Basil is a highly fragrant plant whose leaves are used as a seasoning herb for many different types of foods. Basil has round leaves that are oftentimes pointed. Basil looks a little like peppermint, which is not surprising since they belong to the same plant family.
Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese; a very good source of copper, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), and vitamin C; and a good source of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. Basil “contains a wide range of essential oils, rich in phenolic compounds, and a wide array of other natural products including polyphenols such as flavonoids and anthocyanins.” Holy basil extract was effective at killing off harmful molecules and preventing damage caused by some free radicals in the liver, brain, and heart. Basil has antibacterial properties; this may be because of the volatile oils it contains, which include estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene. Basil restricts the growth of numerous bacteria, including Listeria monocy -togenes, Staphylococcus, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This could mean that adding fresh basil to a salad not only adds flavor, it also helps reduce the number of harmful bacteria on the plate.