14 Evidence Based Health Benefits of Curry Leaves

by Kiran Patil last updated -

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Curry leaves are natural flavoring agents with a number of important health benefits, which make your food both healthy and tasty along with giving it a pleasant aroma.

The health benefits of curry leaves include aiding in weight loss, treating diarrhea, morning sickness, and nausea, controlling diabetes, improving eyesight, and reducing stress among others. They contain various antioxidant properties and have the ability to control gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion, excessive acid secretion, peptic ulcers, dysentery, and an unhealthy cholesterol balance. They are also believed to have cancer-fighting properties and are known to protect the liver.

What are Curry Leaves?

Curry leaves or kadi patta are the leaves of the curry tree, scientifically known as Murraya koenigii Spreng and it belongs to the Rutaceae family. The plant is native to India and is usually found in tropical and subtropical regions. It is cultivated in various other countries such as China, Australia, Nigeria, and Ceylon.

The height of the plant ranges from small to medium. The useful parts of this plant are its leaves, roots, and its bark. The leaves have always been sought after for their unique flavor and usefulness in cooking, but there are also a number of health benefits that make them highly appealing. The leaves can be dried or fried, depending on the intended use. The fresh form is also very popular, both for cooking and herbal medicines.

In Ayurvedic medicine, curry leaves are believed to have several medicinal properties. They are considered to have anti-diabetic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and hepatoprotective (capability to protect the liver from damage) properties. The roots are used for treating body aches and the bark is used for snake bite relief.

The leaves, with their vast herbal properties, are used in various local cuisines across India and other parts of Asia as flavoring agents. Curry leaves resemble ‘neem’ or Indian lilac and their name in most Indian languages translates to ‘sweet neem’.

Curry Leaves Nutrition Facts

The main nutrients found in curry leaves are carbohydrates, energy, fiber, calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, copper, and minerals.  It also contains various vitamins like nicotinic acid and vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin E, antioxidants, plant sterols, amino acids, glycosides, and flavonoids. They have nearly zero fat (0.1 g per 100 g).

The other chemical constituents present in curry leaves are carbazole alkaloids. A research study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that alkaloids found in the leaves possess antioxidant properties.

Carbazole alkaloids include mahanimbine, murrayanol, mahanineoenimbine, O-methylmurrayamine A, O-methylmahanine, isomahanine, bismahanine and bispyrayafoline. Further studies conducted by Dr. Russel Ramsewak at the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University suggested that these chemicals have insecticidal and antimicrobial properties as well, specifically mosquitocidal properties.

Curry Leaves Benefits

Most people think that curry leaves just add flavor to the food and throw the leaves away while eating their soup or curry. However, they are far more important than many people realize and offer a number of health benefits without any side effects.

Weight Loss

Curry leaves help with weight loss, thanks to the presence carbazole alkaloids in them, which prevents weight gain and also burns LDL cholesterol. You can add dried or fresh curry leaves to your food or you can directly munch on the dried curry leaves for reaching your weight loss goals.

Cure Diarrhea

Research shows that the carbazole alkaloids present in curry leaves have anti-diarrheal properties. Experiments on lab rats showed that carbazole extracts from curry leaves had significantly controlled castor oil-induced diarrhea. A bunch of curry leaves can be ground up and the paste can be eaten or the juice of the leaves can be consumed.

Treat Indigestion

Use of curry leaves is recommended as a cure for gastrointestinal issues in Ayurveda. One important use is due to the fact that they are considered to possess mild laxative properties. You can make juice out of a bunch of curry leaves and add lime juice, and consume the mixture to cure 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.

Prevent Nausea & Morning Sickness

Curry leaves help in preventing nausea, vomiting, and morning sickness. They also help provide relief from morning sickness and nausea to women in their first trimester of pregnancy.

Protect Against Pathogen Attack

Research on curry leaves has revealed that they are also effective in fighting bacterial and fungal infections due the presence of carbazole alkaloids in them. This compound is known to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti cancer properties. The leaf extracts from the plant have been comparable to popular mainstream antibiotic drugs.

