The herb, commonly called the bay leaf, can come from a range of different trees. One of the more prevalent sources is the Laurus nobilis (bay laurel tree). Other varieties of bay leaves include the Indian bay leaf, California bay leaf, the West Indian bay leaf, the Indonesian bay leaf, and the Mexican bay leaf.
Every variety of bay leaf has a slightly different taste. Bay leaves may be used dried, fresh, ground, or whole. There are various uses and health benefits of bay leaves, making them a renowned herb for cooking.
Bay leaves add flavor to well-known dishes like stews, soups, and other savory dishes. The key benefit of bay leaves is that they can enhance the taste of our meals without incorporating sodium.
It is also known to provide other health benefits. Some consumers add bay leaves to their baths, prepare tea with bay leaves, or crush bay leaves into a skin cream. Bay leaves have also been used by few to treat dandruff, gas, and boils (for which bay leaves have been applied topically on the skin) or joint pain and even cancer.
However, there is not adequate scientific proof to support the use of bay leaf for these benefits. There is limited proof suggesting that bay leaf benefits patients with type 2 diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus .
A single bay leaf used in cooking isn’t likely to alter the dish’s nutritional value. Generally, the leaf is removed from the dish before you consume it. Even if a leaf is left in the casserole, soup, or any other dish, it does not offer significant macronutrients or micronutrients.
If crumbled bay leaves are eaten in a dish, we may gain a few nutritional benefits. A single tablespoon serving provides about five calories, primarily in the form of carbohydrates. Micronutrients in bay leaves include vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, iron, manganese, and calcium .
[Read: About Nutrition Facts Label]
Selection, Preparation, & Storage
We’ll find whole bay leaves in the spice section of most food stores all year long. Crumbled, dried, or ground bay leaves may also be available. However, most cooks feel that ground bay leaves are potent and prefer to use (and then throw) a whole leaf when cooking.
Fresh bay leaves can also be found in the produce section of few markets. However, fresh bay leaves do not last long, so they are not as prevalent as dried.
Most people store bay leaves in their spice containers. However, few say that freezing bay leaves is a convenient way of storing this herb. Most chefs suggest storing bay leaves in the freezer because the leaves retain extra flavor when frozen than when stored in a dry, cool space.
Bay leaf is used in numerous cuisines. Go with any of these delicious recipes that utilize the bay leaf:
- Moroccan Spiced Chicken and Root Vegetable Stew
- Indian Palak Chicken
- Rainbow Vegetable Soup
- Russian-Style Red Beet Borscht
- Oven Italian Chicken Chili With Crunchy Cashews
Possible Side Effects
Bay leaves should not be eaten whole. The leaf cannot be digested because it remains intact. It may cause damage to the intestinal tract or become lodged in our throat.
Ground bay leaf and bay leaf are likely safe when taken in amounts generally present in food. It is also likely safe when taken medicinally for brief periods. However, there is insufficient scientific proof to know the effects of bay leaves if larger doses are ingested or used for prolonged periods.
Does a bay leaf make a difference?
Many recipes call for only 1 or 2 bay leaves. The secret to melding the flavor of the bay leaf into our dish is time. The longer our dish cooks with the bay leaf, the more flavor we’ll get.
Here’s a bay leaf tea concoction that can facilitate effective digestion by breaking down its nutrients. It also has the goodness of cinnamon that helps speed up digestion and metabolism. This may further aid in weight loss.
The bay leaf is a stimulator of insulin and helps increase one’s metabolic rate. Cinnamon can help to lower the carbon dioxide levels in our stomach, supporting better digestion.
How To Bay Leaf Tea For Improved Digestion:
- 1 large or 2 small tej patta (bay leaves)
- 1.5 to 2 cups of water
- 1 cinnamon stick or half teaspoon cinnamon powder
- Honey and lemon, optional
- Boil water with cinnamon and bay leaf and for five to six minutes.
- Turn off the flame and close the lid for three to four minutes.
- Now, strain the water in a container and add honey and lemon if you prefer.
Drink this tea and give a jump start to your day. But always remember to check with an expert before venturing into any lifestyle-related changes.
[Also Read: Yoga for Digestion]
How Do Bay Leaves Support In Digestion?
Bay leaf could do wonders for our gastrointestinal system. Organic compounds found in bay leaves effectively settle an upset stomach and soothe IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
The unique enzymes found in these leaves help facilitate the metabolism of complex proteins and efficient digestion. Bay leaves also help in the elimination of toxins from our system, which further helps enhance digestion.
Bay leaf has been a conventional remedy to cure stomach ulcers and indigestion. Recently, scientists in Turkey discovered that bay leaf oil prevented stomach ulcers in rats. Other clinical trials show it can help digestion by stimulating the healthy secretion of stomach acids that break down food.
[Also Read: Essential Supplements for Digestion]
One of the finest Ayurvedic remedies to manage indigestion through bay leaf is having a simple bay leaf tea. Bay leaf tea also helps enliven gastric fire.
Ayurveda states that when our digestive fire is doused, we may have hindered digestion and related problems like flatulence, gas, and acidity. Steep half teaspoon ground or crushed or bay leaf in a hot water cup for about ten minutes to make tea. Incorporate a pinch of cardamom and drink after eating.
1. What is a suitable alternative for bay leaves in recipes?
Thyme or oregano can be used if you don’t have a bay leaf ready for your recipe.
2. Should you use dried or fresh bay leaves in recipes?
We can use either dried or fresh bay leaves, but dried bay leaves tend to be stronger in flavor and simpler to keep fresh.