Eating basil seeds may seem like a new health fad but in reality, this is an established and traditional practice in many parts of the world. While its health benefits are impressive, it is critical to understand the source, as well as the potential uses and side effects before adding these seeds to your natural health regimen.
Basil seeds have a long history of use in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, but their health effects have only been tested in a few studies.
What are Basil Seeds?
Basil seeds are the seeds of the basil plant, which is also known as great basil or St. Joseph’s Wort. Scientifically known as Ocimum basilicum, the basil plant is one of the world’s most famous herbs, and is used in numerous cuisines across the world. However, the seeds of this plant are often overlooked, despite having a rich concentration of powerful compounds and active ingredients that can impact human health. Some of the key active ingredients in basil seeds are:( dietary fiber, iron, protein, phytochemicals, polyphenolic compounds, orientin, vicentin, and other powerful antioxidants) .
Basil Seeds Health Benefits.
The most notable health benefits of basil seeds include their ability to improve digestive health, aid in weight loss efforts, boost the appearance of the skin, strengthen the hair, regulate blood sugar, cool the body, relieves stress, build strong bones, lower blood pressure, improve vision, reduce inflammations, lower cholesterol, and prevent certain infections.
Here are fascinating benefits and uses of basil seeds.
1. Good Source of Mineral.
Product nutrition labels, 1 tablespoon (13 grams or 0.5 ounces) of basil seeds supplies 15% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for calcium and 10% of the RDI for magnesium and iron.
Calcium and magnesium are essential for your bone health and muscle function, while iron is vital for red blood cell production .
Many people don’t get enough calcium and magnesium through their diet. Eating basil seeds could help you reach your daily needs of these nutrients.
Additionally, basil seeds could be an important source of iron and calcium for people who don’t eat meat or dairy products.
2. Packed with Fiber.
Basil seeds are high in fiber, particularly soluble fiber, including pectin .
Here are some ways the fiber in basil seeds may benefit your health:
▪️ Helps you meet your fiber quota.
Just 1 tablespoon (13 grams or 0.5 ounces) of basil seeds supplies 7 grams of fiber — 25% of the RDI.
▪️ Only about 5% of Americans eat enough fiber .
May support gut health. Test-tube studies suggest that pectin has prebiotic benefits, meaning it may nourish and increase beneficial gut bacteria. This may include anti-inflammatory bacteria that support gut health.
▪️ May help you feel full.
Pectin may delay stomach emptying and increase hormone levels that promote a sense of fullness. Still, it’s uncertain whether eating basil seeds to curb appetite is an effective weight loss strategy .
▪️ May aid blood sugar control.
When people with type 2 diabetes ate 10 grams (3/4 tablespoon) of basil seeds in water after each meal for a month, their post-meal blood sugar was 17% lower than at the start of the study.
▪️ May improve cholesterol.
Pectin may lower blood cholesterol by inhibiting cholesterol absorption in your gut. People who ate 30 grams (7 teaspoons) of basil seeds daily for one month had an 8% drop in total cholesterol .
3. Flavorless Thickener and Stabilizer.
The fibrous, pectin-rich gum from basil seeds could be a valuable ingredient in the food industry, as it’s flavorless and can help thicken and stabilize mixtures.
For example, it can stabilize ice cream and reduce the growth of unwanted ice crystals by 30–40% compared to standard ice cream formulations.
Basil seed gum can also stabilize salad dressing, low-fat whipped cream, and jellies, as well as serve as a fat replacement in yogurt and mayonnaise.
4. Rich in Plant Compounds.
Basil seeds are rich in plant compounds, including flavonoids and other polyphenols.
Flavonoids are antioxidants, meaning they protect your cells from damage by free radicals. These plant compounds also have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.
Several observational studies link higher flavonoid intake to reduced heart disease risk.
5. Plant Source of Omega-3 Fat.
Basil seeds contain an average of 2.5 grams of fat per 1-tablespoon (13-gram or 0.5-ounce) serving. This varies based on the growing conditions.
Of this fat, about half — 1,240 mg per tablespoon — is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat.
There’s no RDI for ALA, but 1,100 mg or 1,600 mg per day for women and men, respectively, is considered an adequate intake of this essential fatty acid.
Therefore, just one tablespoon of basil seeds could meet most — or even all — of your daily need for ALA.
Your body primarily uses ALA to produce energy. It may also have anti-inflammatory benefits and reduce your risk of certain conditions, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
6. Great Alternative to Chia Seeds.
Basil seeds are a little larger than chia seeds but have a similar nutritional profile.The most notable nutritional differences are that:
▪️ chia seeds contain more than twice the omega-3 fat but a little less fiber compared to basil seeds.
