Pesto Sauce — Good Gut Feelings (2024)


If you’re looking for pure freshness in a jar, nothing beats homemade pesto sauce. Everything about it screams “green”: the smell, the colour - it even tastes green! And it’s one of the simplest things you can make, all you need is a blender.

While pesto may more traditionally be associated with summer months and warmer weather, its ingredients actually make it wonderful for supporting the immune system, and what better time for that than now, what with it being flu season in the middle of a pandemic!

Not just for pasta, pesto is a great way to liven up winter veggies, salads and meat dishes. A little goes a long way as this sauce really packs a flavourful punch so one jar will last you a while and is a great little something extra to have on hand. Just store in an airtight container in your fridge and you only need to pop the lid for a burst of flavour in your food.



A member of the mint family, basil is rich in nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin K, potassium and magnesium.

It has strong anti-inflammatory properties, and one component of its natural volatile oils (called eugenol) actually inhibits the very same enzyme in the body as many non-steriodal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

Basil also has anti-bacterial properties, and its flavonoids have an antioxidant action in the body, offering protection at the cellular level, thus guarding against damage from free radicals.

Pine nuts

As their name suggests, pine nuts come from pine trees, and are in fact seeds, not nuts. Chewy yet somehow buttery in texture and taste, they are an excellent source of manganese and phosphorus, and a very good source of zinc, magnesium and Vitamin E. They are also rich in healthy monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid. By providing a good balance of protein, fats, and fibre, pine nuts are also good for keeping blood sugar levels stable.

The combination of fibre and antioxidants in pine nuts makes them a gut-healthy choice too. Indeed, there has even been a study to suggest that there is a positive relationship between the consumption of certain nuts - including pine nuts - and reduced rates of colon cancer.

If you have the time, gently toasting the nuts in the oven before making the pesto will enhance the flavour even further.


Aside from being an immune-boosting superstar, at the end of the day, what is pesto without garlic?! I have used 2 cloves here, but if you like things super garlicky, then add another.

Olive oil (EVOO)

A Mediterranean Diet staple, cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the mother of all olive oils, and definitely what you should be opting for when eating for health. Rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, it is well-established as a superfood and a key component to a healthy diet.

Olive oil also contains oleic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties and may even have positive effects on certain genes that have been linked to cancer.

You really do want to go with EVOO, rather than a cheaper, more refined variety of olive oil, as it retains the olives’ antioxidants and bioactive compounds. Cold-pressed is important too, as it means the good stuff won’t have been destroyed by heat. Make sure to check product labels before you buy, to ensure what you’re getting really is pure extra virgin olive oil, as many that make the EVOO claim are actually diluted with other refined oils, so it’s always a good idea to check the ingredients.


Salt and pepper


Make it vegan and Paleo?

You can easily make pesto to suit both vegan and Paleo diets, by leaving out the parmesan and instead adding 3/4 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes and 2 Tbsp lemon juice.

Make it AIP-compliant?

Make the above vegan/Paleo adjustment, leave out the pine nuts, and add in another cup of basil, or even spinach, to make up the bulk of the sauce.

Mix it up!

For an extra nutritional boost, you can swap out half the portion of basil leaves for spinach. You could also try changing the traditional pine nuts and using walnuts or pumpkin seeds instead.


There is no end to pesto’s versatility, but here are just some of the ways you can enjoy it:

  • Stirred through pasta

  • Added to roasted vegetables

  • As an accompaniment to Turmeric Chicken

  • On a salad

  • On homemade pizza

  • Drizzled over an omelette or scrambled eggs

Pesto Sauce — Good Gut Feelings (2024)


Is pesto good for the gut? ›

Studies on Pesto and Digestive Health

However, studies on the individual ingredients of pesto, such as basil and garlic, suggest potential benefits for digestive health. For example, basil has been found to possess anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that may help alleviate symptoms associated with IBS.

