Bay leaf nutrition facts
Pleasantly aromatic bay leaf or bay laurel is one of the well recognized spices since ancient times, revered for its medicinal as well as culinary purpose. In legends, bay laurel is highly regarded in astrology as a tree of the sun god under the celestial sign of Leo.
Botanically, bay tree belongs to the family of Lauraceae of the genus; Laurus. Scientific name: Laurus nobilis. Bay laurel is thought to be originated in Asia minor but spread to all over Mediterranean and Asia during earlier times.
The bay plant is a conical evergreen tree growing to 30 feet in height. Yellow or greenish white, star shaped flowers appear during early which subsequently produce dark green-purplish single seeded berry. The leaves are elliptic and shiny dark green about 3-4 inches long, rather thick, and leathery.
The leaves give off a sweet aroma when broken and added to dish. When slightly wilted and dried, they are strongly aromatic. The dried fruit is also being used as a flavoring agent in cuisines.
Health benefits of bay leaf
Bay leaf was highly praised by the Greeks and the Romans, who thought that the herb was symbolic of wisdom, peace, and protection.
The spice contains many notable plant derived compounds, minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
This spice has many volatile active components such as ?-pinene, ?-pinene, myrcene, limonene, linalool, methyl chavicol, neral, ?-terpineol, geranyl acetate, eugenol and chavicol. These componds are known to have antiseptic, anti-oxidant, digestive, and thought to have anti-cancer properties.
Fresh leaves are very rich source of vitamin-C; provide 46.5 mcg or 77.5% of RDA per 100 g. Vitamin-C (ascorbic acid) is one of the powerful natural anti-oxidant help remove harmful free radicals from the body. Ascorbic acid also has immune booster, wound healing and anti-viral effects.
Furthermore, its fresh leaves and herb parts are very good in folic acid; contain about 180 mcg or 455 of RDA per 100 g. Folates are important in DNA synthesis and when given during peri-conception period can help prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
Bay leaves are excellent source of vitamin A; contain 6185 IU or 206% of recommended daily levels per 100 g. Vitamin A is a natural antioxidant and is essential vitamin for vision. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin A has been found to help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
The spice is indeed very good source of many vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and riboflavin. These B-complex groups of vitamins help in enzyme synthesis, nervous system function, and regulating body metabolism.
This noble spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
Medicinal uses of bay leaf
Medicinally, the benfits of the bay leaf and its berries are plentiful. It has astringent, diuretic, and appetite stimulant properties.
Essential oil from the bay leaves contains mostly cineol (50%); furthermore, eugenol, chavicol , acetyl eugenol, methyl eugenol, ?- and ?-pinene, phellandrene, linalool, geraniol and terpineol are also found.
Infusions of herb parts are reputed to soothe the stomach and relieve flatulence and colic pain.
The lauric acid in the bay laurel leaves has insect repellent properties.
Bay laurel infusions are used to soothe the stomach ulcers and relieve flatulence.
The components in the essential oil can also been used in many traditional medicines in the treatment of arthritis, muscle pain, bronchitis and flu symptoms.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||8.36 g||29%|
|Dietary Fiber||26.3 g||69%|
|Vitamin A||6185 IU||206%|
|Vitamin C||46.5 mg||77.5%|
Selection and storage
Traditionally, the leaves are picked and dried slowly under the shade, away from direct sunlight, in order to retain volatile essential oils.
In the spice stores, one might come across different kinds of bay leaf preparations. Completely dried, dried crushed, freeze-dried, and dried and ground forms are displayed for sale in such stores. Buy from authentic sources and avoid those with off-smell, spots, or fungus infected leaves.
Once at home store bay leaf in airtight jar or container and keep away from strong light. Its leaves should not be stored for longer than a year since they will then lose their flavor.
Its dried fruits are also being used as a flavoring.
The glossy dark green leaves can be used fresh or dried, but are best after being allowed to wilt under the shade for few days when their bitterness has gone but the leaves still retain their aroma.
If you find in foods, just keep aside before eating, as they are tough to eat and quite strongly flavored.
Here are some serving tips:
Bay leaf is one of the ingredients in bouquet garni along with thyme, sage, savory, clelery, basil etc.
The spice is also used in the preparation of court bouillon. Court bullion is readymade preparation made of water, salt, white wine, vegetable aromatics (onion and celery), and flavored with bouquet garni and black pepper.
Its dried leaves are brewed into a herbal tea.
Bay laurel is also an essential ingredient in many classic sauces such as bread sauce, tomato sauce, and béchamel.
Bay leaves are added to flavor cuisines such as seafoods, poultry, meat, rice (pulov), and vegetable dishes.
Bay leaf is used to flavor sweet dishes like sweet breads, custards, creams etc.
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