Bay leaves are the leaves known for their medicinal properties. They protect our body against oxidative stress and provide benefits like managing diabetes, improving cardiovascular health, reducing inflammation, reducing respiratory problems, and optimizing digestion.
What are Bay Leaves?
Many types of plant leaves are referred to as “bay leaves”, but the true bay leaf is scientifically known as Laurus nobilis.. Many other leaves with a similar appearance and aroma like true bay leaves exist, but they doesn’t have the same nutrient content. Bay leaf plant is a small tree native to the Mediterranean region.Bay leaves provide many health benefits, and have been part of culinary and medicinal words since Roman times.
How to Use Bay Leaves?
Bay leaves are generally added in their whole form as a flavoring for certain Italian or Indian dishes. When used as a whole leaf, they are often removed from dish prior to consuming or used as a garnish.
Bay leaves can be grinded to powder form and added to soups and stews to enhance the flavor.
Bay leaves are used in aromatherapy and herbal treatment for various skin and respiratory conditions.
Health Benefits of Bay Leaves
Some major health benefits of bay leaves are as follows.
(1) Improves Digestive Health
Bay leaves are good for stomach and improves our digestive system.
Vitamin C, vitamin A, and other antioxidant compounds in bay leaves protects our digestive system from free radical damage.
It reduces the risk of several cancers such as colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, abdominal cancer, and intestinal cancer, etc.
Dietary fibers in bay laves are natural laxative that improve bowel movement, relieve constipation, and other digestive problems like abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and flatulence, etc.
The antimicrobial properties of bay leaves protects our digestive system from bacterial and fungal infections, and reduces the risk of stomach ulcers.
It is also effective against diarrhea as dietary fiber absorbs excess fluid from the intestines, and its antibacterial properties reduce the risk of bacterial infections.
Other nutrients like zinc, potassium, magnesium iron, etc in bay leaves also contribute to healthy digestion.
(2) Provides Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Bay leaves contain several anti-inflammatory compounds like vitamin C, vitamin A, parthenolide, and dietary fibers, etc.
These compounds provide relief from the pain and inflammation caused by inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, rheumatoid, gouts, asthma, and bronchial asthma.
Consuming bay leaves as well as topical application of bay leaves extract helps relieve pain and inflammation of the sore joints or areas affected by arthritis.
(3) Improves Respiratory Health
Bay leaves improve our respiratory health due to the abundance of essential nutrients in them.
Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, and other antioxidant compounds like tannins, etc in bay leaves protect our respiratory system from free radical damage.
The anti-inflammatory compounds like vitamin C, vitamin A, and dietary fibers in bay leaves reduce lung inflammation and protects against asthma and bronchial asthma.
Bay leaves essential oil is often used in aromatherapy for loosening up phlegm and eliminating dangerous pathogens trapped in the respiratory tract.
(4) Helps In Managing Cholesterol
Bay leaves help in managing cholesterol levels as they contain dietary fibers that reduce LDL cholesterol.
Vitamin C and other antioxidants in bay leaves reduce cholesterol oxidation and help in cholesterol management.
This prevents the accumulation of plaque and fat deposits in the arterial walls and reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, a leading cause of several cardiovascular problems.
(5) Regulates High Blood Pressure
Bay leaves contain potassium, a natural vasodilator that relaxes blood vessels improves blood circulation, and provides relief from hypertension or high blood pressure.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common health condition that affects millions around the world and is a leading cause of cardiovascular and other health problems.
If you take blood pressure medication, consult your doctor before adding bay leaves to your food items to ensure there is no food-drug interference risk.
Too much potassium may drop our blood pressure below the healthy range, and cause tiredness, numbness, nausea or vomiting, trouble breathing, chest pain, palpitation or irregular heartbeat, and pale skin, etc.
(6) Improves Cardiovascular Health
Bay leaves improve our cardiovascular health as they contain antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, and other relevant compounds that protect our cardiovascular system from free radical damage.
Dietary fibers in bay leaves help in cholesterol management and improve cardiovascular health.
Bay leaves contain potassium that provides relief from hypertension and reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Caffeic acid and rutin in the bay leaves also play an important role in enhancing our heart health.
Other nutrients like zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins, etc in bay leaves also play an important role in improving our cardiovascular health.
