(NaturalNews) Basil is an aromatic plant that has been utilized for a very long time as a culinary herb in order to add a much appreciated fragrance to a wide variety of dishes. It has earned its credentials in many cuisines from the regular use of pesto, a mixture of basil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.
Basil, scientifically called ocimum basilicim, originates from the warmer climates of Asia's tropical regions. It's an incredible source of antioxidants and filled with nutrients. Basil presents a wide array of health benefits. It is recognized for its exceptional anti-bacterial, antimicrobial and anti-aging properties, amongst many others. Basil also helps fight critical medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels, or even cancer thanks to the active phenolics present in the herb.
Phenolics are a group of organic compounds primarily found in fruits and vegetables. The main phenolics present in basil are the flavanoids, more specifically vicenin, orientin, eugenol and anthocyanins. These all play an important role because of their strong antioxidant properties. Although there is still an ongoing debate among them, most scientists do believe that antioxidants are vital in regards to an herb's outstanding ability to prevent cancer.
Can basil help you retain your youth?
Basil has been utilized in Ayurvedic medicines for hundreds of years if not more, therefore its healthy effects have also been studied a long time. It's no surprise that a more recent research conducted at the Poona College of Pharmacy in Maharashtra, India, came to the conclusion that basil does protect the body from premature aging.
Researchers discovered or rather validated that basil was effective in protecting the body against free radicals. Basil's flavanoids inhibited free radicals from causing significant damage to the body. Dr. Shinde stated the study clearly showed the herb promotes youth and it acts at a cellular level. She believes results validate its traditional use in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. She's far from the only one as many experts now also feel that basil is an anti-aging superfood.
The anti-bacterial properties of basil are also well referenced, but this time because of its volatile oils instead of its flavanoids. A study published in the July 2003 issue of the Journal of Microbiology Methods revealed that basil's essential oils were able to stop in its tracks strains of bacteria known as Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas. These pathogenic types of bacteria have not only become widespread, but also presented a health risk from being resistant to treatment with the generally used antibiotic drugs.
Last but not least, a few studies published in the February 2004 journal of Food Microbiology, presented evidence that washing food in a solution containing as low as 1 percent of basil in it, resulted in diminishing the number of Shigella cases, which is an infectious bacteria causing diarrhea with the potential to cause more serious damage in the intestinal tract.