The Health Benefits of Bay Leaves
Bay leaves are aromatic leaves that are often used in cooking. There are different varieties of these leaves which include:
- Bay Laurel
- California Bay Leaf
- Indian Bay Leaf
- Indonesian Bay Leaf
- Western Bay Leaf
- Mexican Bay Leaf
While these leaves are native to Asia and grown in the Mediterranean area, they were introduced to Europe during the 16th century and are now a popular plant that is grown and harvested throughout the world. While these leaves give a distinct fragrance and flavor to many meals, bay leaf has been in use since ancient times to treat many health ailments and conditions.
The Heart Benefits
The American Heart Association states that food that contains high fiber content plays a key role in reducing blood pressure. Bay leaves are an excellent source of fiber. Not only that, they are also high in potassium and magnesium. They also contain folate, which plays a key role in making the cells in the body function properly. When you do not have enough folate in your daily diet, the levels of homocysteine in your blood can increase. Higher levels of homocysteine are one of the main causes of damage to blood vessels and blood clots.
By including bay leaves in your daily diet, you may decrease your chance of getting a heart attack by at least thirty percent since these leaves are loaded with vitamin B6-pyridoxine, which also plays a role in reducing levels of homocysteine, lowering cholesterol and unclogging arteries.
The Leaves Contain Strong Antioxidants
Bay leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant because it reduces free radical damage. It plays a role in preventing disorders of the eyes, giving you healthy skin and a healthy digestive system, helping your body fight many diseases and supporting a healthy brain. Even if you eat balanced meals, you may not be getting enough vitamin A in your daily diet.
Do you use bay leaves in your cooking?
A Major Source of Vitamin B
Along with vitamin B6, bay leaves also contain vitamins B2 and B3. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) also helps boost your immune system and increase the energy in your body as well as “maintaining healthy hair, skin, mucous membranes, and nails; slowing aging; boosting athletic performance; promoting healthy reproductive function” (WebMD). Vitamin B3 (niacin) also plays a role in turning our food into energy. In addition to this, it helps raise the level of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL). It is also good for healthy skin.
Good for the Digestive System
Bay leaves are excellent for your digestive system. Whether consumed as a tea or simply used in your cooking, they are effective in relieving symptoms of indigestion. These include:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
For an excellent digestive tea, put three to four leaves in a cup of hot water. Cover the cup and allow it to sit for fifteen minutes. Remove the leaves before drinking. This tea is also excellent if you are diabetic. Not only does it help stimulate your body’s ability to produce insulin, it also helps regulate blood sugar levels.
A Great Immune System Booster
Bay leaves boost the immune system because they contain large amounts of vitamin C. This is very important to know, especially during cold and flu season. If you have chest congestion:
- Put some bay leaves in a pan of boiling water and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes.
- Soak a washcloth in this solution.
- Allow the cloth to cool down until it is warm to the touch.
- Place it over your chest.
You can also put these leaves in a cup of boiling water and drink it as a tea. Not only will this help fight your cold or flu symptoms, it also helps reduce any fever you might have. Overall, you might avoid getting sick during cold and flu season if you include bay leaves. in your daily diet.
A Natural Pain Reliever
Bay leaves contain anti-inflammatory properties. This is a very effective natural pain reliever. Using this in place of your chemical-filled medications. You can find relief for:
- Sinus Pain
- Menstrual Cramps
- Muscle Spasms
- Arthritic Pain
- Gout Attacks
- Joint and Muscle Pain
While drinking it as a tea works, you can also use the essential oil from these leaves for massage to relieve aches and pains.
Where to Purchase Bay Leaves
You can find bay leaves at your local grocery or health food store. You can find fresh leaves in the produce section and dried leaves in the spice aisle. You can even purchase them as an essential oil. Some specialty store may sell lotions, teas, shampoos and other products that contain these leaves.
Before you start any herbal program to treat your health ailments or conditions, always talk to your doctor. Bay leaves may interact with other medications and supplements that you may be already taking. Never consume essential oils unless you know which ones are safe to take internally.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Lois Ryan