(Natural News) Chia seeds are popular superfoods because they can improve your digestive health. But if you want to try something new, consider something that also offers many health benefits: basil seeds.
What are basil seeds?
Basil seeds are the small black seeds of the sweet basil plant (Ocimum basilicum). They may be newer to the health food scene than chia seeds, but basil seeds are traditionally used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to address digestive problems.
Basil seeds are often used to make sharbat, a popular West and South Asian drink, and falooda, a cold dessert from India. Like chia seeds, basil seeds swell into gelatinous pearls when soaked in liquid. However, the latter has a more tapioca-like texture. (Related: Basil is a healthy, minty treat – especially for those looking to cut back on their cholesterol levels.)
Basil seeds are also called sweet basil seeds, Sabja seeds, or tukmaria seeds. A tablespoon of basil seeds (13 grams or 0.5 ounce) contains 15 percent of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for calcium and 10 percent of the RDI for iron and magnesium.
Calcium and magnesium are essential for your bone health and muscle function while iron is essential for red blood cell production. If you are deficient in calcium and magnesium, eat basil seeds to boost your intake of these nutrients.
Basil seeds are also a great source of iron and calcium for vegans or those who can’t eat dairy products. Mucilage, the slippery, jelly-like substance surrounding the seeds, forms when basil seeds are exposed to water. Other plants like aloe vera and okra also contain mucilage.
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In traditional medicine, basil seeds are used to treat diarrhea, indigestion, and ulcers. It is believed that mucilage coats the digestive tract and improves digestion. Anecdotal claims suggest that basil seeds relieve gas and constipation.
A 2016 study published in the journal Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy reported that basil seeds have blood sugar-regulating properties. An aqueous extract from basil seeds helped lower blood glucose levels and improved the body weight of rats with diabetes. While further studies are required to determine the other health benefits of basil seeds, the findings of this study are promising.
How can you add basil seeds to your diet?
They’re not as common as chia seeds, but you can purchase basil seeds from online stores; at Indian, Middle Eastern, or Thai grocery stores; or at specialty markets.
Use them as a digestive aid.
Add fiber to your diet and boost your digestion by adding a teaspoon of basil seeds to a cup of water. Let the seeds soak in the liquid for at least 10 minutes.
Once the seeds bulk up and form a gel, drink the mixture.
Make overnight basil seed pudding.
Basil seed pudding has a unique and subtle herbal-floral flavor. The basic recipe includes a cup of coconut milk and two tablespoons of basil seeds.
Mix well, cover the container, and refrigerate overnight. This recipe makes two servings.
When the pudding is ready, top it with fresh fruit and some honey or maple syrup.
Make a seed smoothie.
Add basil seeds to any drink or smoothie to give your beverage an interesting texture.
To make a refreshing summer beverage, add one tablespoon of basil seeds, some honey (or a natural sweetener of your choice), the juice of half a lemon, and some fresh basil leaves to one cup of cold water.
Use them in a yogurt dip.
Using basil seeds produces healthy yogurt-based dips with a thick, creamy texture and a bit of crunchiness.
For example, you can make an apricot basil seed yogurt dip recipe by combining apricot, ginger, Greek yogurt, a dash of sea salt, and some turmeric. This yummy dip goes well with fruits or vegetables.
Make basil seed salad dressing.
Basil seeds are also a good addition to salad dressings. The seeds will keep things naturally emulsified so you don’t need to add oil.
To make a tangy mango basil seed dressing, combine basil seeds, black pepper, ginger, mango nectar, turmeric, and white balsamic vinegar.
Add basil seeds to dips, salad dressing, or smoothies to naturally boost your digestive health.