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Anti-diabetic Properties

Perhaps one of the biggest health benefits of curry leaves is their use in diabetes control, which is attributed to the presence of iron, zinc, and copper in them.

Another research cited in an International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences showed that the anti-hyperglycemic properties of the leaves were beneficial in controlling blood glucose level in diabetic rats.

Good for Eyesight

Curry leaves contain high amounts of vitamin A, which is good for eyesight, as per a study by Dr. Julie A. Mares, department of ophthalmology and visual sciences, University of Wisconsin–Madison. Vitamin A contains carotenoids which protect the cornea and the eye surface. Deficiency of vitamin A may cause night blindness, cloud formations in front of the eye, and even loss of vision in some cases.

Fight Stress

research published in the Food Chemistry journal has indicated that curry leaves are a good source of antioxidants. The presence of various vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and vitamin E help in reducing oxidative stress and free radical scavenging activity. They are also known to fight depression and anxiety.

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 a quick recovery and clean healing.

Fight Cancer

The chemical constituents found in curry leaves such as phenols are helpful in fighting cancers such as leukemia, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancers. Research on these leaves showed evidence of cancer-fighting properties in the carbazole alkaloids extracts from curry leaves.

Lower Cholesterol Levels

These leaves are also known to reduce LDL or bad cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that they have the potential to reduce LDL cholesterol levels.

Hair Care

Curry leaves are believed to help in strengthening hair roots. 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 gray hair. Doing these on a regular basis can improve hair growth as well.

Radio-protective and Chemo-protective

Studies on the extracts of curry leaves have shown positive results in reducing the effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. They also offer protection against chromosomal damage, protection of bone marrow, and prevention of free radicals becoming active in the body.

Protect the Liver

Your liver plays a major role in the digestive process and it needs to be protected 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. They are also helpful in protecting the liver from various diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis.

FAQs

Where to buy curry leaves?

Major chains like Walmart and Target have curry leaves in various forms, meaning that you can even grow your own at home! Smaller natural medicine and Ayurveda-oriented stores will also have these leaves for sale. Again, they have a wide variety of uses, so there are plenty of places to find them.

How to store curry leaves?

You should remove the curry leaves from the stems, wash them, and pat them dry. Place them on a large plate with a sieve or mesh cover and set the leaves out in the sun for 2-3 days. Store the dry leaves in a plastic container; you can even keep them in the fridge and simply get one whenever you need!

How to use curry leaves for hair?

Curry leaves are very popular in hair care, primarily because of the antioxidants and amino acids the leaves contain. 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 can help rejuvenate hair follicles and prevent hair loss.

How to make curry leaves oil?

You should start with a pan of coconut oil that you heat up before dropping in the curry leaves. Allow this mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes and then let the oil cool down. You can strain the oil at that point, and then use the remaining curry leaf oil whenever you want to massage your scalp or prevent premature graying.

How to make curry leaves powder?

To make curry leaf powder, all you need is a pan, curry leaves, and a pinch of salt. Heat the dried leaves in the pan until they begin to brown and curl/crisp. Don’t burn the leaves. Add the salt gradually and 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. Delicious and easy to prepare!

How to use curry leaves?

You can use curry leaves in a number of different ways, either in the preparation of food or for certain health benefits that this unique plant can bestow. You can make curry leaf oil and use it to increase hair growth or prevent premature graying. You can make curry leaf powder and add it to your food to benefit from the antioxidant content of the leaves. You can also grind fresh leaves into a paste and apply it to the skin to prevent infections.

How to grow curry leaves?

Curry trees are hardy plants and can be grown in home gardens relatively easily in warm climates. An entire plant can be grown from the fallen leaves of these trees; so many people choose to cultivate their own plants for their seasoning needs. 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!

About the Author

Kiran Patil is the founder of Organic Facts. He has a keen interest in health, nutrition, and organic living. He completed his B.Tech and M. Tech (Chemical Engineering) from IIT Bombay and has been actively writing about health and nutrition since over past 12 years. When not working he likes to trek and do gardening.

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