Basil is a delicious herb that belongs to the mint family. This herb is a great ingredient to cook with and it is extremely healthy for you. Many people mistake basil as a spice rather than an herb. Basil does much more than just gives spice to your food. It gives it that delicious flavor and works as natural cures in many ways. Basil is a native herb to India that was brought to the United States many years ago.

Many times you will find this ingredient in soup, spaghetti sauce and other Italian dishes. Most cooks will usually allow the leaves to dry, crush them, and sprinkle them into different meals and side dishes. You can also make cheese spreads, dips and fresh bread using this herb. Some even place this in their tea to give off a mint flavor. If you use basil to cook with, only cook for a short period of time. Heating it too long may obliterate the great flavor. Crushing leaves work best if you want to save some of your basil. If you plan on only using a half of leaf, cutting the leaf with a knife will cause the edges of the leaf to turn brown and will go bad a lot quicker. While some enjoy eating this herb raw others do not prefer it. As of now, there haven't been any known side effects from eating basil raw or eating too much of it.

Basil is extremely healthy for your body. It has been proven to treat respiratory problems, diabetic issues and prevent cancer. It is also used to help treat severe inflammation. Severe inflammation usually happens if you have broken a bone or you have an infected tooth. A cut would be considered mild inflammation. If you have been injured, some inflammation is normal as your body is trying to treat what is infected. However, if your body ever has a severe infection then too much inflammation can be harmful. Surprisingly, most anti-inflammatory medicines come from plants. Basil is one of the most effective natural cures as it releases nitric oxide which helps cut down inflammation. Taking basil has also been proven to decrease problems with diabetics y lowering glucose levels. The prevention of cancer is yet another reason to take this healthy herb. Many people know that by eating more fruits and vegetables the risk of cancer is reduced. The same is true for herbs. The amount of antioxidant properties is the reason that basil reduces cancer risks. Basil is full of antioxidant vitamins, calcium, potassium and zinc. If you see yourself as being a very healthy person, you still will benefit from eating basil. Immune systems are built and cholesterol levels are lowed just by using this wonderful herb. By lowering your cholesterol you are reducing your chances of a heart attack or other heart related problems.

You can easily grow basil in your garden at home. Basil can be planted by using seeds which is very difficult to do. It can also be planted by this already fully grown plant. Placing the plant into the ground rather than starting with seeds is the easiest thing to do. Even if you don't have a full garden but want to grow basil, all you really need is a small area with soil that receives both sunlight and shade throughout the day. When growing basil in your garden, it really only needs about three to four hours of sunlight a day. Planting basil is very simple. Make sure you dig only about three inches down. It is also beneficial to place a thin layer of stones between the plant and the soil to allow the basil to stand up straighter. The more it leans, the easier and quicker it will die. Once the leaves start changing brown, this is usually a bad sign as it means that your plant has not survived. Water is helpful to this herb but it sure doesn't need it every single day. If there hasn't been rain of a week and a half, then you may want to fill up your watering can and immerse the roots in water for proper growth. Be sure to not over water this plant but to make sure the roots are fully soaked. When the flowers begin to blossom on the leaves of this herb, this means that your basil is ready to be picked. The blossomed flowers will be a purple color. You can easily get the basil leaves off by starting at the roots and working your way up to the top. You can use your leaves right away to cook or wait until they have dried up. Many prefer the flavor of using the dried leaves since it isn't as strong. However, the leaves lose a lot of its mineral oils and vitamins once the leaves have dried. When they are just freshly picked, the leaves will give off a very strong mint flavor. Be sure to wash your herb before you use it especially if you have used a weed killer or a plant protector to fend off rabbits and squirrels. If you grow your own basil rather than buying from a grocery store, you will most likely have a lot left over after the season. After you have given this herb away to some of your family, friends and neighbors and have explained to them how to benefit from it, you can successfully freeze any you have left. You can keep basil from spoiling by freezing it in a plastic bag with a teaspoon of water. The water will prevent the basil from drying up and give it some moisture to live off of. Now, you can cook with basil all year round.

Eating basil is healthy for you and your entire family. Be sure to introduce basil into your children's lives at a young age so they can grow up loving basil just as much as you do. They may even serve it to their children and explain how beneficial the herb is. This great advice could be passed on from generation to generation.