▪️ Chia seeds and basil seeds swell and form a gel when soaked. However, basil seeds swell quicker and to a larger size than chia seeds.
▪️ Both seeds have a bland flavor, so they can be used in many of the same recipes like smoothies and baked goods.
▪️ Chia seeds can also be eaten dry — for example, sprinkled on a salad — while basil seeds typically aren’t eaten dry, as they’re hard to chew.
Soaking the Seeds.
To soak basil seeds, add 8 ounces (237 ml or 1 cup) of water per 1 tablespoon (13 grams or 0.5 ounces) of basil seeds.
Use more water if desired, as the seeds only absorb as much as needed. Using too little water may cause the seeds to clump as they hydrate.
Let the seeds soak for about 15 minutes. As the seeds swell, they approximately triple in size. Additionally, the gel-like outer portion turns gray.
The center of a soaked basil seed remains black. This part has a light crunch when you chew it — similar to tapioca.
Strain the soaked basil seeds and add them to your recipe. If a recipe contains a lot of liquid, such as soup, pre-soaking is unnecessary.
Ways to Use Them.
For example, you can use basil seeds in:
▪️ lemonade and other drinks.
▪️ salad dressings.
▪️ hot cereal like oatmeal.
▪️ whole-grain pancakes.
▪️ whole-grain pasta dishes.
▪️ bread and muffins.
When using basil seeds in baked goods, you can grind them and use them to replace part of the flour rather than adding them soaked.
Alternately, you can use soaked basil seeds to replace eggs in baked goods. Use 1 tablespoon (13 grams or 0.5 ounces) of basil seeds soaked in 3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces or 45 ml) of water to replace 1 egg.
Possible Side Effects.
The high fiber content of basil seeds may cause digestive side effects like bloating. It’s generally best to increase fiber intake gradually to give your gut time to adjust.
Additionally, one basil seed supplier claims that the seeds provide 185% of the RDI for vitamin K per tablespoon (0.5 ounces or 13 grams).
Vitamin K aids blood clotting. Therefore, eating basil seeds could interfere with warfarin and similar blood-thinning drug treatments.
Another benefit of basil seeds.
With such an impressive concentration of antioxidants and flavonoids, basil seeds are able to improve the health of the skin and stimulate the growth of new cells. Antioxidants counter the effects of free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress and eventually lead to cellular mutation, resulting in wrinkles, age spots, and blemishes. Regular use of these seeds acts as an anti-aging substance, reducing the appearance of age-related marks and scars.
With a significant level of iron and various antioxidants, basil seeds can stimulate the production of hair and prevent premature hair loss. The iron helps blood circulation to the scalp. It also helps in the growth of strong hair from the follicles. In women with iron deficiency, iron supplements are usually recommended to ensure the efficacy of hair loss treatment. Basil seeds provide a natural alternative to these pills. The antioxidants in these seeds will also help prevent inflammation and oxidative stress on the scalp, which is one of the major reasons for hair loss.
Basil seeds are extremely high in fiber, which works to bulk up the stool and make you feel full. This prevents overeating and snacking between meals. Furthermore, when these seeds are digested, they may swell to 20 times their original size, physically filling you up and satisfying your appetite, making it much easier to avoid those calorie-heavy snacks.
Controls Blood Pressure.
Basil is used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating a host of chronic diseases, including hypertension. Research found that basil has an effect on lipid metabolism and platelets. As a result, its consumption can help in controlling blood pressure.
Boosts Bone Health.
With a diverse range of minerals in basil seeds, including iron, potassium, copper, calcium, manganese, and magnesium, eating these seeds on a regular basis will help improve bone mineral density. This will lower your risk of developing osteoporosis, keeping you feeling young and strong as you age.
Regular consumption of basil seeds can help reduce episodes of depression, boost your mood, and reduce levels of stress hormones in the body.
Given its notable amount of vitamin A, basil seeds are recommended for people with failing vision or those with high levels of oxidative stress. Vitamin A acts as a powerful antioxidant in the retina, preventing the development of cataracts and slowing down the advent of macular degeneration.
When it comes to conditions like arthritis, gout, headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), basil seeds are known to reduce the severity of those episodes and provide pain relief rather quickly. By preventing the release of pro-inflammatory compounds and cytokines, the active ingredients in these seeds take an active role in many common health conditions.
Marsha McCulloch (12-3-2019), “12 Fascinating Benefits and Uses of Basil Seeds”، www.healthline.com
John Staughton (29-1-2020), “10 Amazing Basil Seeds Health Benefits & Uses”، www.organicfacts.net,