This herb has major mind-body benefits
In addition to its delicious flavor, basil offers many mind-body benefits—from anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties to stress-busting abilities and easing PMS. Here are five healthy things basil can do for you:
- Stop stress. Feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Basil has anti-anxiety effects and can mellow you out. It contains phytochemicals, which studies suggest may reduce your levels of cortisol, a hormone you secrete when you’re tense.
- Put the brakes on PMS. You may want to add more basil to your diet during that time of the month; it’s a great source of iron (a little more than 2 cups of chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon of the dried herb provides 10 percent of your daily value, putting it on par with spinach), which you lose when you menstruate.
- Detox the liver. Had a few too many at last night’s happy hour? Basil has been found to help detoxify the liver. So crawl through your morning-after hangover and whip up a batch of pesto to spread on top of your baked chicken.
- Banish blemishes. If you’re in breakout hell, clear it up with basil. The herb’s oil combats the bacteria that causes pimples, according to a study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Boil a handful of fresh basil leaves in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes; let the liquid cool. Dip a cotton ball into the liquid, pat it on your breakout zones, wait 10 minutes and then splash your face with water. Repeat once or twice a day.
- Promote heart health. Basil is rich in vitamin A (through beta-carotene), magnesium and other nutrients that help protect cell walls from free radical damage, improve blood flow and stop cholesterol from oxidizing in the blood stream.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your physician before using basil.