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Basil vs Oregano - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Basil
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Oregano

Introduction

In this article, you can find a detailed description of the differences between basil and oregano. They are extremely used in the kitchen. The article will be focused on their nutrition and impact on health. Both are natural sources of micronutrients, certain minerals, and vitamins. 

Varieties

Basil belongs to the family Lamiaceae. There are more than 40 known varieties of basil. The most common and used ones are Sweet Basil, Lemon Basil, and Holy Basil. In general, plants can reach heights of 30-50 cm.  Oregano belongs to the Mint family. It is a flowering plant and is native to Western and Southwestern Eurasia. Plants can reach heights 20-80 cm. The most common oregano types are Syrian Oregano, Greek Oregano, and Common Oregano [1] [2].

Uses

Oregano is a culinary herb, used for the flavor, it is more flavorful when dried than fresh. The taste is aromatic and slightly bitter. It has popularity in Italian and American cuisine. Oregano is used with meat, fish, and vegetables. Basil is usually used fresh. It is minty and peppery. The dried basil may lose most of its flavor. It is used mostly in pesto and tomato sauce marinara. In some medical practices, basil is known for its therapeutic properties [1] [2].

Nutrition

Basil and oregano have a wide nutritional profile. Our page contains various charts and infographics that visualize their nutrition. Please scroll down the page to check them out. 

Micronutrients

Overall, oregano is richer in micronutrients than basil. It contains more carbs, protein, and fiber. Oregano has more fats. On the other hand, basil has fewer sugars. Both contain no cholesterol [3].

Calories

In general, oregano contains more calories, than basil. The level of calories in oregano is 11 times higher in oregano. Each oregano has about 265 calories per 100 g, whereas each basil has 23 calories per 100 g.

Minerals

Oregano is relatively richer in Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Zinc, and Copper. The amounts of Magnesium and Copper are 2 times higher in oregano. On the other hand, basil has a lower level of Sodium [4].

Vitamins

The vitamin content of oregano is relatively higher. Oregano contains 30 times more Vitamin E, 4 times more Vitamin B1, 5 times more Vitamin B2 than basil. The amount of Vitamin K, Vitamin B3, and Vitamin B5 and Folate are also higher in oregano. On the other hand, basil contains more Vitamin C and Vitamin A. The amount of this Vitamin C is 6 times higher in basil than in oregano. Both contain no Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B9, and Vitamin D [5] [6].

Potassium

Potassium is an important mineral, which may help to normalize water balance and blood pressure in the body.  Overall, oregano contains more potassium than basil. Oregano has 1260 mg potassium per 100 g, while basil has 295mg per 100g [4].

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is the ranking of carbohydrates in the food that may promote better blood sugar management. The estimated glycemic index of oregano is 14 times lower; it is about 5, whereas the glycemic index of basil is about 70.

Health Benefits

Cancer

Basil contains strong antioxidants, such as lutein, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. These antioxidants have many health benefits, in particular, they may help to reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including lung cancer, liver cancer, oral cancer, and skin cancer [7]. 

Oregano is also high in antioxidants, such as carvacrol and thymol, which may help to fight damage from free radicals in the human body, and help to stop the growth of cancer cells [8].  

Cardiovascular Health

Basil contains eugenol, which may block calcium channels, and reduce high blood pressure. According to one study, after a few minutes of using eugenol extract, the blood pressure returned to its high levels. Basil also contains essential oils, which may help to lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Moreover, this herb also contains magnesium, which may improve blood flow by allowing muscles and blood vessels to relax [9]. 

Diabetes 

One study found that an extract from basil helped reduce high blood sugar levels. In particular, extract from sweet basil may help to treat the long-term effects of high blood sugar [10]. 

According to one in vitro study, the extract from basil leaves helps to manage the inhibition of a-glucosidase and pancreatic a-amylase enzymes, as a result, it may help to treat type 2 diabetes [11].

