Most Indian households use curry leaves in their day-to-day cooking—especially to add that aromatic flavour to meals. But the minute we sit down to eat that meal we pick out those curry leaves and keep them aside. I am sure once you get to know the amazing benefits these humble leaves have to offer, you will start embracing them instead.
These commonly-grown aromatic curry leaves are also known as kadi patta or meetha neem in Hindi are used extensively for culinary purposes. These bitter tasting leaves not only add aromatic flavours to the food but also enhances the health benefits of the meal.
In Ayurveda, curry leaves have been mentioned as Krishnanimba named after lord Krishna, the god of protection. Being a powerhouse of nutrients like protein, fibre, calcium, phosphorus, iron, multivitamins and flavonoids—curry leaves have been used in traditional medicine for the treatment and prevention of various health conditions.
Here are some of the health benefits of curry leaves:
1. It can treat diabetes
Curry leaves activate the production of insulin in the body and thus possess hypo-glycemic properties, because of which they help in regulating blood sugar levels. The high fibre content of curry leaves slows the breakdown of carbs into glucose which further helps in keeping the blood glucose levels under control. Addition of curry leaves to a low GI (glycemic index) diet works miraculously for people with diabetes.
2. It prevents anaemia
Adeficiency of iron is the most common reason for anaemia. Curry leaves being a rich source of iron and folic acid are extremely effective in increasing haemoglobin levels. Usually iron rich sources require an intake of folic acid for absorption in the body. The high content of folic acid in curry leaves takes care of that as well. Curry leaves also act as a potent blood purifier.
3. They can improve digestion
Curry leaves have carminative properties because of which they are highly effective against indigestion. Being high on fibre, curry leaves regulate bowel movements. They are also a natural stimulant and hence can enhance the appetite as well. Its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties help in soothing conditions like diarrhoea, dysentery, piles, bloating, and constipation.
4. Curry leaves promotes hair growth
Curry leaves are a storehouse of multivitamins, protein and various other nutrients. It’s very effective in treating damaged hair, strengthening hair follicles, treating dandruff and ultimately preventing hair fall. Curry leaves also help in preventing greying of the hair.
5. Protects bones and teeth
Being a rich source of calcium and phosphorus curry leaves help in improving bone health by strengthening the bones and preventing diseases like osteoporosis. The anti-bacterial and anti-microbial property of curry leaves help in maintaining good oral health. The essential oils in curry leaves help strengthen gums and teeth and protect them from various infections.
There are numerous other health benefits of curry leaves like aiding weight loss, enhancing cognitive abilities, preventing cancer etc. The list goes on and on, but the bottom line is: DO NOT waste or throw away these incredible leaves. Eat and reap the health benefits of curry leaves.
Ways to incorporate curry leaves:
1. Add 10 to 15 freshly plucked curry leaves in various meal preparations like poha, pulav, curd rice, lemon rice, and curries.
2. Add 20-30 fresh curry leaves in mint or coriander chutney and enhance its health benefits.
3. Sundry 30-40 curry leaves and coarsely hand-crush them. Dry roast 3-4 tablespoons of fennel (saunf) seeds and add the crushed curry leaves to the seeds. Keep the mixture in an airtight bottle and have it both as a mouth freshener and a post meal digestive.
4. Use curry leaves to make a drink helpful for diabetes. Boil a glass of water and add 10-15 fresh curry leaves along with a few fresh mint leaves. Add a pinch of cinnamon and strain the liquid in a cup. Squeeze fresh lemon and enjoy the benefits of the drink.
5. Use curry leaves to prepare hair oil. To make the oil add 15-20 freshly plucked curry leaves to pure coconut oil and heat them. Once the leaves turn dark turn off the flame and let it cool. Apply this oil to the scalp at least once a week to reap its benefits.