(7) Reduce Anxiety & Stress
Unmanaged stress may harm our physical, mental, and emotional health.
It is important to keep stress under control, and bay leaves can help in doing the same.
Linalool, a noncyclic monoterpenoid present in the bay leaves reduces stress hormones in the body and is used in aromatherapy.
Antioxidants like vitamin C, and other relevant compounds like tannins, etc in bay leaves protect our cells from oxidative stress.
B vitamins and magnesium in bay leaves calm our nerves, and reduce stress and anxiety.
(8) Regulates Blood Sugar
Because of its low glycemic index, bay leaves release sugar into the bloodstream at a slow pace.
This prevents a sudden spike in blood sugar levels and helps in managing diabetes.
Bay leaves increase HDL cholesterol levels in people with type-2 diabetes, and improve their health.
If you take diabetic medication, add bay leaves to your food only after consulting with your doctor to ensure there is no food-drug interference risk.
Taking bay leaves while being on sedative medicines may cause too much sleepiness.
(9) Promotes Weight Loss
Bay leaves promote weight loss as it improves our metabolism, and accelerate the rate at which our body burns stored fats.
Dietary fibers in bay leaves provide stomach satiety and control overeating, a major cause of obesity.
Although they are high in calories ( 314 calories per 100 grams) but it is not much of a concern as they are a spice and are only added to food items in a minuscule amount.
Dietary fibers in bay leaves improve digestion, promote toxins elimination, and contribute to weight loss.
(10) Protection Against Cancer(s)
Bay leaves are an abundant source of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin A, and other antioxidant compounds like tannins, and flavonoids, etc.
These compounds protect our cells from free radical damage and reduce the risk of several cancers such as colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, abdominal cancer, lung cancer, and intestinal cancer, etc.
Free radicals are unstabilized ions that stabilize by stealing electrons from the neighboring molecules, and doing so causes oxidative damage to them.
Antioxidants also provide many other benefits such as strengthening the immune system, promoting cardiovascular health, promoting weight loss, improving neurological health, and so on.
(11) Relieve Morning Sickness
Consuming bay leaves increases the secretion of digestive enzymes in the stomach.
This provides relief from nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, and other related discomfort experienced during pregnancy.
(12) Quick Healing of Wounds And Injuries
Bay leaves promote the quick healing of wounds and injuries.
The antimicrobial properties of bay leaves protect wounds and injuries from bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
Anti-inflammatory compounds like vitamin C and dietary fibers in bay leaves reduce pain and inflammation caused by the injury.
(13) Good For Eyes
Bay leaves are good for our eyes as they contain vitamin C, vitamin A, and other antioxidant compounds like tannins, and flavonoids, etc.
These compounds protect our eyes from Free radical damage and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and glaucoma, etc.
Vitamin A in bay leaves is an essential nutrient for our ocular health as it improves vision, prevents dryness of the eyes, and reduces the risk of night blindness.
Other nutrients like zinc, iron, potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins in bay leaves also play a significant role in keeping our eyes healthy.
Beauty Benefits of Bay Leaves for Hair
Some major beauty benefits of bay leaves for hair are as follows.
(1) Reduces Hair Fall
Bay leaves strengthen our hair and reduce the risk of hair fall.
Vitamin C, vitamin A, and other antioxidants in bay leaves protect our hair and scalp from oxidative damage.
This strengthens our hair follicles and reduces the risk of hair fall.
Beta-carotene and protein in bay leaves strengthen our hair and reduces hair fall risk.
Other nutrients like zinc, potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins, etc in bay leaves also play an important role in controlling hair fall.
(2) Nourish Damaged Hair
Vitamins and minerals present in the bay leaves provide nourishment to our hair and scalp and protects them from damage.
Antioxidants like vitamin C, and other compounds like flavonoids, etc in bay leaves protect our hair from free radical damage and reduces premature greying of hair, hair fall, split ends, hair dryness, and other signs of aging.
Bay leaves restore moisture in the hair follicles and strengthen them.
(3) Prevents Hair Greying
It’s common to see our hair greying as we age. However, multiple factors such as pollution, stress, bad eating habits, and poor lifestyle choices may cause premature greying of hair.
