The herb is well known for its use in Italian cuisine – it is a major ingredient in pesto sauce. Basil is also commonly used Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. Its highly fragrant leaves and aromatic with a robust licorice flavor. Excellent in pestos, as a finishing touch on pasta dishes (mixture of basil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese), or stuffed into sandwiches.

Nutritional Profile

This member of the mint family has been used as a medicinal plant, and its oils and extracts are said to have antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Fragrant fresh basil, for instance, offers a healthy dose of blood-clotting vitamin K — 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil provide 27% of the RDA — as well as vitamin A, manganese, and magnesium.

Health Benefits

Research studies on basil have shown unique health-protecting effects in two basic areas: basil’s flavonoids and volatile oils. apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin. These anti-bacterial properties of basil are not associated with its unique flavonoids, but instead with its volatile oils, which contain estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene.

How to Select and Store

Whenever possible, choose fresh basil over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. The leaves of fresh basil should look vibrant and be deep green in color. They should be free from darks spots or yellowing.

Related: Basil Tomato Red Pepper Soup – Chilled

Fresh basil should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. It may also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers. Alternatively, you can freeze the basil in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews. Dried basil should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months.


The name “basil” is derived from the old Greek word basilikohn, which means “royal,” reflecting that ancient culture’s attitudes towards an herb that they held to be very noble and sacred. The tradition of reverence of basil has continued in other cultures. In India, basil was cherished as an icon of hospitality, while in Italy, it was a symbol of love.

Nutrition Chart

Basil, chopped, fresh | 0.50 cup | 21.20 g | Calories: 5

Vitamin K87.94 mcg98
Vitamin C3.82 mg5
Vitamin A55.91 mcg 6
Vitamin B10.01 mg1
Vitamin B20.02 mg 2
Vitamin B30.19 mg 1
Vitamin B60.03 mg2
Manganese0.24 mg12
Folate14.42 mcg4
Iron0.67 mg4
Copper0.08 mg9
Magnesium13.57 mg3
Omega-3 fats0.07 g3
Omega-6 fats0.02 g0
Calcium37.52 mg4
Phosphorus11.87 mg2
Potassium62.54 mg2
Selenium0.06 mcg0
Sodium0.85 mg0
Zinc0.17 mg 2
Protein0.67 g1
Carbohydrates0.56 g0
Fiber0.34 g1

Percent Daily Values (%DV) are for adults or children aged 4 or older, and are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.

Tips for Preparing and Cooking

The Healthiest Way of Cooking With Basil

Since the oils in basil are highly volatile, it is best to add the herb near the end of the cooking process, so it will retain its maximum essence and flavor.

The Healthiest Way of Cooking With Basil read: Recipes.


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