Curry leaves, or kadi patta are the leaves of the curry tree, scientifically known as Murraya koenigii Spreng. It belongs to the Rutaceae family. The plant is native to India and is usually found in tropical and subtropical regions.
The useful parts of this plant are its leaves, roots, and bark. The roots are used for treating body aches and the bark is used for snake bite relief. Packed with carbohydrate, fibre, calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, copper, minerals and vitamins such as B3 (nicotinic acid), vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin E, antioxidants, plant sterols, amino acids, glycosides, and flavonoids, curry leaves have lot of nutritional benefits. A constituent that deserves a special mention is carbazole alkaloids, which as per a research study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, possess antioxidant properties.
Curry leaves are a staple in Indian cuisine to lend a distinct flavour. Usually people discard the leaves from soups and curries while eating them, but below are some reasons why you should have the leaf,
- Keeps anaemia at bay
Curry leaves are a rich source of iron and folic acid. Anaemia is not only about the lack of iron in one’s body but also the body’s inability to absorb iron and use it. This is where folic acid is useful and responsible for carrying and helping the body absorb iron.
Tip: If you suffer from anaemia, eat one date (khajoor) with two curry leaves on an empty stomach every morning. This will not only help in increasing iron levels but also help to make you stronger.
- Protects the liver from damage
Liver plays a major role in the digestive process. Curry leaves can offer protection from any attack by free radicals, as well as from viral and bacterial attacks that can result in infection. Research on curry leaves has indicated that the tannins and carbazole alkaloids present in the leaves exhibited good hepatoprotective properties. A study published in Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research found that curry leaves are also effective in protecting the liver from oxidative stress and stimulates it to work more effectively.
Tip: Heat one spoon of homemade ghee, add juice of a cup of curry leaves, some sugar and freshly powdered pepper. Remember to heat this mixture a little only as Kaempferol present in curry leaves boils at a very low temperature. This remedy is very effective to strengthen the liver.
Perhaps one of the biggest health benefits of curry leaves is their use in diabetes control.
Research cited in an International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences showed that the anti-hyperglycemic properties of the leaves are beneficial in reducing blood glucose levels. They offer protection to insulin-producing cells of pancreas and prevent damage caused by free radicals. It is probably because of minerals like copper, iron and zinc that curry leaves perform this function.
- Lower cholesterol levels and protects from heart disease
These leaves have been shown to have positive effects on reducing LDL or bad cholesterol levels. Thus they help in protecting the body from heart disease and atherosclerosis. Curry leaves also help with weight loss, thanks to the presence of the carbazole alkaloids present in them.
As per ayurveda, curry leaves can be used as a cure for gastrointestinal issues as they are considered to possess mild laxative properties. Curry leaves contain Carbazole alkaloids that lend them anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help heal an upset stomach also.
Tip: You can make juice out of a bunch of curry leaves, add lime juice, and consume the mixture to alleviate indigestion. A paste made from the leaves can also be added to buttermilk and taken every morning on an empty stomach to serve the same function.
6.Prevent nausea and morning sickness
Women in their first trimester of pregnancy can opt for curry leaves in order to get relief from morning sickness and nausea. Curry leaves helps in increasing digestive secretions and give relief.
- Fight cancer and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy
The chemical constituents found in curry leaves such as phenols are helpful in fighting cancers such as leukaemia, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancers. One research study showed evidence of colon cancer fighting properties in the carbazole alkaloids extracts from curry leaves. They not only protect the chromosomes from damage but also protects the bone marrow and halt the production of free radicals in the body.
- Heal wounds
Curry leaves are also helpful in skin care. The juice or paste of the leaves can be applied to burns, cuts, bruises, skin irritations, and insect bites for an expedient recovery and clean healing.
- Hair care
Curry leaves help in strengthening hair roots as they contain antioxidants and amino acids. Dry curry leaf powder mixed with oil can be applied to your hair. The paste from curry leaves can also be applied in cases of grey hair to slow the greying process. Doing these on a regular basis can improve hair growth as well.
Curry leaf extracts can also help in dealing with dandruff and flaky scalp. You can take a handful of these leaves and then mix them with yogurt, smashing them up into a paste. Apply this directly to your hair and leave the mixture in for half an hour. Then, wash the mixture out and clean your hair as usual. This will help rejuvenate hair follicles.
Tip: To make curry leaf oil and to help strengthen your hair and fight dandruff, add curry leaves to 100 ml of coconut oil. Heat this oil on low flame and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, and then let the oil cool down. Strain this oil and apply to your scalp regularly.
- Good for eyesight
Curry leaves contain high amounts of vitamin A, which is beneficial for eyesight, according to experts. Vitamin A contains carotenoids which protect the cornea and the eye surface. They prevent early onset of cataract as they are rich in vitamin A.
- Reduce congestion in chest and nose
If you suffer from wet cough, sinusitis or chest congestion, curry leaves are a very effective home remedy to release congested mucous.
Tip: To relieve congestion, take a spoon of powdered curry leaves and add a spoon of honey to it. Have this paste twice a day.
- Improve memory
Incorporating curry leaves in your diet can have beneficial effects on your memory. It can help in dealing with impaired memory disorders such as alzheimer’s.
Curry trees are hardy plants and can be grown in home gardens relatively easily in warm climates. Although curry plants are frost tender, they can be grown indoors, particularly if you live in a cold region, and can flourish from cuttings or seeds.
You can incorporate curry leaves in your diet by making curry leaf powder also. For this, heat the dried leaves in the pan until they begin to brown, and curl and crisp. Don’t burn the leaves. Add salt into it gradually, then put the leaves in a food processor or blender. The leaves will powder very quickly into a fine green spice that you can add to dishes. It’s both delicious and easy to prepare and not to forget…very healthy.