Basil Seeds: It’s Fascinating Health Benefits
- 16 minutes read
Basil seeds are edible seeds, so they are not just for growing plants.
Basil seeds look just like sesame seeds – the only difference is that they are black. The botanical name of the basil plant is Ocimum basilicum. It is mostly used to season foods.
Basil seeds are also known by other names, such as tukmaria seeds, and sabja seeds.
Basil seeds have long been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. However, the health benefits of basil seeds have been tested in just a few studies.
Below are some fascinating health benefits of the basil seeds.
BASIL SEEDS ARE LOADED WITH MINERALS
According to the United States production nutrition labels, a tablespoon of basil seeds, or 0.5 ounces of basil seeds gives you 15 percent of calcium RDI, and 10 percent of iron and magnesium RDI.
Calcium is necessary for good development of the bones. The same goes for magnesium. Iron, on the other hand, helps in the production of red blood cells (1).
Most diets are deficient in magnesium and calcium. With basil seeds, you can meet up you’re your daily requirements of these nutrients.
Basil also serves as a good source of calcium and iron for vegetarians (2).
BASIL IS PACKED WITH FIBER
Basil seeds have high fiber content, especially soluble fiber (3, 4).
The health benefits of fiber in basil seeds are as follows:
- You can meet up with your fiber quota: A tablespoon of basil gives you 7g of fiber. That’s about 25 percent of the recommended daily intake. Research has shown that only 5 percent of Americans eat up to this amount of fiber (5, 6).
- May boost gut health. Studies have shown that pectin has many prebiotic benefits. This means that it boosts the gut flora. The gut flora here may include anti-inflammatory bacteria that boost gut health (7, 8, 9). Read more about PERFECT GUT HEALTH
- Satiety: The pectin in basil seeds keeps you feeling full for long. This component of basil seeds increases hormones that promote a sense of fullness. Pectin may delay stomach emptying and increase hormone levels that promote a sense of fullness. However, we are not certain whether basil is effective in curbing appetite, and by extension, weight loss (4, 10).
- Aids the control of blood sugar: A study involving type 2 diabetic patients showed that consumption of 10 grams of basil seeds after each meal for 30 days reduced their blood sugar level by 17 percent compared to the start of the study (11).
- Basil improves cholesterol: The pectin in basil is believed to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the gut. A study involving subjects who ate 7 teaspoons (30g) of
basil seedsfor 30 days showed an 8 percent reduction in total cholesterol (4, 7).
Because of inadequate scientific research on the health benefits of basil seeds, more research is required to verify these claims.
BASIL SEEDS SERVES AS A THICKENER AND STABILIZER
The fibrous, pectin-rich gum present in basil seeds are very valuable in the food industry. Why? Because it is flavorless and helps to stabilize and thicken mixtures (12, 13, 14).
For instance, the gum can stabilize your ice cream and minimize the growth of ice crystals by almost 40 percent compared to the conventional ice cream formulations (15).
The gum from basil seeds can also stabilize jellies, low-fat whipped cream, and salad dressings. It also substitutes for fat in mayonnaise and yogurt (16, 17).
Home chefs can also use these seeds to thicken sauces, soups, and desserts recipes.
THEY HAVE A LOT OF PHYTOCHEMICALS
Basil seeds are loaded with phytochemicals, such as flavonoids.
Flavonoids are antioxidants. This means that they have got the ability to fight free radicals. They also have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties (18, 19, 20).
A number of studies have linked a high intake of flavonoids to a reduced risk of heart disease (21, 22).
Also, a test tube study showed that the extract of basil seeds destroyed harmful bacteria and cancer cells (20).
However, not much research has been carried out on the specific health benefits of basil seeds. There is a need for further research on this subject.
AN IMPORTANT BEVERAGE INGREDIENT
Historically, basil seeds have been used as ingredients in drinks in Southeast Asia and India.
Falooda, an Indian beverage, is made with milk, rose-flavored syrup, and basil seeds. Some people may choose to add fruit, noodles, or ice cream.
As a plus, some food companies in the United Kingdom and the United States now sell beverages made with basil seeds.
The basil seeds make the drinks somewhat chewy, with lots of fiber in it.
IT IS RICH IN OMEGA-3 FATS
Basil seeds contain roughly 2.5g of fat per 0.5 ounces or 13-gram serving (17, 23).
Half of this fat is alpha-linolenic acid. Alpha-linolenic acid is omega-3 fat.
There is no recommended dietary intake for alpha-linolenic acid. However, women may take up to 1,100mg per day, while men may take up to 1,600mg daily. This amount is considered adequate for both genders (2, 24).
What this means is that only one tablespoon of basil seeds is enough to meet your daily need for alpha-linolenic acid.
Alpha-linolenic acid is used by the body to produce energy. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease (24, 25, 26, 27).
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF BASIL SEEDS?
Basil seeds have a very high fiber content. This may have some side effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Bloating is one of these side effects. Increase in fiber consumption is best done gradually so that your gut can adjust to it (6).
Also, there are claims that a tablespoon of basil seeds provide 185 percent of the recommended daily intake for vitamin K.
Vitamin K plays a very important role in blood clotting. Thus, consumption of basil seeds may interfere with blood-thinning medications (28, 29).
Basil seeds have a high fiber content. They are also rich in minerals, Omega-3 fat, and other essential compounds.
You can eat basil seeds by soaking them in liquid. Beverages made with basil seeds are popular in Southeast Asia and India. The United States is now catching on it.
Tonika Bruce, also known as The Network Nurse, is a multi-talented individual with a career spanning over 20 years. She’s a Registered Nurse, speaker, author, and advocate for change, excelling in business building and team development. Tonika holds two Master’s degrees in Nursing and Business Administration, (MSN & MBA) and is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership.
Her expertise extends to various fields such as nursing, entrepreneurship, business, basketball coaching, and executive leadership. She is a published author of “Relentless Pursuit: Proven Tips for Unlocking Your Potentials, Limitless Success and Post COVID Syndrome: A Guide to Repositioning the Nursing Profession for A Post COVID Era”. Currently, Tonika is working on Thrudemic, an anthology examining the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on medical professionals and patients.