Basil seeds are a new super seed that is hitting our health stores and supermarkets. High in antioxidants, fiber and minerals, these powerhouse seeds have long been used as a remedy in Ayuvedic and Chinese medicine. Although scientific research into basil seeds is relatively new, there is much to gain from adding these healthy seeds into your diet.

What are basil seeds?

Basil seeds are the seeds from the sweet basil plant (thai basil) Ocimum basilicum. The seeds are also known as sabja, falooda or tukmaria. Basil seeds are black but are similar in size and function to chia seeds. When soaked in water for a few minutes they increase in size and become gelatinous. They are often used in drinks, desserts (similar to chia seed pudding), as an egg replacer in baking, sprinkled on oatmeal, or as a general thickening agent.

Basil seeds are a good source of minerals including magnesium, potassium, calcium and copper.  They are rich in beneficial carotenoids including beta carotene, zeaxathin and lutein and they are high in iron.[1]

Basil seeds offer the following important health benefits:

1. Soothe the digestive system and support healthy bowel function

Basil seeds are high in fiber and they can help to relieve constipation and support healthy bowel function. In fact, basil seeds contain around 80g of dietary fiber per 100g of seeds. The consumption of soaked basil seeds has been traditionally used in Asian cultures as a remedy for constipation.

When soaked in water, basil seeds become gelatinous and form a layer of mucilage. In this form, basil seeds have a soothing affect on the digestive tract and the mucilage acts as a protective and soothing barrier for the stomach lining.

2. Help with weight loss

Basil seeds expand and swell to approximately 20 times their original size. This has the effect of physically making you feel full. The high content of soluble dietary fiber in the gelatinous seeds means that you remain satiated for longer periods and as a weight loss support, this can be highly beneficial and allow for appetite regulation.

3. Source of antioxidants

Basil seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are chemical plant compounds that exert anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. This protects our cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Research shows that basil seeds are a very good source of bioavailable antioxidants that can provide protection against a range of degenerative diseases.

One study determined that “ basil seeds are good source of micronutrients and have antioxidant potential which is highly beneficial for human health.” [2]

4. Control blood sugar levels

Basil seeds can help to manage and prevent type-2 diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels. Due to the high levels of soluble fiber, basil seeds help to slow down the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose. This slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream thus preventing insulin spikes.

5. Cool the body and relieves acid reflux

In Ayuvedic traditions and in countries throughout Asia, basil seeds are known to have a cooling effect on the body. The soaked seeds are commonly used as a base for cooling summer drinks. It is this cooling and soothing effect of the seeds that can help to relieve acid reflux. Preliminary (animal model) studies demonstrate that basil seeds help to reduce gastric inflammation and reduce mucosal swelling. [3]

How to use basil seeds

  • Add two teaspoons of basil seeds to approximately 100ml of room temperature water, stir well and leave for a few minutes while the seeds expand and thicken.
  • Add this to oatmeal, yoghurt, smoothies, vegetable juices, hydrating drinks, soups or smoothie bowls. Get creative with your basil seeds!
  • For an egg substitute use 1 tsp of ground Basil seed with 3 Tbsp of water

 

[1] https://www.aotearoad.com/

[2] http://researcherslinks.com/current-issues/Nutritional-Assessment-of-Basil-Seed/24/1/805/html

[3] https://asmic.akademisains.gov.my/download/journal/ASMSJ_Vol1_No1.pdf#page=4

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