Basil is an herb in the mint family. It adds flavor to meals, and its nutrients may provide health benefits.
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) plays a role in many Mediterranean, and particularly Italian, cuisines. It forms the basis of pesto and adds a distinctive flavor to salads, pasta, pizza, and other dishes. Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisines also feature this herb.
In the diet, sweet basil can provide vitamins, minerals, and a range of antioxidants. Its essential oil may also have medicinal benefits. Dry basil has a more intense flavor when it is fresh but it degrades quickly. Dried herbs are generally three to four times stronger than the fresh herb.