|Basil leaves are round, often pointed, and green in color. There are more than 60 varieties of the plant, all of
which differ somewhat in appearance and taste.
The name "basil" is derived from an old Greek word which means "royal," reflecting the fact that ancient cultures
held the herb to be very noble and sacred. In India, basil was cherished as an icon of hospitality, whilst in Italy it
was a symbol of love.
Today, basil is mostly known for its highly fragrant leaves, which are
used as a seasoning herb for a variety of foods and have become
increasingly popular as the main ingredient in pesto.
Basil now grows in many regions throughout the world, but it was
first native to India, Asia and Africa. It is prominently featured in
varied cuisines throughout the world including Italian, Thai,
Vietnamese and Laotian.
Read on to find out how this plant will not only enhance the flavor of
your food, but also provide you and your loved ones with essential
Nutritional contribution & health benefits of basil
Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K and a very good source of
iron, calcium and vitamin A. In addition, basil is a good source of
dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium.
Furthermore, it is not a common allergenic food and provides
numerous health benefits. Research studies on basil have shown
unique health-protecting effects in two key areas: basil's
flavonoids and volatile oils.
The flavonoids found in basil provide protection at the cellular level. These components protect cell structures
as well as chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage.
Lab studies provide evidence that the volatile oils in basil have been shown to provide protection against
unwanted growth of numerous bacteria.* Scientists are using this research to try to develop natural food
The enzyme-inhibiting effect of the eugenol in basil qualifies it
as an "anti-inflammatory" food that can provide important
healing benefits along with symptomatic relief for individuals
with inflammatory health problems.
Cardiovascular Health Benefits
Basil is a very good source of vitamin A and carotenoids such as beta-carotene,
a very powerful anti-oxidant. Beta-carotene helps protect from free radical
damage, and prevent strokes caused by oxidized cholesterol in the blood
stream. Free radical damage is a contributing factor in many other conditions as
well, including asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The
beta-carotene found in basil may help to lessen the progression of these
conditions while protecting cells from further damage.
Basil is also a good source of magnesium, which promotes cardiovascular health by prompting muscles and
blood vessels to relax, thus improving blood flow and lessening the risk of irregular heart rhythms or a spasms
of the heart muscle or a blood vessel.
* July 2003 issue of the Journal of Microbiology Methods
Indulge in Basil with Alce Nero Organic Pesto (only available in Singapore)
Pesto is a simple but highly versatile mixture which can be used
in many ways. Use it straight from the jar, either cold or warmed
up, to complement many dishes or snacks. For optimal taste,
make sure you give it a stir, so that all the ingredients are
Toss it with your favorite pasta, on its own or with a little bit of
cream for a simple but delicious dish.
Spread it on bread on its own, as a base for Italian bruscetta recipes, or even to add an extra kick to your
sandwiches. Try grilling the bread & pesto combination for a few minutes before tasting for best flavor.
Drizzle it over any plain grilled meat, fish or vegetable. If the pesto is thick, try adding a little bit of olive oil to the
mixture. Using it to marinade your raw ingredients is also another option.
Last but not least, mix it with other ingredients to concoct virtually any recipe; your imagination is the only limit!
From luscious salad dressings to tasty stuffing, as part of a pizza base or made into a dip for your favorite hors
d’oeuvres, the possibilities are endless.