Is pesto good for an upset stomach? ›

Pesto: Make a double batch of pesto and freeze half for an easy meal at a later date. Mint has long been a remedy for queasiness. The active ingredient in mint, menthol, may help to relax gastric muscles, reducing nausea.

Is pesto good for IBS? ›

Aside from nuts, oil, and cheese, other ingredients in pesto may also trigger IBS symptoms in some individuals. For example, garlic and basil, which are commonly used in pesto, are known to be high in FODMAPs, which are types of carbohydrates that can be difficult to digest for some people with IBS.

Is pesto good for inflammation? ›

It has strong anti-inflammatory properties, and one component of its natural volatile oils (called eugenol) actually inhibits the very same enzyme in the body as many non-steriodal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

Is pesto good for the colon? ›

Furthermore, the inclusion of extra virgin olive oil in Pesto can aid in the lubrication of the digestive system and the promotion of regular bowel movements. You can potentially improve your digestive health and create a balanced gut microbiota by including Pesto in your diet.

Is pesto good for stomach acid? ›

The NHS doesn't name pesto as a cause of heartburn, acid reflux, or gastritis, but it does state that fatty foods can trigger symptoms in some patients. For this reason, we recommend keeping a diary of when you eat pesto and noting whether any symptoms follow.

What are the disadvantages of pesto? ›

CONS: Oil. Salt. Strong flavor can overpower more delicate flavors in foods.

What food makes your stomach feel better? ›

Foods and drinks like bananas, white rice, toast, crackers, and broth are gentle on your digestive system and can help you recover from an upset stomach. It's best to avoid foods and drinks that are difficult to digest and may worsen GI symptoms.

Is pesto good for anxiety? ›

The arugula pesto is amazing… BUT, feel free to substitute the arugula pesto for one of the basil ones mentioned above, and you'll really be upping the anxiety reducing properties of your food.

Is basil pesto good for constipation? ›

Basil is commonly used for stomach problems such as spasms, loss of appetite, intestinal gas, diarrhea, constipation, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

What is the safest food for IBS? ›

The Best Foods for IBS
  1. Salmon. Sarah Schlichter, M.P.H., RDN, a registered dietitian at Bucket List Tummy, tells EatingWell, “Salmon and other fatty fish are high in unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. ...
  2. Bell Peppers. ...
  3. Lean Meat. ...
  4. Avocado. ...
  5. Eggs. ...
  6. Sweet Potatoes. ...
  7. Spinach. ...
  8. Kiwi.
Nov 10, 2023

What pasta sauce is good for IBS? ›

Tomato-based sauces, such as marinara or tomato puree, can be a great option for IBS sufferers. Make sure to choose sauces that do not contain high-FODMAP ingredients like garlic or onion.

Is it OK to eat pesto everyday? ›

You'll want to be mindful of the sodium content. Some jars have more than 500mg per serving and the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines recommend you eat no more than 2,300mg per day. It would be hard to stay within those guidelines if you get more than 20% of your sodium from pesto.

Is pesto healthier than tomato? ›

As you would expect, pesto's wider variety of ingredients means it does slightly better in the vitamin and mineral stakes. Pesto outsmarts tomato sauce in many of these, but the pasta sauce still provides a sizeable chunk of your recommended daily targets.

What is the number one food to fight inflammation? ›

1. Avocados. Avocados are often sought after for their creamy texture and satiating taste. But they are also powerhouses when it comes to fighting inflammation.

Does pesto have any health benefits? ›

Because its ingredients include olive oil, nuts, and cheese, pesto can be high in calories and fat. However, the fat is primarily unsaturated and may have heart health benefits. Pesto is also full of antioxidants that can help protect your cells from damage.

What are the disadvantages of pesto pasta? ›

2 Potential Downsides

First, since traditional pesto contains nuts, someone with a nut allergy must avoid traditionally prepared recipes. Luckily, there's an easy workaround using recipes without nuts. Second, store-bought pesto may or may not contain extras you may not want to eat.

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