Poppy, sesame, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower… No, I’m not naming off trending baby names, I’m talking seeds. You name ‘em, I’ve sprinkled them all over my salads, cereals, and yogurts. I can’t even tell you the countless chia puddings I’ve made or how many sprinkles of flax I have added to my morning meals. This health food trend may be the easiest to incorporate into your diet, but are these seeds all they’re cracked up to be?
The latest addition is very similar to chia seeds in terms of consistency and nutritional value. Basil seeds, aka sabja seeds, are black seeds that come from the sweet basil plant. This super seed is making its spot among the long list of superfoods that are trending in the U.S., but its roots date back to ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Just like its friend the chia seed, they become gelatinous when mixed with liquid and are a popular digestion aid.
There is yet to be definitive research providing health benefits of basil seeds, but they are believed to aid in digestion. When the basil seed is exposed to water, a jelly-like substance forms around it called mucilage, which is thought to coat your digestive tract. These seeds have been used in traditional medicine to treat ulcers, indigestion, and diarrhea, while also relieving gas and constipation. In a preliminary study, basil seeds have been found to relieve constipation by acting as a bulk-forming laxative.
Traditionally, basil has been used as a culinary herb in Europe and Central Asia. In India, the seeds were used for diarrhea, mucous discharge, constipation, and general soothing of mucous membranes, while the leaves were used for indigestion and skin diseases. Traditional Thai herbalism has used the plant for coughs, skin diseases, and intestinal problems.
Basil seeds are a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, and fiber. Based on U.S. product nutrition labels, 1 tablespoon of basil seeds supplies 15% of your required daily intake for calcium and 10% for magnesium and iron. Since we normally do not get enough calcium or magnesium in our diets, adding basil seeds could help us to reach our daily requirements.
The fiber content of basil seeds, particularly soluble fiber (including pectin), can help you meet your fiber intake for the day. Just 1 tablespoon of basil seeds supplies 7 grams of fiber, which is 25% of your required daily intake. The pectin found in basil seeds has a plethora of benefits, ranging from supporting gut health, helping your stomach feel full, aiding in blood sugar control, and improving cholesterol. The seed’s high fiber content is also beneficial for daily nutritional requirements, but overdoing it can cause bloating. It is best to increase your fiber intake gradually, allowing your gut time to adjust to the increase.
They may be hard to find and not as easily accessible as chia seeds, but certain brands like McCormick are starting to put their eggs in the basil seed basket. It may be easier to find them in Indian, Thai, or Middle Eastern grocery stores. Zen Basil is a product that is USDA Certified, Vegan, and KETO friendly.
If you’re unsure how to incorporate these seeds into your diet, the simplest way is to add them to smoothies, soups, salad dressings, yogurt, pudding, and oatmeal. You can also include them in your baked goods! Grind and use them to replace a portion of the flour or you can even use them soaked to replace eggs in baked goods. One egg would be the equivalent of 1 tablespoon of basil seeds soaked in 3 tablespoons of water.
I have also been especially loving this basil seed drink recipe: Pineapple Limeade – aka Kulukki Sarbat from Kerala. It is sweet, tangy and mildly hot all at once.
½ cup of pineapple (finely chopped)
2 Sliced green chilies
½ liter of sparkling water
2 tablespoons of honey
Pinch of salt
4-5 Mint leaves
Soak the basil seeds in a cup of lukewarm water for at least 10 minutes – they should double in volume. In a big enough container, squeeze the lime and add the basil seeds, pineapple, honey, salt, and green chilies. Pour in the sparkling water. Mix/shake very well. Pour over ice in a tall glass. Add mint leaves and lime wedges for decoration and added taste.
What are your thoughts about this latest super seed? Will you give them a go? Or, have you already tried basil seeds? Share with us using #ATPBWellness and don’t forget to snap a photo!