Top 10 Health Benefits Of Bay Leaves
The humble bay leaf comes with several health benefits. Keep stock of it in your kitchen cabinet to get rid of various ailments, such as common cold, digestive disorders and nosebleeds. Read on.
By Monali Bordoloi
Every time the weather becomes wintry, Niharika Parihar, 37, falls sick. At her mother-in-law’s advice about the benefits of bay leaves, she starts using them in her foods and drinks. She begins drinking bay leaf infused tea and including bay leaf in her curries. Soon, she notices a significant change in her immunity against common cold. Her digestion problems reduce too.
What is a bay leaf?
The bay leaf is a spice used in cooking. It's particularly common in Indian and Pakistani cuisines. It adds a wonderful aroma and flavour to the food. Apart from its culinary uses, bay leaf has medicinal properties and is known for its antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and astringent qualities. Thus, it is an immunity-boosting leaf.
10 health benefits of bay leaf
1. Helps in digestion
Bay leaves are good for treating digestive disorders like heartburn and flatulence. Drinking hot bay leaf tea is said to dispel common digestive disorders like constipation, acid reflux and irregular bowel movements. Enzymes in bay leaf enable the breakdown of proteins. For indigestion and bloating, bay leaf tea with ginger and honey twice a day proves to be beneficial. If you are recovering from illness and looking for ways to stimulate your appetite, bay leaf can act as appetite stimuli. Bay leaf is a natural diuretic as it stimulates urination, which reduces toxicity of the body.
2. Reduces congestion
As Niharika Parihar found out, bay leaf tea is effective in fighting the irritating symptoms of common cold as they it helps in clearing congestion.
3. Eases joint pain and body aches
The anti-inflammatory properties of bay leaf oil can ease the pains from sprains, strains and rheumatism. Rubbing bay leaf oil on inflamed joints in arthritis reduces the pain. It also soothes body aches. Adding bay leaf decoction to bathwater would relieve sore muscles and rejuvenate the body. Bay leaf decoction is good for headache too. To get relief from severe headache, a paste of bay leaves on the forehead can be applied.
4. Balances blood sugar level
Bay leaf has been found to be effective in treating type 2 diabetes as it improves insulin sensitivity. It also causes reduction in blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The antioxidants in bay leaf enable the body to process insulin more efficiently, which benefits diabetics and people with insulin resistance.
5. Treats nosebleed
Both kids and adults may have an episode of nosebleed due to many reasons like dry air and common cold. Sometimes kids have nosebleed due to nose-picking too. Bay leaf can be helpful in treating nosebleed. To treat nosebleed, crush two to three fresh or dry bay leaves. Boil them till the water reduces to half. Strain and drink this concoction for relief.
6. Treats respiratory conditions
Bay leaf is useful in treating many respiratory diseases. Due to its natural antibacterial quality, it can loosen up phlegm and eliminates dangerous bacteria that get trapped in respiratory tracts.
7. Prevents the occurrence of wrinkles
As bay leaf helps in de-stressing the skin, it prevents the occurrence of wrinkles and skin outbreaks. Bay leaf decoction can be used as a compress to treat skin infection. Inhaling bay leaf decoction also helps in keeping the skin supple.
Bay leaf oil when applied topically can heal insect stings and small cuts and bruises. It is used to treat snake-bite too. Due to its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, bay leaf oil can cure skin infections.
8. Induces sleep
Those suffering from a sleep disorder can try bay leaf for relief. Consuming just a few drops of bay leaf extract with water at bedtime is said to induce proper sleep.
9. Cleans scalp
Bay leaf decoction is very helpful in keeping the scalp of our head dandruff-free if used as a post-shampoo hair rinse. Oils extracted from the bay leaf are considered to be a great tonic for hair.
10. Treats menstrual problems
From olden days, bay leaf is used to treat menstrual problems like irregular periods, cramps and vaginal discharges. If the bay leaf is taken orally for some time, it induces regular and normal periods.
As the bay leaf is rich in folic acid, it is beneficial to have it during the pre-conception period (three months before and after pregnancy). These leaves can even prevent birth defects in the yet-to-be-born child.
Nutritional Value of Bay Leaf
The many health benefits of the bay leaf can be attributed to its rich nutrients. These leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium and manganese, apart from phytochemicals and essential oils.
Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) comprises estimated amounts of nutrients that a human body requires to maintain good health. Please note that the values are per 100 grams, as is the norm. However, anyone is unlikely to consume 100g of bay leaves in a day, so please keep that in mind)
Bay Leaf (Laurus Nobilis), nutritional value per 100 grams, followed by percentage of RDA
Energy: 313 Kcal (15.5% of RDA)
Carbohydrates: 74.97g (57% of RDA)
Protein: 7.61g (13% of RDA)
Total Fat: 8.36g (29% of RDA)
Cholesterol: 0g (0% of RDA)
Dietary Fiber: 26.3g (69% of the RDA)
Folates: 180mcg (45% of the RDA)
Niacin: 2.005mg (12.5% of the RDA)
Pyridoxine: 1.740mg (133% of the RDA)
Riboflavin: 0.421mg (32% of the RDA)
Vitamin A: 6185IU (206% of the RDA)
Vitamin C: 46.5mg (77.5% of the RDA)
Sodium: 23mg (1.5% of the RDA)
Potassium 529mg (11% of the RDA)
Calcium: 834mg (83% of the RDA)
Copper: 0.416mg (46% of the RDA)
Iron: 43mg (537% of the RDA)
Magnesium: 120mg (30% of the RDA)
Manganese: 8.167mg (355% of the RDA)
Phosphorus: 113mg (16% of the RDA)
Selenium: 2.8mcg (5% of the RDA)
Zinc: 3.70mg (33% of the RDA)
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database
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