Basil seeds or the seeds of the Ocimum sanctum plant are a popular ingredient in desserts and drinks in some parts of the world and have been used in ayurveda, unani, and traditional Chinese medicine and in folk remedies for generations. These nutrition-packed little seeds are protein-, iron-, and fiber-rich and don’t load you up with calories, making them great for your health.
1. Soothe Your Digestive System
Like chia seeds, basil seeds to swell up to form a gelatinous outer layer. This mucilage helps line your digestive tract, soothing it and aiding digestion due to its fiber content. They have been used for treating problems with bowel movements like constipation, diarrhea, or dysentery. They are also believed to have diuretic properties.1 Basil seed oil also has an anti-inflammatory effect that makes it a good anti-ulcer treatment for anyone with gastric ulcers.2
2. Help In Weight Loss
Basil seeds are low-calorie foods that pack in a lot of nutrition, including protein, fiber, vitamins, and even omega-3 fatty acids. They’ve even been considered an appetite suppressant and may help with weight loss.3 With its high levels of soluble dietary fiber, basil seeds are able to delay gastric emptying and increase a feeling of fullness or satiety. This means you’re less susceptible to hunger pangs that lead to your reaching for a calorie-dense snack high in sugar, salt, fats, or all three. Over time, such eating could translate to weight gain.
Eating basil seeds as part of a healthy snack or as part of your meal could keep you full and lower chances of going rogue on a healthy eating plan.4
However, you should realize that these seeds do contain some calories. Also, making them a part of your diet does not mean you can indulge in whatever you feel like eating. You need to use them as an aid to help your fitness, combined with exercise and a healthy diet.
3. Treat A Cough Or Cold
Persian herbal medicine specialists have used basil seeds for centuries to treat everything from a common cold and cough to asthma. The seeds are said to have an antispasmodic effect that is beneficial for the treatment of these ailments. It is also antipyretic and can help bring down a fever if you have one.5
4. Offer Chemopreventive Properties
Basil seeds contain high levels of linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and other beneficial fatty acids. The antioxidant activity is believed to, in part, contribute to the chemopreventive activity of the seeds.6 An animal study found that when Ocimum sanctum seed oil was given to mice who had tumors, it improved their survival rate. It also helped delay the incidence of tumor in mice that were injected with tumors for the study.7
5. Cut Inflammation
The seeds of basil have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with swelling and edema and the associated inflammation. Ayurveda has been known to use basil seeds for reducing arthritic swelling. Animal studies have confirmed that the seeds have an anti-inflammatory effect that can help with paw edema in test rats, as well as in treating castor oil-induced diarrhea due to its inhibitory effect on inflammatory pathways in the body.8
6. Improve Cardiovascular Health And Treat Hypertension
The antihyperlipidemic activity of basil seeds can help those with cholesterol problems. They are also used by ayurveda to treat hypertension. One study tested this action of the seed oil by administering it to rats that had been given a high-fat diet. The oil significantly reduced the high lipid levels in the body and exerted a cardioprotective effect on the animals against hyperlipidemia. Researchers explain that this is primarily due to the action of the oil in suppressing liver lipid synthesis.9
7. Boost Immunity
Basil seeds have high flavonoid and phenolic content.10 Antioxidant-rich ingredients can help boost your immunity and offer protection against free radical damage that’s responsible for aging as well as other cellular damage.
8. Boost Oral Health
Besides being anti-inflammatory, which can help you with treating mouth ulcers, the seeds are good for oral health in general. Their antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties make them a great choice of mouth freshener that can also protect against a host of dental issues like cavities, plaque, and bad breath.11
9. Combat Stress And Depression
Another application of basil seeds has been for alleviating stress. The seeds are said to have a calming effect on the mind, easing stress and tension. They help with mental fatigue and depression, improving your mood. However, as one preclinical study clarifies, while basil seeds do have significant antistress activity, the extent and effectiveness are not comparable to that of a standard anxiolytic agent.12
10. Balance Your Fatty Acid Ratios
Basil seeds are rich in phytochemicals like linoleic acid, oleic acid, and linolenic acid – including an alpha linolenic acid (ALA) profile that’s been compared to flax seed oil, a popular nutritional supplement. Basil seed oils have between 57.4 and 62.5% ALA, and an omega 6 fatty acid to omega 3 fatty acid ratio of between 1:1.6 and 1:3.6.13
These are great numbers and make the oil a good source of fatty acids. An overall dietary intake ratio that leans towards more omega 3 is considered better and can cut your risk of total mortality as well as of cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases, and even cancer.14
Careful How You Have Them
Due to their property of swelling tremendously when in contact with water, these seeds need to be consumed carefully.
- Always pre-soak them in water so that they are already swollen to their maximum size when you consume them. If you don’t, you could gag or choke on them due to their swelling up in your food pipe once consumed.
- Children should not be given this without proper supervision, as they could easily choke on the seeds.
- Pregnant women should always check with their doctor before consuming any new food as a supplement.
- For everyone else, a few grams a day have therapeutic benefits. Consuming a soaked spoonful in a drink or dessert should be fine.
|↑1||Sharma, S. M., and D. G. Bhadange. “A review on study of medicinal uses of some aromatic plants.” World J. Microb. Biotechnol (2013): 1-14.|
|↑2, ↑6||Wohlmuth, Hans. “Sacred basil–an Ayurvedic adaptogen.” Information & Research On Botanical Medicine (2000).|
|↑3, ↑10, ↑11||Parikh, Nisha H., and Charmy S. Kothari. “Phytochemical Analysis and Total Phenolic and Flavonoid Contents Determination of Methanolic Extract of Ocimum basilicum L seed.” International Journal of PharmTech Research 9, no. 4 (2016): 215-219.|
|↑4||Putadechakum, Supanee, and M. D. Viehai Tanphaichitr. “on human body composition.” (2005).|
|↑5||Kadian, Renu, and Milind Parle. “INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHARMACY & LIFE SCIENCES.” Int. J. of Pharm. & Life Sci.(IJPLS) 3, no. 7 (2012): 1858-1867.|
|↑7||Prakash, Jai, and S. K. Gupta. “Chemopreventive activity of Ocimum sanctum seed oil.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 72, no. 1 (2000): 29-34.|
|↑8||Singh, Surender, D. K. Majumdar, and H. M. S. Rehan. “Evaluation of anti-inflammatory potential of fixed oil of Ocimum sanctum (Holybasil) and its possible mechanism of action.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 54, no. 1 (1996): 19-26.|
|↑9||Suanarunsawat, Thamolwan, T. Boonnak, W. D. Ayutthaya, and Suwan Thirawarapan. “Anti-hyperlipidemic and cardioprotective effects of Ocimum sanctum L. fixed oil in rats fed a high fat diet.” J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol 21, no. 4 (2010): 387-400.|
|↑12||Bathala, Lakshmana Rao, Ch Vekateswara Rao, S. Manjunath, S. Vinuta, and Raghu Vemulapalli. “Efficacy of Ocimum sanctum for relieving stress: a preclinical study.” J Contemp Dent Pract 13, no. 6 (2012): 782-786.|
|↑13||Abedi, Elahe, and Mohammad Ali Sahari. “Long‐chain polyunsaturated fatty acid sources and evaluation of their nutritional and functional properties.” Food science & nutrition 2, no. 5 (2014): 443-463.|
|↑14||Simopoulos, Artemis P. “The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy 56, no. 8 (2002): 365-379.|