The benefits of giving certain seeds, nuts, oats, and legumes a good soak has long been advocated by healthy food experts. Doing so increases the nutrient value because it reduces the amount of phytic acid (which can interfere with the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium, and other minerals). While you may already be submerging your oats and chia seeds in water, recently, Food52 recommended something else to add to your soaking list: basil seeds.
They claim the Ayurvedic super seed can help with digestive issues, calming a queasy stomach and also nixing constipation because it’s full of fiber. So, what does science say? Are they on to something? It turns out, it’s totally a Thing. One study found that eating basil seeds soaked in water before lunch and dinner every day for 16 weeks was linked to healthy weight loss. Several years later, another study had similar results. (Fiber: It’s a miracle worker.)
As for those digestion claims, there is anecdotal evidence to support them, according to the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau, but it hasn’t been studied enough for there to be any definitive conclusions. “It’s believed to act as a carminative, relieving intestinal gas, and as a mild diuretic, though these actions have yet to be definitively proven,” their site reads.
Researchers at the University of Michigan cite several Eastern studies saying that eating soaked basil seeds does, in fact, help on the constipation front as well as with indigestion and heartburn. Their pro tip: Put two teaspoons in two cups of hot water and sip it as a tea. “Basil has been a culinary herb in Europe and Central Asia since before the written word,” they report. “In India the seeds were used for diarrhea, mucous discharges, constipation, and as a general [soothing agent], the leaves were used for indigestion and skin diseases. In traditional Thai herbalism, the plant is used for coughs, skin diseases, and intestinal problems.”
So if you’re looking for a new go-to tummy tamer, it could be worth a shot.
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