Curry Leaves for Weight & More: 14 Health Benefits

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Curry leaves are natural flavoring agents with a number of important health benefits. They not only give your food a pleasant aroma but can enhance its flavor and health benefits.

The health benefits of curry leaves also include aiding weight loss; treating various gastrointestinal issues diarrhea, controlling diabetes, improving eyesight, and reducing stress. Curry leaves contain various antioxidant properties which aid digestive issues and an unhealthy cholesterol balance. They are also believed to have cancer-fighting properties.

What are Curry Leaves?

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. It is cultivated in various other countries including China, Australia, Nigeria, and Ceylon.

The height of the plant ranges from 6 to 15 feet long. The useful parts of this plant are its leaves, roots, and 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: anti-diabetic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and hepatoprotective. 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 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 carbohydrate, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, copper, and other minerals. They also contain various vitamins such as B3 (nicotinic acid), vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin E, antioxidants, plant sterols, amino acids, glycosides, and flavonoids.

They also have a trace, nonsignificant amount of fat (0.1 g per 100 g).

Another chemical constituent present in curry leaves is 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. A further study conducted at the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University suggested that these chemicals have insecticidal and antimicrobial properties as well, specifically mosquitocidal properties.

Bunch of curry leaves on a wooden table

Benefits of Curry Leaves

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

Weight Loss

Curry leaves may help with weight loss, thanks to the presence of the carbazole alkaloids mentioned above, which may prevent weight gain and lower LDL cholesterol. You can add dried or fresh curry leaves to your food or you can directly munch on the dried curry leaves.

Alleviate Diarrhea

Research shows that the carbazole alkaloids present in curry leaves have antidiarrheal properties. Experiments on lab rats showed that carbazole extracts from curry leaves significantly controlled castor oil-induced diarrhea. Consume them by grinding up one bunch of curry leaves, and eat the paste or the juice of the leaves.

Treat Indigestion

In Ayurveda, it is thought that the use of curry leaves can be used as a cure for gastrointestinal issues as they are considered to possess mild laxative properties. 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.

Prevent Nausea & Morning Sickness

It is thought in many cultures that 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.

Fight Infection

Research on curry leaves has revealed that they are effective in fighting bacterial and fungal infections due to the presence of carbazole alkaloids. 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.

Anti-diabetic Properties

Perhaps one of the biggest health benefits of curry leaves is their use in diabetes control.

A research study published in the Die Pharmazie – 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. It further notes that curry leaf extract might even be more effective than glybenclamide, an oral hypoglycemic drug.

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. Deficiency of vitamin A may cause night blindness, cloud formations in front of the eye, and even loss of vision in some cases.

Fight Oxidative Stress

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

Heal Wounds

Curry leaves are also helpful in skincare. 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.

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. One research study showed evidence of colon cancer-fighting properties in the carbazole alkaloids extracts from curry leaves.

Lower Cholesterol Levels

These leaves have been shown to have positive effects on reducing LDL or bad cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that they have the potential to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, but further research is needed to confirm the results.

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 to slow the graying process. Doing these on a regular basis can improve hair growth as well.

Protect the Liver

Your liver plays a major role in the digestive process. Curry leaves can help offer a boost of 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.

FAQs

Where should you 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 should curry leaves be stored?

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 should curry leaves be used on hair?

Curry leaves are very popular in hair care, primarily because they contain antioxidants and amino acids. 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.

How to make oil from curry leaves?

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. At that point, you can strain the oil and then use the remaining curry leaf oil whenever you want to massage your scalp or prevent premature graying.

How to make curry leaf 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 and crisp. Don’t burn the leaves. Add the salt 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!

How does one 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 offers. You can make curry leaf powder and add it to food to reap the benefits 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. 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!

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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