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Basil is an herb that is a part of the mint family. It is considered to be the King of Herbs”, and this rightfully so as basil translates to king in Greek. It closely resembles peppermint in appearance. It is characterized by silky, green pointed leaves which are accented with white flowers.
It is characterized by its very unique and strong smell and distinct taste that resembles anise or licorice. There are a number of different basil varieties. It is estimated that there are nearly 50-150 types of basil.
Basil contains a many different properties which make it very useful. It is an excellent source of vitamins A and C. It also contains iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium and fiber.
Basil is used quite frequently for food. Basil is heavily used in Italian cuisine and basil is one of the main ingredients in the popular Italian sauce pesto. It is sometimes used to flavor jams and sauces and it complements berry dishes and products. Many believe that fresh basil is best when used for cooking. Dried basil is available but doesn’t have the same flavor as the fresh variety.
Basil is also used for a number of medical purposes. It is known to offer a number of health benefits. It possesses anti-bacterial agents which are effective in treating a number of different ailments. Some people utilize basil for its anti-inflammatory properties and for some it is used as a natural alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDS to treat such condition as rheumatoid arthritis. The high levels of vitamin A, beta-carotene, magnesium and potassium make the consumption of basil excellent for prevent and reducing negative cardiovascular occurrences. Thus, basil is an herb which has been used for centuries to season foods and fight a number of ailments.