Basil Seeds: Health Benefits, Side Effects and More

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India has an incredible variety of herbs and spices, and one such indigenous seed is the basil or sabja seeds. Often known by a variety of names such as sweet basil seeds or falooda seeds, these seeds come from a variant of basil, a culinary herb valued for its strong, sweet, and somewhat spicy flavour. Not only does basil have a unique flavour, but the seeds of basil plants are also edible. 

Basil seeds are small, black, and gelatinous when soaked in water, similar to chia seeds. Basil seed is also an excellent source of nutrition. The seeds of basil plants have long been employed in herbal medicines by Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. It helps with digestion, encourages weight loss, enhances skin health, and has a cooling effect on the body, among other health advantages.

Nutritional Value of Basil Seeds

The nutritional value of 100 g of dried basil seeds is as follows:

Calories: 233 kcal

Carbohydrate: 47.8 g

Protein: 23 g

Fat: 4.07 g

Fibre: 37.7 g

Iron: 89.8 mg

Magnesium: 711 mg

Potassium: 2630 mg

Folate: 310 µg

Choline: 54.9 mg

Basil seeds contain 42% carbohydrates, 20% proteins, and 25% good fats. They also boast a variety of essential minerals like potassium, magnesium, copper, calcium, and magnesium. They are also rich in choline and folate. Moreover, for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, basil seeds are naturally gluten-free.

Chia Seeds vs. Basil Seeds

Basil seeds are often confused with chia seeds. Here are the key differences:

Colour: Basil seeds are jet black, while chia seeds’ colours are a mix of black, white, and grey.

Shape: Basil seeds are elliptical, while chia seeds are oval. 

Origin: Chia seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant, part of the mint family, similar to basil. Although they look alike, chia seeds are slightly larger and more oval. Plus, basil seeds swell faster in water.

Nutritional Composition: Both seeds offer high fibre, fatty acids, and beneficial compounds. Chia seeds contain a bit more fat and calories, but both can be a valuable addition to the diet.

Summary

Often mistaken for chia seeds, basil seeds differ in colour, shape, and origin. Plus, basil seeds swell faster in water. While both offer similar nutritional benefits, basil seeds are jet black and elliptical. In contrast, chia seeds come in a mix of colours and are oval. 

Health Benefits of Basil Seeds

Basil seeds are a complete source of vegetarian protein. Moreover, they have the highest nutritional value, playing a significant role in traditional medicines. With a nutrient-rich profile, basil seeds benefit in several ways. Here are some of the most prominent benefits of basil seeds:

Natural Body Coolant

Basil seeds have a cooling effect on the body, as per Ayurveda. It makes them a popular ingredient in refreshing beverages like lemonades, coconut water, and milkshakes. They help reduce body heat and soothe the stomach, providing relief from heat-related discomfort. Basil seeds neutralise the acidic effect in the body, providing relief from acidity and heartburn. Basil water helps the stomach lining by reducing the burning sensation.

Digestion and Gut Health

Basil seeds are rich in fibre, which aids digestion and promotes regular bowel movements. When soaked in water, these seeds form a gel-like substance that softens stools, preventing constipation. This natural detoxifier cleanses the body and regulates smooth bowel movements, ensuring a healthy gut. It also contains volatile oils like palmitic acid (5-13%), stearic acid (2-3%), oleic acid (6-10%), linoleic acid (12-32%) and linolenic acid. These oils help in relieving gas from the gastrointestinal tract and act as a stomach cleanser.

Blood Sugar Levels

For those managing diabetes, basil seeds can be a game-changer. These seeds slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, helping maintain steady blood sugar levels. Consuming basil seeds before meals prevents a spike in glucose levels, making them a valuable addition to a diabetic-friendly diet.

Weight Loss and Appetite Control

Incorporating basil seeds into the diet can support healthy digestion, effective nutrient absorption, and, ultimately, weight loss. Basil seeds are packed with soluble dietary fibre, keeping you full for more extended periods. It also reduces cravings and prevents overeating.

