We all know that pesto is delicious but did you know that it’s also a superfood? When something tastes that good, and is also good for you, it’s certainly a time to celebrate!
So, what is it about the classic pesto recipe – basil, extra virgin olive oil, pinenuts, parmesan and garlic – that makes it such a superfood? Well, pesto combines two of the healthiest foods around: basil and extra virgin olive oil.
Basil is an incredibly medicinal herb which packs not only a wonderful flavor but also adds some powerful health properties to your pesto recipe. Here’s 5 reasons why you should be munching on basil:
- Basil is full of essential nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, iron, potassium, and calcium.
- Basil can fight viruses, bacteria, yeasts, and molds and has shown to be one of the strongest antimicrobials, even against the serious salmonella enteritis bacterium which causes food poisoning.
- Basil is also full of polyphenol antioxidants which fight free radicals and reduce the signs of aging.
- Basil has shown anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties
- Basil is loaded with magnesium which helps to regulate blood pressure and is essential for the body to perform muscle contractions.
Extra Incredible, Extra Virgin
Extra virgin olive oil is extracted from olives using a cold-pressed method and is the highest quality of all olive oils, with the most micronutrients. It also tastes the best! An interesting tip: If the olive oil makes you cough a little because it’s so peppery, that’s the one you want. This happens because of the really high polyphenol content, and we’re about to find out why that matters. Here’s 5 reasons why extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) enhances that pesto recipe:
- EVOO has some potent antioxidants. In fact, the antioxidant known as oleocanthal can help reduce inflammation and support the immune system.
- EVOO contains high levels of polyphenols, natural antioxidant compounds that not only fight aging but also help to balance the bacteria in your digestive system which in turn supports the immune system.
- EVOO contains essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, vitamin E, iron, sodium, calcium, and potassium.
- EVOO is a “good” fat – a healthy monounsaturated fat – that helps to keep our hearts healthy and helps to lower cholesterol.
- EVOO is rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid that can also help to regulate blood pressure.
But parmesan, pine nuts and garlic aren’t just fillers here. They each have their own health benefits to bring to the pesto party.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is a well-aged cheese that’s full of the friendly bacteria Lactobacillus casei which keeps gut flora balanced, the immune system in harmony and has also shown to be able to decrease enzymes which may lead to colon cancer.
Pine nuts are high in linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated acid that humans can’t produce themselves but that the body uses to make omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids play a big role in brain function, and skin and hair growth.
Garlic can boost the immune system and remedy the common cold. It can also reduce blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
So then, let’s make pesto!
Dr. Gundry of Gundry MD has supplied us with a very simple pesto recipe. As one of the world’s leading experts in heart surgery, Dr. Gundry is an expert in chronic disease and obesity and has developed a whole new way to look at food.
- 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.
If you only grow one herb this summer, let it be basil. You’ll be able to whip up batches of pesto to your heart’s content and homemade pesto also makes a wonderful gift for friends when you turn up to summer barbeques. You can also pair the supercouple of basil and EVOO in other dishes such as salads, marinades or slice open an avocado (also a superfood), top with basil and drizzle with EVOO for a quick snack.