Thursday, June 10, 2010

Basil: More than Just Pesto

The round, often pointed, leaves of the basil plant looks a lot like peppermint to which it is related. Its highly fragrant leaves are used as a seasoning herb for a variety of foods, but has become ever popular as the main ingredient in pesto, the mixture of basil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

The unique array of active constituents called flavonoids found in basil provide protection at the cellular level. Orientin and vicenin are two water-soluble flavonoids that have been of particular interest in basil, and in studies on human white blood cells; these components of basil protect cell structures as well as chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage.

Basil is a very good source of vitamin A. Called "pro-vitamin A," since it can be converted into vitamin A, beta-carotene is a more powerful anti-oxidant than vitamin A and not only protects epithelial cells from free radical damage, but also helps prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream. Only after it has been oxidized does cholesterol build up in blood vessel walls, initiating the development of atherosclerosis, whose end result can be a heart attack or stroke.

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  1. Hello! Many thanks for your comforting comment at my blog. It has been a difficult time with my father being ill. Usually I lost my appetite when worried, but oddly at the moment food & cooking are providing much solace to me & my husband. LOVE basil--one of my favorite fresh herbs to cook with. Have a big bunch on my kitchen window sill now. I like to serve fish on a bed of basil...mmm...Wonderful blog! :o)

  2. I had no idea!! I really need to incorporate it more in my cooking!


  3. I had no idea basil was related to peppermint! There's my "new thing for the day." Thanks! :)

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog Maris,this Forgiveness Project is taking up all my spare hours, Just to let you know that just 2 days ago, I wished to find a blog on Vegetables or Fruits; Well I've found the vegs. on yours. Will return to read once I've finished the articles. Just posted the preamble to Step 4.