Skin and Hair Health

Basil seeds offer a natural solution for radiant skin and shiny hair. Their antioxidants fight free radicals, promoting clear and glowing skin. Additionally, their protein content strengthens hair, reduces hair fall, and encourages better hair growth. For a beauty boost, try applying a mixture of basil seed powder and rose water on your skin.

Oral Health and Overall Well-Being

Beyond their digestive and beauty benefits, basil seeds have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. They combat mouth ulcers, bad breath, and other dental issues, ensuring oral health. Moreover, basil seeds have a calming effect, reducing stress, tension, and anxiety, contributing to overall well-being.

Summary

As a natural body cooler, basil seeds lower body temperature and provide relief from acid reflux and heartburn. Their high fibre content facilitates the body’s detoxification, avoids constipation, and aids in digestion. They successfully control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Due to their ability to increase fullness and reduce cravings, basil seeds also help in weight loss. They fight free radicals and promote hair growth, which benefits the health of the skin and hair. Their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory abilities improve oral health and overall well-being.

How to Incorporate Basil Seeds in Diet?

To start, people shouldn’t consume more than two teaspoons of basil seeds in a day. It is all about balance when it comes to these wonder seeds.

Soak and Enjoy

Soak two teaspoons of basil seeds in warm water for 15 minutes. They swell up and go well in various drinks like lemonades, smoothies, and even soups.

Get Creative

Add soaked basil seeds to ice creams, pasta, and salads, or use them as crunchy toppings for desserts. They are versatile and can enhance the taste of any dish.

Healthy Snacking

Munch on soaked basil seeds as a low-calorie snack. They are perfect to curb those mid-day cravings.

Baking

Grind basil seeds and add them to baking recipes for a healthy twist. They can enhance the nutritional value of your favourite treats.

Summary

For consumption, soak basil seeds in water for 15 minutes. They can be added to a variety of beverages, desserts, salads, and even baked goods, enhancing both taste and nutrition. 

Potential Side Effects of Basil Seeds

While basil seeds are safe for most people, there are potential side effects and precautions to be aware of:

Digestive Issues: Some people may experience diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, acid reflux, or abdominal discomfort when consuming basil seeds.

Blood Sugar Concerns: Basil seeds can cause low blood sugar in some instances.

Medication Interaction: Be cautious if you’re taking other medications. Consult a healthcare provider or nutritionist before adding basil seeds to your diet.

Don’t Overdo It: Stick to the recommended dosage, which is around a tablespoon. Overconsumption can lead to the side effects mentioned earlier.

Watch out for Children: Make sure to soak the seeds in water before giving them to kids to prevent choking.

Pregnant Women Beware: If you’re expecting, consult a healthcare provider before trying basil seeds, as they can affect oestrogen levels.

Post-Surgery Caution: Basil seed oil and extracts can slow down blood clotting, so avoid them if you’ve had recent surgery. Stop using them at least two weeks before scheduled surgery.

Summary

Moderation is critical, as excessive consumption of basil seeds can lead to digestive issues, low blood sugar, or medication interactions in some cases. It is crucial to adhere to recommended dosages. Especially stay cautious with children, pregnant women, and individuals who have recently undergone surgery. Steer clear of basil seed oil and extracts if you’ve just undergone surgery, as they may slow down blood coagulation. 

HealthifyMe Suggestion

Basil seeds are extremely nutritious but you don’t need to over indulge in them. Ideally consuming up to a teaspoon a day is more than sufficient or you can combine them with other healthy seeds such as chia, flax, sunflower and pumpkin for additional health benefits. You can also use them to make a homemade trail mix that you can then store and snack on.

The Final Word

Basil seeds have the highest nutritional value and can help improve health in multiple ways. Basil seeds are rich in protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates and fibre. They are easy to incorporate into many dishes. But, since they are so rough, people cannot consume raw basil seeds. So, it is better to eat them after soaking them in water to increase their gelatinous texture. While research into further possible health advantages of basil seeds is still in the initial phases, consumption in moderate amounts may contribute towards a healthy diet.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are Basil seeds, and where do they come from?

