Pesto is a food that you may have already seen if you have ever visited an Italian restaurant. Most commonly used in Mediterranean kitchens, pesto can also be found today in pizzerias on pies, in the sauce, and even as a topping for garlic bread. However, that’s not the only place you can find this palate pleasing spread! Dr. Gundry also fell in love with pesto, and now you can try his version of this traditional favorite right at home with his secret Basil Pesto Recipe.
The reason Dr. Gundry includes pesto in oh-so many of his Plant Paradox-Approved recipes is clear – pesto is a superfood! As a staple in the Mediterranean diet, there are 2 major reasons to eat pesto. First of all, it is hands down one of the most delicious foods on Earth, with an aroma that’s almost as appealing as its flavor. Secondly, Dr. Gundry’s pesto is a combination of 3 superfoods used for centuries to boost health: basil, extra virgin olive oil, and pine nuts.
What’s Inside Dr. Gundry’s Basil Pesto Recipe
Don’t let the simple 3-ingredients of Dr. Gundry’s recipe for Basil Pesto fool you! Each one is known to offer a powerful nutritional punch in this superfood recipe:
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)–Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a rich cooking oil that is loved for its nutty, buttery flavor. But it also offers one of the best sources of antioxidants, essential vitamins, and minerals including vitamin E and K, along with iron, sodium, calcium, and potassium. Not only that, but EVOO also offers a sizeable dose of good-for-you fats including some very important essential fatty acids like that of omega-6 and omega-3.1 In one study, the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids was linked to anti-inflammatory effects that supported a reduction of risk factors associated with coronary artery problems, joint pain, and high blood pressure.2
In addition to that, EVOO contains loads of a specific type of protective compound known as polyphenol antioxidants. One specific type includes an antioxidant known as oleocanthal – known to offer potent anti-inflammatory effects.3 And to top it all off, EVOO is also an ideal cooking oil for a heart-healthy diet! Numerous studies confirm the benefits of adding this oil to your everyday menu to boost cardiovascular health and reduce risk factors for CVD as you age.4 As a significant source of a rare essential fatty acid known as omega-9 or oleic acid, EVOO has been shown to help regulate blood pressure.5
2. Basil.This common backyard herb is also one of the most traditional medicines on the planet. Today, you can findthat this member of the mint family has almost 150 different relatives (of just basil alone!). Bursting with good-for-you nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, iron, potassium, and calcium, basil is a hearty component of this recipe for good reason!6
Basil offers these health benefits (just to name a few):
- Anti-Microbial. Basil isn’t just tasty inside your mouth. It can also be used inside your belly to kill off harmful species of bacteria. In one study, basil oil was shown to reduce bacteria in food significantly – after just 2 days!7
- Antioxidant. Oxidation is a natural process that can occur inside the body for a number of reasons. Usually, it is due to the development of what are known as ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) – molecules that roam throughout your body looking to “steal” an electron from healthy tissues in order to regain stability, as they are missing one electron themselves. In doing this, ROS species can damage healthy cells and, over time, may even harm organs and contribute to risk factors for serious health problems like CVD.8
One specific type of basil, also known as Holy Basil, or Tulsi has been shown in clinical trials to help stop this reaction of ROS molecules by freely “donating” the missing electron to ROS species, thus preventing them from stealing from your healthy tissues. This antioxidant action may help to reduce the risk of developing degenerative health problems including age-related vision loss, joint pain, neurodegeneration, and CVD.9
- Anti-Inflammatory. One strain of basil known as purple basil or Ocimum basilicum L., has been shown in clinical trials to offer potent, powerful antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects due to its high anthocyanin content.10
- Heart Healthy. In addition to that, the large amount of magnesium found inside basil has been associated with a healthy heart. One study confirmed that this nutrient is needed to regulate blood pressure as well as muscle contractions. This can help to better maintain healthy cardiovascular function.11
- Mood Booster. Many people reach for a sugary soda for a mid-day energy boost – but you don’t have to! Reach for Dr. Gundry’s recipe instead. Studies have shown that the potent phyto-chemicals found inside basil are also able to boost your good mood!12
3. Pine Nuts.You can make a basil pesto without adding nuts, but for that satisfying crunch that most people expect from pesto, just add pine nuts! You may choose to use another type of nut here like almonds or walnuts. However, pine nuts have recently been shown to offer potent anti-inflammatory effects. So, try out their sweet yet earthy and nutty flavor in Dr. Gundry’s basil pesto recipe.
Dr. Gundry is one of the world’s preeminent experts in heart surgery and has devoted his life to improving human health and longevity. He’s well-known for his work with the plant protein called lectin, and his innovative line of supplements, notably Lectin Shield. Listen to this interview from Ben Greenfield Fitness to learn more about lectins and what Lectin Shield does.
Related: Lectin Shield–Where to Buy It
Here is the simple way you can make Plant Paradox-Approved basil pesto at home!
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed
- ½ cup freshly grated real parmesan cheese
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled, and rinsed
- Sea salt, to taste
To make Dr. Gundry’s Plant Paradox-Approved pesto, gather all of the ingredients. Rinse the basil leaves and, if you want to, add a squeeze of lemon juice for extra cleansing and flavor. Then toss all of the ingredients into a strong blender. Gently pulse the basil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil in the blender until it is well combined.
Then, take the lid off and look at the pesto. Think about what you will be using the pesto for and then decide how much more EVOO you want to drizzle into the blender. This will determine how smooth the pesto is. Then go ahead and either pulse the blender again or set it on LOW for a few seconds until you gain the desired consistency.
And that’s it! You’re done. You see, making a superfood dip developed by Dr. Gundry is really THAT easy. So, start taking the first steps towards better health today by adding this simple 3-ingredient pesto recipe to your menu. You’ve got nothing to lose and the options are endless with pesto. Top salads, add it to smoothies or juices, freeze it inside ice cube trays for later…the ways to use pesto go on and on. Enjoy!
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil Nutrition facts & Calories. SELF Nutrition Data.com.
- Wardhana,Surachmanto ES. The role of omega-3 fatty acids contained in olive oil on chronic inflammation. Acta Med Indones. 2011 Apr;43(2):138-43.
- Puertollano MA. Olive oil, immune system and infection.NutrHosp. 2010 Jan-Feb;25(1):1-8.
- MartaGuasch-Ferré, Frank B Hu. Olive oil intake and risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality in the PREDIMED Study. BMC Med. 2014; 12: 78.
- Alonso A, Ruiz-Gutierrez V. Monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil and blood pressure: epidemiological, clinical and experimental evidence. Public HealthNutr. 2006 Apr;9(2):251-7.
- Basil. Nutrition facts & Calories. SELF Nutrition Data.com.
- Lien Ai Pham-Huy, Hua He. Free Radicals, Antioxidants in Disease and Health.Int J Biomed Sci. 2008 Jun; 4(2): 89–96.
- Marc Maurice Cohen. Tulsi -Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014 Oct-Dec; 5(4): 251–259.
- SzymanowskaU, Złotek U. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidative activity of anthocyanins from purple basil leaves induced by selected abiotic elicitors. Food Chem. 2015 Apr 1;172:71-7.
- UweGröber, Joachim Schmidt. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015 Sep; 7(9): 8199–8226.
- Marc Maurice Cohen. Tulsi -Ocimumsanctum: A herb for all reasons. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014 Oct-Dec; 5(4): 251–259.
- KayinXiea, Elizabeth A. Miles. A review of the potential health benefits of pine nut oil and its characteristic fatty acid pinolenic acid.