The Many benefits of Pesto Sauce
The first thing that comes to our mind when we say the word pesto is Italian cuisine. Bags and bags of flavours packing a punch on a hearty plate with a portion, the size of Mt. Everest.
Considered one of the healthiest cuisine in the world, Italian food is known for its delicious artisanal breads, a 100 varieties of pasta and those gorgeous, colorful sauces. Some of them look too similar, and we can confuse them of being the same, that is until you dip one of those delicious artisanal breads into them. At the heart of these lie complicated flavours, and if you dig deep you will find every ingredient shines beautifully on your palette.
One such sauce that comes from the heart of Italian cuisine is the pesto sauce. Originating form Genoa, Italy, this beautiful green sauce consists of very simple, very basic ingredients. It is known to be by far, one of the healthiest sauces ever made. With all the herbs and basil, pesto is one sauce that, if used in everyday cooking can render your body healthy.
How it’s made: A traditional pesto sauce constitutes crushed garlic, pine nuts, basil (which lends it its beautiful colour) Parmesan cheese and of course salt; all of which have time and again proven to be healthy items to be consumed. All these ingredients are taken together in a mortar and a pestle and crushed together to make a fine paste. They are then dissolved in abundant olive oil and made more liquid by adding a little hot water.
Pesto sauce on the whole is known to have a number of health benefits to say the very least. It is an all-rounder of sorts in that it is loaded with proteins, vitamins, minerals and the best part is the fat content of the pesto sauce is good fat. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Basil is the core ingredient: Basil is popularly known as the world’s healthiest ingredient. Such are the effects of consuming basil that it is known to rid you of any or all kinds of day to day health issues. Whether it is bad cold or an upset stomach, basil is an Indian herb that is used to cure man of many of his illnesses. It is also a prominent ingredient in many medically prescribed drugs. Apart from that, basil is loaded with several beneficial vitamins and minerals, and contains very less calories and zero cholesterol.
Proteins are very important for our day to day health: Since time immemorial, we have been told that proteins are very integral to our diet. Even people who are watching their weight are advised not to ditch their proteins. The pine nuts in the pesto sauce are very rich in proteins, which aid in body development and muscle building. Pine nuts also are an excellent source of essential fatty acids.
Pesto makes your heart strong: Pesto is also considered nutritious; a study says that the regions of the Mediterranean belt use pesto in their everyday life because it is known for its heart enhancing benefits. As we mentioned above, the fat in the pesto is mostly unsaturated which supports the health of your heart. So much so that unsaturated fat is replaced with saturated fat in our day to day lives, we may experience an improvement in our cholesterol levels.
Pregnant ladies rejoice: Pesto has also proven to show great health benefits for pregnant women. Expectant mothers are expected to eat a very healthy diet. During the course of the pregnancy they experience a whole range of colorful side-effects ranging from morning sickness to being put off by the smell of meat, to experiencing pain in various parts of their bodies. Stomach upsets are a regular side-effect, and the basil in the pesto helps cure them. Also, since the sauce is low in calories, it helps prevent obesity during pregnancy. Besides, it also helps strengthen your bones and joints which is absolutely essential during pregnancies.
Pesto does wonders for the seniors A moderate amount of pesto is recommended in all diets, especially of the elderly people. When consumed in moderation, pesto, not only improves one’s cholesterol levels, but also aids in decreasing inflammation in the body, which is very important because inflammation is associated with higher risks of heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and many other conditions associated with old age.
So what quantity of pesto should I consume
Too much of anything is not good. At one point, no matter how much you love something, you will either get tired off it or it will have adverse effects on your health. While it is absolutely true that pesto is a very healthy sauce, one can only be too cautious. Therefore, we recommend you consider the portion of pesto you use in your day to day meals.
While it is loaded with nutrients; the standard recommended portion of consuming pesto should not exceed ¼ cup or about 4 tablespoons. This portion ideally contains about 15% of the daily value of Vitamin A, 6% of Vitamin C, 20% calcium and 4% iron. You also get about 6gms of protein from every serving of pesto. And of course, the basil, which is ideally the base of the pesto, contain flavonoids and other compounds that support the structure of our cells and help fight diseases.
Keep in mind however, that though pine nuts are high in proteins they are also high in calories and as we all know way too well, calories can add up too quickly while we are not looking. Olive oil and parmesan add to the calorie density of the pesto sauce.
Pesto is such a versatile sauce; it goes with almost everything. Because it is loaded with flavours, you can just add a tablespoon to your regular meals. Add a tbsp. of pesto to non-fat Greek yoghurt to make a delectable dip. A generous amount of pesto with some prawns makes a hell of a pizza or you could just add it to chunks of boneless chicken to make a mean panini. Stir a spoonful of pesto sauce in your tomato sauce to give it both flavor and richness, or just make a good old penne pesto pasta, and you are sorted.
So the next time you binge on pesto, you can do so without feeling guilty. You know now that it does more good to your body than harm. Go ahead and enjoy your pesto with all your heart. Here’s to bringing back pesto in your day-to-day life. Bon Appetit!
All these ingredients are taken together and ground up in a mortar and pestle. At the very least, this is how pesto was prepared traditionally