A. Basil Seeds, also known as Sabja or Sweet Basil Seeds, come from a variant of the basil plant (Ocimum bascilicum).

Q. How are basil seeds different from chia seeds or other similar seeds?

A. Basil seeds are similar to chia seeds when soaked in water, becoming gelatinous. However, they differ in colour and shape. Chia seeds are a mix of black, white, and grey; basil seeds are jet-black and elliptical.

Q. What is the nutritional content of basil seeds?

A. Basil seeds are nutrient-rich, containing 42% carbs, 20% proteins, and 25% good fats. They also provide essential minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, and folates.

Q. Can basil seeds be consumed raw, or do they need to be soaked first?

A. Soak basil seeds in warm water for 15 minutes before consumption. They swell up and become gelatinous, making them suitable for various culinary uses.

Q. How do basil seeds expand and form a gel-like texture when soaked?

A. When soaked in water, basil seeds absorb liquid and form a gel-like substance. This characteristic texture is similar to chia seeds, making them versatile for different recipes.

Q. Are there specific health benefits associated with consuming basil seeds?

A. Yes, basil seeds offer several health benefits, including:
1. Natural body coolant
2. Aiding digestion
3. Regulating blood sugar levels
4. Supporting weight loss
5. Treating acidity and heartburn
6. Promoting skin and hair health
7. Contributing to overall well-being

Q. Can basil seeds aid in digestion and gut health?

A. Yes, basil seeds are rich in fibre, which aids digestion and promotes regular bowel movements. When soaked, they form a gel-like texture that softens stools, preventing constipation and detoxifying the body.

Q. How are basil seeds traditionally used in various cuisines?

A. Basil seeds are traditionally used in refreshing beverages like lemonades, coconut water, and milkshakes due to their cooling effect. They are also incorporated into dishes, ice creams, salads, and desserts to enhance flavour and nutrition.

Q. What is the recommended basil seeds serving size for optimal health benefits?

A. It’s recommended not to consume more than two teaspoons of basil seeds per day. Balance is critical when adding these seeds to the diet.

Q. Are there any potential side effects or allergies related to basil seed consumption?

A. While basil seeds are generally safe, some individuals may experience digestive issues, blood sugar concerns, or medication interactions.

Q. Can basil seeds be included in beverages and desserts?

A. Yes, basil seeds go well with a variety of beverages like lemonades and desserts like ice creams to enhance their taste and nutritional value.

Q. Do basil seeds have any impact on blood sugar levels or diabetes management?

A. Basil seeds can help manage blood sugar levels by slowing down the release of sugar into the bloodstream. They are a valuable addition to a diabetic-friendly diet when consumed before meals.

Q. How do basil seeds contribute to skin and hair health?

A. Basil seeds contain antioxidants that promote clear and glowing skin. Their protein content strengthens hair, reduces hair fall, and encourages better hair growth. Applying a mixture of basil seed powder and coconut oil can provide a beauty boost.

Q. Can basil seeds be used in weight loss and appetite control?

A. Yes, basil seeds are beneficial for weight loss and appetite control. Their high soluble dietary fibre content helps one feel full for longer, reducing cravings and preventing overeating.

Q. What are some creative recipes that incorporate basil seeds?

A. Basil seeds can be added to a variety of dishes, including ice creams, pasta, salads, and desserts, as a crunchy topping. They can also be used in baking recipes for a healthy twist, enhancing the nutritional value of dishes. Remember, moderation is vital, so do not overdo it.

Research Sources

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on basil seeds

Basil Seeds as a Novel Food, Source of Nutrients and Functional Ingredients with Beneficial Properties: A Review

A study on nutritional, functional and anti-nutritional properties of basil seed-incorporated products

A REVIEW ON SWEET BASIL SEEDS: Ocimum basilicum 

Nutritional Assessment of Basil Seed and its Utilisation in the Development of Value-Added Beverage

Biochemical, nutraceutical and phytochemical characterisation of chia and basil seeds: A comparative study

Health Benefits of Basil Seeds

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