxidants help fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals can lead to cell damage, increasing the risk of various health conditions, including heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

Consider adding some basil to scrambled eggs. 

Basil may protect against different types of cancer.

Basil is full of flavonoids which may have a protective effect against cancer according to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. These properties may help fight the risk of lung cancer, liver cancer, oral cancer, and skin cancer.

Try making basil, ricotta and strawberry toast for breakfast or a snack.

Adding basil may help with blood sugar regulation.

Adding basil to your diet may help to reduce high blood sugar levels.

Basil leaves were reported to have anti-hyperglycemic and liver-protective effects. The study found that it stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas, inhibits glucose production in the liver, and also increases glycogen synthesis. 

Not only does this help manage blood sugar on a day-to-day basis, but it may also be helpful in treating the long-term effects of high blood sugar.

Consider chopping up some basil and adding it to a salad or soup.

Basil may improve heart health.

The herb’s essential oils have been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Basil also contains magnesium, which can help to improve blood flow by allowing muscles and blood vessels to relax. 

Try adding a sprig of basil to a scoop of vanilla ice cream and strawberries for a sweet treat.

Basil may improve memory retention.

A compound in basil may increase your ability to think clearly and lower the risk of age-related memory loss. Studies have demonstrated that the antioxidant activity in basil has “memory-enhancing effects.” 

Looking for an easy appetizer? Try these tomato, watermelon and basil skewers.

Basil may reduce inflammation.

Essential oils in basil can help to fight inflammation in the body. These powerful properties can help to lower the risk of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and bowel issues.  

Love to try new recipes? Check out this fresh idea: Thai-Style Basil Shrimp with Basil-Coconut Rice

Basil can help protect against infection.

Basil has antibacterial properties. The oils in the herb may help to fight bacteria in people with respiratory, urinary, abdominal, and skin infections.   

Give your sandwich a boost and tuck a few basil leaves inside alongside or in place of lettuce.

As you can see when you use basil, you aren’t just adding flavor, you are also adding a wide variety of health benefits. 

Senior Star + Superfoods

Your local Senior Star community has all kinds of creative ways to learn more about this month’s superfood. 

Perhaps you’d like to check out a Cooking Demonstration or unwind at one of our Mixology Experiences.

Contact your Senior Star location to find out what’s available in your local community and how to participate. You can also reach out to Senior Star staff for monthly recipes and other fun ideas.