The Incredible Benefits of Basil Pesto (and a recipe!)
Pesto is one of those delicious foods that can be paired with so many meals. But it’s also a combination of two of the healthiest, superfoods around – olive oil and basil!
Let’s break down a classic pesto recipe and take a look at these miracle foods:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
You may have been blindly using olive oil for years. But have you ever stopped to actually learn about this magical oil? Not only does it taste beautifully buttery and nutty, but extra virgin olive oil contains:
- Powerful antioxidants – the antioxidant oleocanthal is said to help reduce inflammation and support the immune system. Extra virgin olive oil also contains beneficial polyphenols, natural compounds that have healing antioxidant properties that may provide significant protection against chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular problems and aging.
- Essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, vitamin E, iron, sodium, calcium, and potassium.
- A large dose of “good” fats that help our hearts. Extra virgin olive oil is packed with oleic acid, a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid that can help to regulate blood pressure.
Basil leaves are so flavorsome and sweet that you’ll want to munch on them whole. They also pack a mighty nutritional punch with essential nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, iron, potassium, and calcium.
It’s not surprising that basil is an herb with many medicinal properties:
- Basil is an antimicrobial which means it can fight viruses, bacteria, yeasts, and molds. In one study, basil oil had the strongest antimicrobial activity against all of the bacteria tested, including the dangerous Salmonella enteritidis.
- As with extra virgin olive oil, basil is also full of polyphenols and antioxidants that can combat aging and disease.
- Basil has shown anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties. The tulsi variety of basil has even been nicknamed “liquid yoga” for its calming effects
- Basil is loaded with magnesium which helps to regulate blood pressure and transports calcium and potassium for essential muscle contractions and nerve impulses.
But aside from these two “superfoods,” pesto also gains further health benefits from its other ingredients:
Parmigiano-Reggiano is a well-aged cheese, usually ripening between 12 -36 months. Aged cheeses may retain friendly bacteria (a.k.a. probiotics) derived from milk and also develop further lactic acid bacteria during the aging process. Parmesan one kind of cheese more likely to support probiotic growth, specifically the bacteria Lactobacillus casei, which keeps gut flora balanced, reduces the incidence and duration of diarrhea, and has even shown to decrease enzymes which can lead to colon cancer.
Pine nuts are high in linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated acid that humans can’t produce themselves and must therefore obtain from food sources. Linoleic acid is used by the body to make omega-6 fatty acids which play an important role in brain function, and skin and hair growth. They also maintain the reproductive system.
Garlic has been an ancient healer since the time of Hippocrates and continues to wow the modern world. Garlic can boost the immune system and help to derail the common cold. It can also reduce blood pressure and reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol.
What better way to combine these incredible foods, then to blend them into one delicious and nutritious homemade pesto recipe! Sure, you can buy pesto anywhere, but there’s nothing like making your own fresh batch, especially if you can pick basil from your own garden or potted collection. Basil plants flourish in the summertime!
Dr. Gundry of Gundry MD has created an incredibly simple, 2-step pesto recipe so you can have that fresh pesto in no time.
Dr. Gundry is one of the world’s preeminent experts in heart surgery and has devoted his life to improving human health and longevity. You can read more about his new food pyramid and Plant Paradox Diet HERE.
- GUNDRY’S BASIL PESTO RECIPE
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- Sea salt, to taste
- Pulse the basil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, and a little olive oil in the blender until well combined.
- Turn the blender to low and stream in the remaining olive oil. When you’re happy with the consistency, you’re done.
The uses for pesto are endless: You can drizzle it over your eggs, mix into salad dressing, toss it with your vegetables, use it as a meat marinade, or even drizzle it over your soup. It also makes an excellent dipping sauce. You can even freeze this pesto recipe in small batches – try using ice trays – and then use it whenever you desire a healthy, flavorsome oomph to your cooking!