Saturday, September 8, 2012

Basil





This item is a refresher on the positive benefits of basil and just how well it performs inside a salad.  It is thus becoming much more readily available and with the additional handy availability of good quality walnuts (Costco in particular has a large pouch I buy) and other summer produce, it is now easy to make a meal of al this.

Readers will notice that there is a continuing drive under way to determine the specific value of a wide range of herbs and fruits and ultimately to publicize that knowledge.  This is clearly a good thing although the best defense is to eat as many types as possible.  Any one in exclusion is surely deficient or excessive in one way or the other.

Recently I have seen a similar blast cheerleading an old friend, the Concord grape.  We all need to learn to love those oddballs again.

The healing benefits of basil and a nutritious salad recipe
By Julie Daniluk, RHN | Chatelaine – Mon, 27 Aug, 2012 11:00 AM EDT

Every year in August, my husband skips the flowers and brings home a bushel basket of basil from the farmers' market for only $25. I'm always able to turn that gift into a freezer full of delicious homemade pesto. You see, while basil is native to Asia and Africa, it's Italy that has instilled this herb into our hearts ever since pesto became one of the world's most loved sauces. No surprise then that in Italy (and in my home!), basil is a symbol of love.
 

But I also love basil for a few other reasons: its intense aromatic oil scares pests away and ensures a good harvest, and it also happens to be an incredible guardian of your health, too!
Have a look at these brilliant basil facts:


1. Adding basil to your diet can help to protect you from bacteria, yeast and mold. Basil has strong anti-bacterial properties. This powerful plant contains several essential oils that have been found to exhibit antimicrobial activity against a wide range of bacteria such as listeria, staphylococcus and salmonella. These strains of bacteria are not only widespread, but are becoming resistant to treatment with antibiotic drugs.


2. Basil has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
 Basil not only provides healing benefits for people with inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, but it also provides relief from the symptoms. The volatile oils in basil contain a compound called eugenol, which mimics the action of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.


3. Basil can protect your DNA from radiation and oxidative damage. Basil contains compounds called flavonoids. Two of these compounds, orientin and vicenin, have been studied extensively and results show that they protect the structure of cells as well as chromosomes from damage caused by radiation and oxidation. 


4. Basil contains volatile essential oils that can help in the fight against acne. The volatile oils in found in basil have strong antimicrobial action that can help to fight the bacteria responsible for causing acne.


5. Basil oil's eugenol also has anti-cancer properties. It is well documented that eugenol has a protective effect against melanoma, skin tumours, osteosarcoma and leukemia.

6. Basil can protect your heart and help to reduce blood pressure. The high levels of beta carotene in basil will be converted in the body to vitamin A. This vitamin provides strong antioxidant protection to the lining of the blood vessels and helps to prevent damage from free radicals. The high levels of magnesium in basil have been shown to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow.  

Basil and cherry tomato salad
This recipe highlights the best of local produce. The tomatoes have a more concentrated flavour this year due to the dry weather and pair perfectly with fresh basil. Due to the acidity of the tomatoes, there's no need for vinegar. Yellow cherry tomatoes are milder and easier on sensitive stomachs. The omega-3 fat in the walnuts and the anti-inflammatory action of the olive oil make this salad wonderfully healing. This recipe can last a few days and is a huge family hit anytime. 

Ingredients:
4 cups of cherry tomatoes 
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1 cup basil leaves, packed 
1 cup walnuts
½ cup kalamata olives

Directions:
1. Chop cherry tomatoes in half and add to a mixing bowl. 
2. Season with olive oil and salt.
3. Chop basil into thin ribbons and sprinkle over tomatoes. 
4. Add walnut pieces and chopped olives and gently toss all ingredients together in the bowl.

Makes 8 servings

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