Basil seeds have been used traditionally in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine and now they’re starting to get noticed in the West. Although research is still emerging to support the various health claims surrounding basil seeds, they definitely look like a healthy seed worth adding to your diet.
Which Basil Seeds?
The basil seeds that are used for eating are the seeds from the sweet basil plant, Ocimum basilicum. They are also called Thai basil seeds, falooda, sabja, subza, selasih or tukmaria.
This is different from the holy basil plant, Ocimum tenuiflorum, which is also called tulsi. The leaves and oil of holy basil are used in Ayurvedic medicine for many purposes, but typically not the seeds.
Sweet basil seeds are a similar size as chia seeds. The difference is basil seeds are completely black and tear-shaped, whereas chia seeds are typically mottled shades of grey with brown and have a more rounded shape.
Like chia, basil seeds become gelatinous when soaked in water. They are used in drinks in many Asian countries for thickening as well as for health.
Potential Health Benefits of Basil Seeds
Basil seeds are reported to have antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral, antibacterial, antispasmodic and antifungal properties.
Very little scientific research has been done on basil seeds to date. This may be because there is not a large market for the seeds yet. But some preliminary research looks promising.
Blood Sugar Regulation: According to the Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, basil seeds may help control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
Digestion Help: When soaked, the fiber in the outer coat of basil seeds becomes mucus-like A few studies suggest that this fiber has a laxative effect. Basil seeds are also used to relieve stomach cramps, flatulence, constipation and indigestion.
Appetite Control: It’s suggested that the fiber in the soaked seeds has the effect of making you feel more full. This could help reduce your appetite and assist with weight loss.
Respiratory Aid: Traditionally, basil seeds are used to treat colds, flu, coughs and asthma.
Stress Relief: Consumption of basil seeds is said to have an uplifting effect on your mood and can help with mental fatigue, depression and migraine headaches.
Skin Treatments: Basil seeds can be crushed into oil as a skin treatment for wounds, cuts or skin infections.
Lowering Cholesterol Levels: A study in Thailand described how sweet basil seeds could be used to reduce cholesterol levels in patients.
Genitourinary Infections: Due to their reported antibacterial effects, basil seeds supposedly help with issues such as bladder infections and vaginal infections.
A detailed nutritional study of basil seeds is currently not available. But like other seeds, basil seeds contain all the concentrated nutrients and building blocks needed to grow a new plant.
No toxicity or any harmful effects have ever been found for basil seeds. They’re recognized as safe to eat.
Their basic nutritional make-up compared to chia seeds is:
|Basil Seeds||Chia Seeds|
|Carbohydrates||42 percent||30 percent|
|Fats||25 percent||34 percent|
|Protein||20 percent||24 percent|
How to Prepare and Use Basil Seeds
If you have any favorite recipes that use chia seeds, you can easily replace the chia with basil seeds. They have very similar thickening properties. For instance, chia puddings are a popular dish that can be easily made with basil seeds instead.
Basil seeds actually soak up water faster than chia. Basil will soften within about 5 minutes, whereas chia can take up to an hour to soften. Both seeds will create a thick, gelatinous mixture.
You can use the soaked basil seeds right away if you’re in a hurry, but it’s recommended to soak basil seeds for at least a couple hours before using them. This will ensure their digestive enzymes are fully released.
You can use the soaked seeds with their jelly-like coat or rinse and strain the seeds if you want to get rid of the coating.
These are a few different ways you can start eating basil seeds:
- Add them to drinks, such as fruit juices, coconut milk or teas.
- Blend them into smoothies.
- Sprinkle on top of salads.
- Mix into vegan cheeses or cream sauces.
- Use them in desserts where you would use tapioca or other thickeners.
- Combine with yogurt and fruit.
Avoid giving drinks or desserts with whole, soaked basil seeds to children or anyone with swallowing difficulties. They could possibly choke on the swollen seeds, especially if they’re clumped together.
Basil seeds may be carried in your local natural or Asian foods stores. If you can’t find them locally, they are available online. Desserts and frozen, canned or fresh drinks with basil seeds may also be available in some parts of the United States and other countries.
Another option is to collect the seeds from your own sweet basil plants if you grow them. Just let the plants flower and develop seeds. Once they mature, you can easily put the flowers in a paper bag, close and shake it, then remove the flower debris at the top of the bag. The heavier seeds should fall off and collect at the bottom of the bag.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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