Bay leaf refers to the aromatic leaf of the bay laurel plant, which belongs to the Lauraceae family.The leaves of this plant are quite often used to add flavor to a range of dishes, due to their distinct fragrance. Bay leaves are most commonly used in Mediterranean cuisines, such as Mediterranean soups, stews, braises and pates. The fresh bay leaf is very mild and does not develop its full flavor and aroma until several weeks after picking up and leaving to dry. Bay leaves are generally crushed or ground before cooking. The crushed leaves impart more flavor and aroma to a dish, than the whole ones. When eaten whole, bay leaves are pungent and have a very sharp and bitter taste. As with a variety of spices and flavorings, the aroma of bay leaves is more desirable and noticeable than its taste. The fragrance is herbal, a tad-bit floral, and partially similar to that of oregano and thyme, when the leaves are dried. The article dwells at length on the benefits of bay leaves. Read on to know about their nutritional properties.
Health & Nutrition Benefits Of Eating Bay Leaf
- Bay leaf is known to provide resistance against different types of cancer. It contains caffeic acid, quercetin, eugenol and catechins, all of which posses chemo-protective properties.
- One of the phytonutrients contained in bay leaves, known as parthenolide, has shown to specifically restrain the proliferation of cervical cancer cells. This is done by inducing apoptosis, inhibiting tumor-associated angiogenesis and reducing the activity of the tumor promoter, NF-êB
- Bay leaves are a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, manganese, calcium, potassium and magnesium. As such, regular inclusion of bay leaves in meals promotes general heath and well-being.
- The leaves are known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. They contain some very valuable compounds, such as phytonutrients, caffeic acid, rutin, and salicylates, which promote cardiovascular health. Bay leaves make up an important component of Mediterranean seasonings for this specific reason only.
- Traditionally, bay leaves have been used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. The parthenolide present in bay leaves is an anti-inflammatory agent, according to ancient knowledge about the plant.
- In the middle ages, herbal practitioners used bay leaves to help in regular menstruation, treat snakebite, treat insect stings and cold, relieve cuts and bruises, cure urinary problems and ease rheumatism.
- Bay leaves are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Their antioxidant properties can help in conditions like diabetes, by enabling the body to process insulin efficiently.
- The leaves are used to treat stomach upsets and reduce the symptoms of digestive disorders. They contain enzymes that help to breakdown proteins and promote digestion of food.
- Some compounds present in bay leaves makes them an efficient herbal remedy for headaches. They have also proved to be useful in the treatment of migraines.