Many cuisines use basil as an herb to flavor dishes. Not only does basil have a unique flavor, but it is also a great source of nutrition. The seeds of basil plants are also edible. People in India and Southeast Asia often mix them into desserts and drinks, and basil seeds are increasingly used in other parts of the world. Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have used basil seeds in herbal remedies throughout history. Consumption of basil seeds is increasingly popular in Western culture.
Preliminary research suggests that the seeds may have health benefits, including supporting gut health, aiding in weight management, and helping to prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Although promising, current research is sparse and still in its infancy.
Here’s what to know about basil seeds, including their nutritional information, possible benefits, and potential risks.
Basil seeds: a nutritional richness
Basil seeds come from a variant of basil known as sweet basil (Ocimum bascilicum), which is native to tropical regions of Africa and Asia. These seeds are known by several names such as sweet basil seeds, sabja seeds and tukmaria seeds. They are oval in shape, black in color, and swell when soaked in water, producing a gelatinous mass.
Research shows that the nutritional composition of basil seeds varies depending on where they are grown. 100 grams (g) of basil seeds from India are proven to contain:
63.8g of carbohydrates
The main minerals contained in 100 g of basil seeds are:
2.27 milligrams (mg) of iron
Research also suggests that 100g of Indian basil seeds contain about 442 calories, or about 57.5 calories per tablespoon (13g).
Benefits of basil seeds
Basil seeds are rich in dietary fiber. One of the many health benefits of fiber is that it helps relieve or prevent constipation, which is a very common health problem. They help waste products move through the body and also contribute to healthy gut microbiota. Fiber may also be beneficial for people looking to manage their weight. A diet containing adequate amounts of fiber can prolong feelings of fullness after a meal. Increased fiber intake may be associated with promoting weight loss and greater success in dieting.
Evidence also shows that fiber may reduce the risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and type 2 diabetes. A 2016 study suggests that these potential anti-diabetic properties may also be present in basil seeds. The aqueous extract of basil seeds was an effective treatment for rats with diabetes, lowering both body weight and blood sugar. Although promising, more studies using whole basil seeds will be needed to fully understand their effects in humans.
Basil seeds contain compounds such as phenolics and flavonoids, which appear to have antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants are substances capable of countering unstable molecules, called free radicals, present in the body and likely to damage cells. Oxidative stress caused by free radicals has been linked to cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers. Evidence suggests that basil seeds may have better antioxidant potential than other seeds and therefore may benefit a person’s health.
Preliminary research suggests that basil seeds may also have promising antibacterial properties. One study showed that the seeds were effective against several different bacteria, most notably against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacteria that can cause pneumonia.
Other health benefits of basil seeds could come from the fatty acids they contain. They are particularly rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is an essential fatty acid. The body cannot make it, so it must get it from dietary sources. ALA, along with other fatty acids, can be a beneficial part of a healthy diet.
Some studies suggest that due to their ALA content, basil seeds may have anti-inflammatory effects on conditions such as arthritis, and potential anti-ulcer properties.
Research on basil seeds and their potential health benefits is showing promising results, but in many cases it is still in its infancy.
Precautions for use of large basil
When people soak basil seeds in water, the seeds swell and create a gelatinous mass. This may pose a choking hazard to children or people with swallowing difficulties. Since basil seeds contain high levels of fiber, eating too much can cause symptoms such as bloating, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. These symptoms can be avoided by gradually introducing sources of fiber into your diet, increasing your water intake and exercising more.
Basil seeds or chia seeds?
Chia seeds come from the plant Salvia hispanica, which, like basil, is part of the mint family, or Lamiaceae. Although similar in appearance, chia seeds are slightly larger and more oval in shape than basil seeds and come in a variety of colors. People tend to eat them raw, as well as soaked, while they generally prefer to eat soaked basil seeds.
Both have a bland taste, making them a suitable ingredient to add to many dishes. They both swell when soaked in water, but basil seeds swell faster. Just like basil seeds, chia seeds also contain high levels of fiber, fatty acids, and bioactive compounds, all of which may provide the same health benefits as basil seeds. of basil varies according to their origin, it is not easy to compare the nutritional values of the two seeds. However, chia seeds tend to be higher in fat and slightly higher in calories per serving.
Although there are small differences between the two seeds, new research suggests that chia seeds and basil seeds may offer similar health benefits, and people can easily incorporate the two into a diet.
How to include them in the diet
Basil seeds have a mild flavor and gelatinous texture when soaked, making it easy to add them to drinks and desserts. In many parts of Asia, people commonly use basil seeds in this way. An example of this is falooda, a very popular dessert in many parts of India. There are many recipes online for different dishes using basil seeds. In many of these recipes they are called sabja seeds or falooda seeds.
To add basil seeds to a dish, you can start by soaking them in water. Recipes differ on how long to soak, but most recommend soaking between 30 minutes and 2 hours before straining the water. Once strained, the seeds can be mixed in or added as a garnish:
– cold desserts
– smoothies and milkshakes
– lemonade or other drinks
You can also grind basil seeds and add them to cooking recipes, rather than soaking them in water.