Gut Health

According to one study, oregano has properties, such as essential oil, that may reduce the number of E.coli bacteria in the gut, moreover, essential oil protects the gut wall from damage [12]. One study showed that people who had gut symptoms such as diarrhea and pain, after 6 weeks of treatment by oregano extract, experienced a reduction in parasites, and 77% were cured [13].

Anti-inflammation 

Researches suggest that oregano may reduce inflammation. This herb contains essential oil and carvacrol, which according to a mouse study, reduced inflammation in those mouses that had colitis. However, human studies are needed. 

Basil also contains essential oils, such as eugenol, linalool, and citronellol that can help to fight inflammation. Moreover, researches show that the essential oil of basil may help treat various diseases that involve inflammation resulting from oxidative stress [14]. 

Improving Hair  and Skin Health

Basil and oregano are rich in antioxidants and minerals, which have beneficial health properties. Oregano is rich in zinc, which is an essential mineral for human health. This mineral may help to promote the formation of collagen to make hair healthy growth [15].  

Basil antioxidants have a strong impact on reducing free radicals, thus can decrease oxidative stress and keep your skin healthy․ According to the study, including basil extract in skin creams may improve skin hydration and reduce wrinkling [16].

Weight loss

The calories level of oregano is almost 10 times higher than in basil. In the case of low calories diets, basil is a good choice. Basil also is good if you are in low fats or low carbs diets, such as the Keto diet, or Dukan diet. At the same time let’s not forget that people usually consume spices in little quantities, so calories will not matter so much.   

The glycemic index of oregano is lower, so it can be chosen in the case of low glycemic index diets. However, basil can spice up your meals but not contribute significant nutrients to your diet. During diets, use it with other nutritious foods [17]. 

Mental Health

Basil leaves contain properties that may help to alleviate stress, depression, and anxiety, increase the ability to think, improve stress-related sleep, and lower the risk of age-related memory loss. The study showed that using 500 mg of basil extract daily may lower the levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. Besides, people who used it daily felt more social [18]. 

Side Effects

Basil is high in vitamin K, which may help blood clots. High intakes of this vitamin can interfere with blood-thinning drugs, such as warfarin [19].

Try to avoid holy basil if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. According to studies, holy basil may negatively affect sperm and trigger contractions in pregnancy [20]. 

Allergy

The allergy to basil is the result of our immune system mistakenly identifying basil as a harmful invader. Basil allergy symptoms usually include tingling or itching in the mouth, runny nose, and itchy eyes, rarely diarrhea. Oregano allergy symptoms mostly include rash, rarely stomach distress, or trouble breathing.  Some people may be allergic to oregano oil. In this case, using oregano may cause inflammation of the airways and might quickly become dangerous [21].

Summary

Overall, oregano contains more vitamins, minerals, and protein than basil. Oregano contains 30 times more Vitamin E and 12 times more iron than basil. On the other hand, basil is lower in sugars, calories, sodium and has higher levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. 

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780857090393500049
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jsfa.2740330508
  3. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/70/3/491s/4714940?login=true
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0260877404003875
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0968089619311368
  6. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1017/S0043933918000454
  7. https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ncnu02/pdf/juliani.pdf
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24629960/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210006/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6542390/
  11. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0748233711403193
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10815019/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4903144/
  14. https://www.koreascience.or.kr/article/JAKO201713647762249.page
  15. http://bergenhelse.no/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/A-potential-medicinal-importance-of-zinc-in-human-health-and-chronic-disease.pdf
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3304398/
  17. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398.2013.805713
  18. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284800393_A_clinical_study_on_the_management_of_generalized_anxiety_disorder_with_Vaca_Acorus_calamus
  19. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-HealthProfessional/
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2844661/
  21. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1081120611004686
Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Profession: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: April 4, 2021

