31 Basil Facts: The Plant Everyone Should Have In Their Homes | Kidadl


31 Basil Facts: The Plant Everyone Should Have In Their Homes

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Basil is not a strange herb to anyone who is passionate about cooking.

Basil is an aromatic herb that is used in many dishes. Common in the form of essential oil, a flavoring agent for tea, and as medicine, this herb is known and appreciated all over the world!

It has a strong flavor and can be used fresh or dried. Basil is a member of the mint family and is native to Southeast Asia. There are many different types of basil, each with its own unique flavor. In this article, we will discuss some interesting facts about basil!

Facts About Basil

If you have seen pots with the holy basil in them near church altars and wondered why this was common practice, you are about to have all your questions answered.

  • While sweet basil and holy basil are clearly the most famous ones, basil is such a herb that has somewhere between 50-150 species!
  • The name holy basil developed from the Greek word which means royal.
  • What is royal about basil, you ask? Well, the Ancient Greeks believed that this herb grew at the spot where the Holy Cross was discovered by Helen and St. Constantine!
  • Even in Hindu mythology, basil has been treated as a holy plant.
  • This is one of the reasons why during the British rule over India, the natives were allowed to swear honestly over the holy basil instead of the Bible!
  • In the present day, basil has many uses.
  • Basil oil is used in treating some health issues such as alleviating nasal blockages and treating common flu.
  • The anti-inflammatory properties of basil leaves are used in Ayurveda.
  • In Italian and Thai cooking, this herb is of great importance since it provides a unique flavor profile and also bountiful health benefits!

Uses Of Basil

Basil is such a herb that can be used in many ways. From making medicines to cooking, these herbs are versatile and very helpful!

  • The common basil plant is often used in the making of Ayurvedic medicine.
  • This is because the fresh leaves of the basil plant are said to have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Basil tea is not only tasty but also offers many health benefits.
  • Such tea is often offered to people who have blocked nasal passages.
  • Since sweet basil belongs to the mint family, the scent of basil tea is effective in opening nasal blockages.
  • Basil essential oil is also used in the treatment of flu and the common cold.
  • Since sweet basil has an abundance of antioxidants, the basil leaf is consumed in dishes around the world.
  • The consumption of sweet basil or holy basil helps in keeping health issues such as heart problems, and arthritis at bay.
  • In Asian cuisine, the dried leaves of sweet basil are used for developing deep flavors.
  • However, do note that dried leaves lose much of their nutritional benefits as well as their natural aroma through the process of dehydration.
  • Therefore, fresh basil pesto is bound to taste a lot different from a dish that is seasoned with dried leaves of sweet basil!
  • Basil seeds are also used in many cuisines in Asia.
  • Depending on the basil varieties, they are first soaked in water and once they take up a gelatinous consistency, they are added to drinks and sweet dishes such as falooda, which is a traditional Indian dessert!
  • There are many species of basil and each has its own specific flavor profile.
  • The lemon basil is a famous addition to some amazing-tasting salads of the world.
  • As the name suggests, this basil type has a lemony fragrance, which works wonderfully well alongside tomatoes and some cottage cheese!
  • Interestingly, there is also lime basil, which has a completely different flavor profile.
  • We can safely say that it is very difficult to explore all the flavor combinations that the different types of basil offer!
  • In India, holy basil has always been an integral part of traditional medicine.
  • This herb of the mint family is known to have been used for its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • The oils of sweet basil are also known to treat urinary and abdominal infections such as E. coli!
  • In fact, the consumption of basil tea or a concoction made with holy basil and other spices is still prevalent in Indian households in the case of colds and coughs!
  • It is also said that basil was also important for the Ancient Egyptians. Sources show that they used holy basil for embalming purposes!
  • The flowers of basil plants are of different colors, sizes, and shapes depending on the species.
  • For example, the purple basil plant has pink-colored flowers, whereas the African blue basil plant has purple-colored ones!
  • Some varieties of basil are also used for decorative purposes in parts of Asia. An example of such a variety would be the licorice basil.
  • If you are looking for a type of basil that would do wonders to your salad, Italians would approve of the lettuce basil.
  • Named after the lettuce-like curly leaves, lettuce basil is a perfect addition to a light salad!
Arguably, the best way of using basil leaves is to make pesto!

Benefits Of Basil

There are many health benefits that can be extracted from the consumption of the basil herb!

  • Basil is a good source of calcium and vitamin K.
  • Basil has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Basil is also high in antioxidants, which can help to protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
  • Free radicals are a by-product of metabolism, which can cause many health problems such as heart ailments.
  • The antioxidant properties of basil plants enable the free radicals to be removed from the body.
  • This is also beneficial in terms of maintaining healthy and smooth skin.
  • Excessive free radicals in the body can result in premature aging, which can easily be avoided through the consumption of basil!
  • The consumption of fresh basil leaves is also said to have anticarcinogenic properties.
  • However, this theory remains to be proved completely.
  • Basil plants can also be a source of fragrant oil, which would also have many health benefits!
  • Basil has been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it a great choice for treating infections.
  • Basil is a great source of flavor, and can be used to add flavor to many different dishes!
  • Basil seeds are also used in many cuisines in Asia.

How To Grow Basil

Basil is a very easy herb to grow, and can be grown both indoors and outdoors. Here are some tips on how to grow basil.

  • Basil needs plenty of sunlight, so make sure to place it in a location where it will get at least six hours of sunlight each day.
  • However, if you lack backyard space, these plants can also be known to grow indoors.
  • However, the plant is to be placed near a south-facing window in case you happen to live somewhere in the northern hemisphere.
  • Some of the famous basil cultivars include holy basil, African blue, and lemon basil.
  • Make sure to choose the variety and species which suit your taste buds as well as the climatic situation on your side of the world!
  • Basil leaves often wilt if they are underwatered. The trick here would be to ensure that the plant is watered whenever such wilting takes place.
  • In most cases, wilting can be fixed through adequate watering and placing the plant in sunlight.
  • Basil needs regular watering, so make sure to water it regularly.
  • When growing basil indoors, you can use a pot or container with drainage holes. You can also purchase soil that is specifically designed for herbs.
  • You can either harvest the leaves from the plant or allow them to flower and then harvest the seeds.
  • Basil leaves also tend to develop some issues such as fungus, which is why it is important to have some pesticides and disinfectants at hand.
  • When growing basil, it must be kept in mind that these plants originate from the tropical to subtropical areas of Southeast Asia, where there is no frost. Hence, in places where there is a definite frost problem, basil plants will not do well!
  • Growing such herbs is usually hassle-free and provides an ample supply for your pasta!
  • Harvesting basil is easy. The leaves should always be removed from the top to promote healthy growth!
Written By
Shirin Biswas

<p>With a degree in English from Amity University, Noida, Shirin has won awards for oratory, acting, and creative writing. She has a wealth of experience as an English teacher, editor, and writer, having previously worked at Quizzy and Big Books Publishing. Her expertise lies in editing study guides for children and creating engaging content.</p>

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