The thought about curry leaves creates an image of curries and spicy dishes to which they are added for flavour and aroma. Now hold on! There is much more to curry leaves than just flavour and aroma. Curry leaves offer a lot of health benefits as well!
Curry leaves are used as cooking ingredients mainly in southern parts of India, and in some of the Asian countries. It is a rich source of iron and calcium, and has vitamin A, vitamin B2 and vitamin C as well. Additionally, they contain other elements like phosphorous and nicotinic acid. These nutritional elements, together with a lot of fibre content that curry leaves have, give them a special place in ayurvedic medicines and nature cure. The following are some of the main health-benefits of curry leaves:
(1) Curry leaves constitute a good home remedy for digestive disorders. A few crushed curry leaves along with ¼ teaspoonful of roasted cumin seeds should be added to a glass of skimmed buttermilk and taken for relief from common digestive ailments like dyspepsia, nausea, flatulence and heartburn.
(2) The fibre in curry leaves can be used supportively for weight loss regimens. They can be used in the making of chutneys (refer to Rajathi Family Kitchen episode no. 10 – Curry leaf and Ginger chutney). If they are used for flavour or aroma, do not throw them away, just chew and eat them. Alternatively, fresh curry leaves can be chewed and consumed separately. This also serves as a mouth cleanser because curry leaves have some ingredients like chlorophyll and essential oils that have anti-bacterial properties. After chewing the curry leaves, the mouth should be rinsed with water. This comprises an excellent natural mouthwash.
(3) Curry leaves can be helpful in cases of diabetes. Scientific research on the properties of curry leaves have shown that curry leaves slow down the rate of starch-to-glucose breakdown. Thereby, curry leaves could help control the amount of glucose entering the bloodstream. It appears very logical for people with diabetes mellitus to eat a few curry leaves on an empty stomach. However, this should not be used as a substitute for their regular medicines, but rather as a support or natural aid to the prescribed medicines. In due course, this may gradually decrease the dosage needs of the prescribed medicines.
(4) Curry leaves can also be used as a hair tonic. When used in the right manner, these leaves can prevent premature greying of hair, and support hair growth. A few curry leaves should be put in coconut oil and heated to the boiling point of the oil. When the oil is cooled, it can be stored and used as regular hair oil. Such curry-leaf-treated coconut oil should be applied regularly to the scalp and rubbed.
Written by: Saikumar Iyer
Date: 9th March 2012