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Heart Healthy Recipes, Issue #085 - Health Benefits of Basil
June 29, 2024

Welcome to Heart Healthy Recipes' Newsletter

Basil is the featured heart-healthy food for this month’s newsletter. Basil is usually in peak season from June through September and may be utilized in many ways. This herb can be a garnish, salad greens addition, along with being added to pesto and vinaigrette recipes.

Health Benefits of Basil

Basil, containing many nutrients and compounds, has health benefits ranging from antibacterial, anti-inflammatory to antianxiety (holy basil, also known as Tulsi).

The high levels of antioxidants in basil may help relieve cell damage caused by chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and free radicals.

Basil may also help manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels. For centuries traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have treated heart conditions with basil. Holy basil (Tulsi) contains eugenol, an oil that may help lower blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels. Studies have tested several forms of basil, including extracts, leaves and leaf powders.

Basil Varieties

Sweet Basil:

The most utilized and popular variety of basil. Sweet basil has the classic rounded and curved shaped leaves colored in a grass-green hue. It is a healthy, plant-base for pesto sauces.

Genovese Basil:

Also great in pesto and similar to classic sweet basil. This variety has larger, darker green leaves and a stronger flavor.

Thai Sweet Basil:

Thai sweet basil: Basil with flatter, pointier leaves than sweet basil and possesses a distinct black licorice flavor. The flavor of Thai sweet basil holds up well in high cooking temperatures making it a great choice for warm meal flavoring.

Purple Basil:

Antioxidant-rich basil with a powerful and bold flavor of cloves. This aromatic basil can be identified by its dark, reddish-purple leaves.

Holy Basil (Tulsi):

The leaves of holy basil, also known as Tulsi, are more bitter than other varieties. Native to tropical and subtropical regions of Australia, Malesia, along with Asia. This basil is often utilized for medicinal purposes in Ayurvedic medicine.

Classic Basil Pesto

Basil pesto made with heart-healthy pinenuts and classic sweet basil.

Recipe Ingredients:

½ cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove

1½ teaspoon of black pepper

2 cups basil leaves

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

¼ teaspoon sea salt (optional)

Recipe Instructions:

In a food processor, combine pine nuts, lemon, garlic, and black pepper. Add basil and pulse until blended thoroughly. Next, gradually add olive oil and sea salt, if desired.

Makes approximately 1 cup.

Genovese Basil Vinaigrette

Genovese basil adds healthy, bold flavor to this vinaigrette.

Recipe Ingredients:

2 cups (4 ounces) packed Genovese basil, stems removed

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon cumin

½ cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon of black pepper

Recipe Instructions:

In a high-powered blender add all the ingredients for basil vinaigrette. Blend until smooth consistency.

Storage: May be refrigerated for 3 days.

Makes 2 servings.

Basil Storage Ideas

Basil may be stored in a variety of methods including dehydrated, baked, or freeze-dried.


1. Pick the leaves off the stems. Wash and dry the fresh basil thoroughly.

2. Place the basil in a dehydrator on the lowest setting (usually 95°F). Allow the basil to dry for approximately 12 hours or until completely dry.

3. Basil, in an airtight container, stores for up to one year.


1. After picking the leaves off the stems, wash and dry fresh basil completely.

2. Blanche the leaves by quickly dipping them in boiling water for several seconds. Then place in a bowl filled with ice water.

3. Dry the leaves completely and store in single layers in an airtight container with parchment paper or wax paper between the layers.

Tip: Store approximately a ¼ cup of basil (15 to 20 leaves) in small airtight freezer packets or containers for easy convenience.

For More Basil Recipes, Please Visit:

Tomato Basil Pasta

Olive-Basil Focaccia

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Enjoy your favorite tea or beverage with a new mug. For availability, please visit:

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*Medical/Nutritional Disclaimer: Heart Healthy Recipes' Newsletter and website offers informational service only and the information contained in this newsletter is not intended as professional nutritional or medical advice. The content in this newsletter should not be used solely during a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider regarding any course of medical treatment.
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