Basil Seeds Have Health Benefits. Who Knew?
Recently I was wandering through an Asian market and came across Dried Basil Seeds. In my haste, I thought it just said basil seeds. Hmmm, maybe they were for sprouting, or at the very least I could plant them?
So I bought them, and when I got home saw the “dried” on the label. Like any self-respecting Green Diva, I googled it and learned that they act much like my beloved chia seeds. Like most seeds, they’re chock full of nutrients and are considered by some to be a super food. One difference (that I liked) is that the basil seeds plump up in minutes, whereas the chia seeds may take hours. And I really like the tapioca texture of these seeds. Just because they aren’t as “trendy” yet, doesn’t mean they aren’t fabulous.
Here are a few things that I learned:
- These seeds are also called sabja seeds, Arabic falooda seeds, Thai holy basil (which is apparently different from holy basil), Tulsi, selashi and turmaria. And are best known around the world for being the main ingredient in many sweet Asian drinks.
- They are often used in Ayurvedic and Siddha medicine in India and also Chinese medicine.
- They plump up just like chia seeds and can be used interchangeably in most recipes. I even throw them in my morning smoothies. Like chia seeds they don’t have much flavor which also makes the versatile.
- Cooling – they are cooling, which is why they are added to many cool drinks like falooda, rood afza, nimbu pani and sherbets.
- Colds etc. – they are good for sore throats, cold and respiratory disorders.
- Digestion – they can aid in digestion and relieve constipation.
- Stress relief – they can have a calming effect and can uplift your mood.
- Skin relief – they are good for skin infections.
- Weight loss – they can curb your appetite if you consume them in a gelatinous drink before a meal.
Listen to this interesting Green Divas Foodie-Phile segment about dried basil seeds, then read on to learn lots more about dried basil seeds AND get a couple of great recipes!
Nutritional benefits of basil seeds:
- Basil contains many polyphenolic flavonoids especially Orientin and Vicenin. These provide the antioxidant benefits.
- Basil leaves are rich in many essential oils like eugenol, citronellol, linalool, limonene, citral and terpineol. These provide antibacterial and anti inflammatory benefits.
- Low in calories and free of cholesterol.
- High levels of beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, Vitamin A and Vitamin K.
- Contains good amounts of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, calcium and magnesium, and vitamins C and folates.
- Excellent source of iron at 40 percent RDA per 100 grams.
How to prepare basil seeds
Add 2 tsp. of dried basil seeds to ½ to 1 cup of a warm (not hot) liquid of your choice (water or juice). After the seeds swell, you can choose to drain the extra liquid or include it. As the seeds plump up, they will begin to release their antioxidants and digestive enzymes. Let the seeds stand in the liquid for at least 2 minutes, and watch them transform into a gelatinous-tapioca like texture. They will be ready to include in your favorite recipe. You are only limited by your imagination.
How to collect seeds
You can collect these seeds from your own basil plants. Let the basil flower bloom, wither then dry. When the flowers are good and dry you can put the flowers on something flat and gently blow the debris away and collect the tiny black seeds. They are fully mature when they easily detach from the flowers.
Always watch children and the elderly when drinking basil seed drinks. The seeds may clump together which could cause choking if not enough liquid is used to make the drinks. Pregnant women or those trying to conceive should not use basil since it lowers the levels of estrogen.
Basil Seed & Berry Pudding
Gluten-free & vegan too!
1 cup of almond milk, vanilla flavor if you wish
1 cup of plain yogurt, I use coconut or goat
2 T pure maple syrup, plus 4 t for servings (optional)
Pinch of Salt
¼ cup of dried basil seeds
1 pint of berries, any kind
¼ cup of sliced, toasted almonds
- In a bowl whisk almond milk, yogurt, vanilla and the 2T of maple syrup until blended.
- Add basil seeds and let stand 20 minutes.
- Stir to move the seeds around, cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to assemble the pudding, mix the fruit with remaining maple syrup (if desired) and almonds in a separate bowl.
- Divide the pudding into four bowls and mound the berry mixture on top. Voila!
For something even more decadent, you can add melted semi-sweet chocolate chips to the pudding mix. Make sure the melted chocolate is not too hot when you add it to the pudding.
Traditional Thai Basil Seed Drink Nam Mengluck
Yummy and nutritious!
1 tablespoon basil seeds, culinary seeds only
6 tablespoons simple syrup, Grenadine, Torani or Hale’s syrup
2 cups ice-cubes
1 cup cold water
2 basil sprigs or flowers for garnish
- Combine 1 cup water and basil seeds in a pitcher and let it sit for 15 minutes.
- Then stir in simple syrup, grenadine syrup or Torani, ice-cube and cold water.
- Pour in two-chill-tall glasses and garnish with basil sprigs or flowers.
Lemony Basil Seed Drink
Refreshing and nutritious!
2 c. water
1 t basil seeds (sabja)
5 T honey
Pinch of salt
- In a bowl combine basil seeds with ½ c water and let stand for 10-15 mins.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to a pitcher and mix.
Written by Green Diva Lisa.