Holy Basil Information
There are many rituals and beliefs associated with basil. The French call basil herb royale. Jewish folklore suggests it adds strength while fasting. It is a symbol of love in present-day Italy, but represented hatred in ancient Greece. African legend claims that basil protects against scorpions while European lore sometimes claims that basil is a symbol of Satan.
Holy Basil is highly revered in Hinduism and also has religious significance in the Greek Orthodox Church, where it is used to prepare holy water. It is said to have been found around Christ’s tomb after his resurrection. In Europe, they place basil in the hands of the dead to ensure a safe journey. In India, they place it in the mouth of the dying to ensure they reach God. The Egyptians and Grecians believe it will actually open the gates of heaven for a person passing on.
In Boccaccio’s Decameron a memorably morbid tale (novella V) tells of Lisabetta, whose brothers slay her lover. He appears to her in a dream and shows her where he is buried. She secretly disinters the head, and sets it in a pot of basil, which she waters with her daily tears. The pot being taken from her by her brothers, she dies of her grief not long after. The story is already told of the Longobard queen Rosalind.
Benefits of Basil:
Nutritional advantages of basil.
Basil is rich in a variety of important nutrients, most notably calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and vitamin C. In addition, basil is a good source of iron, potassium and magnesium.
Basil has a long and storied history, and the name basil is actually derived from an old Greek word “basilikohn”, which translates to “royal”. This fact helps to illustrate that basil was held in quite high regard by many ancient cultures around the world, both for its great taste and its many health benefits. This high regard for basil continues to this day, with basil being a symbol of love in Italy and a symbol of hospitality in India.
Basil is believed to have significant health effects, particularly in improving the health of the cardiovascular system. In addition, basil is a particularly good source of vitamin A, which is an essential ingredient of strong eyesight and healthy skin and hair. Basil contains high concentrations of carotenoids like beta carotene, and these substances are converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta carotene offers even more benefits than vitamin A alone, and it is known to be a strong antioxidant.
Antioxidants are important because they help prevent the cell damage that occurs from so called free radicals in the body. These free radicals are a natural part of the cell cycle, and they cannot be prevented. It is, however, possible to mitigate the damage done by these free radicals by eating a diet that is rich in antioxidant vitamins like beta carotene.
What to love about basil?
In addition to its important health benefits, basil is one of the most delicious herbs on the market, and it is for this good taste that basil is most well known. While basil is a staple of Italian cooking, it is used in a wide variety of recipes in other cuisines as well. If you open your favorite cookbook, chances are you will see page after page of recipes that use this versatile and delicious spice.
When choosing dried basil, however, it is important to choose those brands that have been on the market a long time, and those that are made using the highest quality manufacturing processes. That is because how spices are handled after harvesting can have a significant impact on their health benefits. Choosing the highest quality basil will help you reap the many rewards of this popular herb.