Bay leaves protect our hair from premature greying of hair as they contain vitamin C, and other antioxidant compounds like flavonoids, etc.
These compounds protect our hair and scalp from free radical damage and reduce signs of premature aging such as premature greying of hair, hair fall, split end, and hair damage, etc.
B vitamins in bay leaves strengthen and nourish our hair, and delays the hair greying process.
(4) Manages Frizzy Hair
Bay leaves help in managing frizzy hair.
For this, boil bay leaves in water to make a concoction.
Let it cool, and use it as a hair rinse after shampooing and conditioning of hair.
(5) For Conditioning Dry Hair
Bay leaves help sin conditioning dry hair.
For this, boil some bay leaves with coconut oil for few minutes, and let it come to room temperature.
Once cooled, gently massage this mixture on hair and scalp, and let it dry for 30 minutes.
Regular use deep conditions our hair and prevents hair dryness.
(6) Protects Hair From Chemical Damage
Toxins, pollutants, and other unwanted substances present in the atmosphere damage our hair.
With the regular damage, our hair becomes weak, and it increases problems such as premature greying of hair, hair fall, split end, hair dryness, etc.
Bay leaves protect our hair and scalp from the damage caused by toxins, pollutants, and other harmful chemicals.
Vitamins and minerals in bay leaves nourish our hair and scalp and keep our hair and scalp healthy.
It strengthens our hair follicles and reduces the risk of hair fall.
(7) Improves Hair Thickness
The beta-carotene and protein present in the bay leaves improve hair thickness and strengthen them.
Nutrients in bay leaves provide nourishment to hair and add natural shine to them.
(8) Benefit Hair Shaft
Bay leaves benefit our hair shaft as they contain vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 is an essential nutrient for our hair as it prevents hair loss and hair damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some common questions regarding bay leaves are as follows.
1. Can Bay Leaves Be Eaten Raw
Yes, bay leaves can be eaten raw if you are not allergic to them. Eating bay leaves in the morning improves digestion and relieves digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, and gas, etc. Frying bay leaves with little oil increases the taste and aroma of the bay leaves.
2. Can Bay Leaves Be Eaten During Pregnancy
In general, bay leaves are safe to be eaten during pregnancy and provide many benefits such as providing antimicrobial benefits, regulating blood sugar, improving cardiovascular health, and so on.
However, for the safe side, consult your doctor before consuming bay leaves during pregnancy to ensure there is no risk or drug interference involved.
3. What are the Benefits of Eating Bay Leaves on an Empty Stomach?
Eating bay leaves on empty stomach provides many benefits such as improving digestive health, reducing symptoms of nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy, promotes weight loss, removal of excess fat, reducing bad cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar.
4. Are Curry Leaves Healthy for Kids?
Bay leaves are beneficial for our kids as they are loaded with essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B, C, and E, etc. These nutrients keep kids healthy and provide many benefits such as improves gastrointestinal health, eye health, protects the liver, enhances immunity, and helps in dealing with diarrhea and dysentery in kids.
5. How Many Curry Leaves I Should Eat Daily?
If you are not allergic to bay leaves you may safely consume 6-8 bay leaves per day.
If you suffer from any health condition and take medication for the same, consult your doctor before adding bay leaves to your diet.
Pregnant and nursing mothers should consult their doctor before adding bay leaves to their diet.
Word Of Caution
Although bay leaves provide many health and beauty benefits, there are few points of concern.
- Avoid bay leaves if you are allergic to them as they may cause skin problems like eczema and dermatitis.
- Ensure that you consume true bay leaves derived from the laurel tree and not other varieties as they may be toxic.
- If you are allergic to other members of the Lauraceae family, you are likely to be allergic to bay leaves.
- If you suffer from any health condition and take medication for the same, consult your doctor before consuming bay leaves to ensure there is no food-drug interference.
This article provides general information about the topic and is not be taken as medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice, treatment, and/or diagnosis. Always consult with your doctor before trying out any of the remedies/recipes suggested in the blog post.
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Bharat Sharma is a Delhi-based writer who loves reading and writing research-based topics revolving around health, fitness, and nutrition. His love for writing started during his teenage and continues till date. After his graduation, he worked for GE Money, and IBM, but later found his true love i.e. blogging.