Infographic

Basil vs Oregano infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Basil
1
:
Contains less Sodium -84%
Contains more Iron +1060.9%
Contains more Calcium +802.3%
Contains more Potassium +327.1%
Contains more Magnesium +321.9%
Contains more Copper +64.4%
Contains more Zinc +232.1%
Contains more Phosphorus +164.3%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 119% 54% 27% 46% 129% 23% 24% 1%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 1380% 480% 112% 193% 212% 74% 64% 4%
Contains less Sodium -84%
Contains more Iron +1060.9%
Contains more Calcium +802.3%
Contains more Potassium +327.1%
Contains more Magnesium +321.9%
Contains more Copper +64.4%
Contains more Zinc +232.1%
Contains more Phosphorus +164.3%

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Basil
2
:
Contains more Vitamin C +682.6%
Contains more Vitamin A +210.1%
Contains more Vitamin E +2182.5%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +420.6%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +594.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +414.4%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +340.7%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +573.5%
Contains more Vitamin K +49.9%
Contains more Folate +248.5%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 60% 317% 16% 0% 9% 18% 17% 13% 36% 0% 1037% 51%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 8% 103% 366% 0% 45% 122% 87% 56% 241% 0% 1555% 178%
Contains more Vitamin C +682.6%
Contains more Vitamin A +210.1%
Contains more Vitamin E +2182.5%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +420.6%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +594.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +414.4%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +340.7%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +573.5%
Contains more Vitamin K +49.9%
Contains more Folate +248.5%

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
131
Basil
230
Oregano
Mineral Summary Score
52
Basil
314
Oregano

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
19%
Basil
54%
Oregano
Carbohydrates
3%
Basil
69%
Oregano
Fats
3%
Basil
20%
Oregano

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Basil Oregano
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Basil Oregano
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

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Comparison summary

Which food is richer in minerals?
Oregano
Oregano is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Oregano
Oregano is lower in glycemic index (difference - 65)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Oregano
Oregano is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Basil
Basil is lower in Sugar (difference - 3.79g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Basil
Basil contains less Sodium (difference - 21mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Basil
Basil is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 1.51g)
Which food is cheaper?
Basil
Basil is cheaper (difference - $1.8)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Basil Oregano Opinion
Calories 23 265 Oregano
Protein 3.15 9 Oregano
Fats 0.64 4.28 Oregano
Vitamin C 18 2.3 Basil
Carbs 2.65 68.92 Oregano
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 3.17 36.8 Oregano
Calcium 177 1597 Oregano
Potassium 295 1260 Oregano
Magnesium 64 270 Oregano
Sugar 0.3 4.09 Basil
Fiber 1.6 42.5 Oregano
Copper 0.385 0.633 Oregano
Zinc 0.81 2.69 Oregano
Starch
Phosphorus 56 148 Oregano
Sodium 4 25 Basil
Vitamin A 5275 1701 Basil
Vitamin E 0.8 18.26 Oregano
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.034 0.177 Oregano
Vitamin B2 0.076 0.528 Oregano
Vitamin B3 0.902 4.64 Oregano
Vitamin B5 0.209 0.921 Oregano
Vitamin B6 0.155 1.044 Oregano
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 414.8 621.7 Oregano
Folate 68 237 Oregano
Trans Fat 0 0
Saturated Fat 0.041 1.551 Basil
Monounsaturated Fat 0.088 0.716 Oregano
Polyunsaturated fat 0.389 1.369 Oregano
Tryptophan 0.039 0.203 Oregano
Threonine 0.104 0.322 Oregano
Isoleucine 0.104 0.441 Oregano
Leucine 0.191 0.78 Oregano
Lysine 0.11 0.5 Oregano
Methionine 0.036 0.127 Oregano
Phenylalanine 0.13 0.449 Oregano
Valine 0.127 0.585 Oregano
Histidine 0.051 0.144 Oregano
Fructose 0.02 1.13 Oregano

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Basil - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172232/nutrients
  2. Oregano - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171328/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.