Bay Leaf: Important Facts, Health Benefits, and Recipes

Explore the health benefits of bay leaves, including antibacterial properties, blood sugar control, and stress reduction, along with their culinary uses and storage tips.

What Is a Bay Leaf?

  • The bay leaf , also called laurel leaf, is the leaf of the sweet bay tree , an evergreen shrub of the Lauraceae family and originates in countries around the Mediterranean and grows in warm climates.

Are Bay Leaves Good For You?

Yes! Bay leaves have many healing properties.

Health Benefits Of Bay Leaves

  1. Bay leaves have antibacterial properties. Bay leaves inhibit the growth of bothStaphylococcus aureus(the bacteria behind Staph infections) andE. Coli. An early lab study also shows that bay leaves fight off H. Pylori, a bacteria that causes ulcers and even cancer.
  2. Bay leaves may help with blood sugar control. One study found that consuming capsules of ground bay leaves can decrease and manage blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes because of the polyphenols (antioxidants). Another study included people with DM eating cookies with ground bay leaves in them and they found that the subjects who ate them had lower blood sugar levels than subjects who didn’t
  3. Bay leaf extract may help prevent kidney stones according to a study conducted in 2014. The study found that, along with eight other traditional medicinal herbs, bay leaf was able to reduce the amount of urease in your body. Urease is an enzyme that can cause several gastric disorders, including kidney stones, when it’s out of balance.
  4. Bay leaf extract may help with the treatment of seizure. Iranian study found the extract was effective in treating mice with seizures and may help people with epilepsy
  5. Bay leaf tea may help improve cholesterol levels. A study was done where subjects drank bay leaf tea for 10 days. At the end of the study, their HDL levels were increased.
  6. Bay leaves May Improve Digestion. Bay leaves have been used traditionally to relieve symptoms of indigestion and other stomach-related issues.
  7. Bay leaves might be anti-inflammatory. A study published in the Phytotherapy researchjournal found that bay leaves contain a unique phytonutrient, called parthenolide, that can quickly reduce inflammation and irritation when applied topically to affected areas, like sore joints or areas. This effect might also be achieved through the normal consumption of bay leaf spice.
  8. Bay leaves may help reduce anxiety and stress Linalool (also in thyme and basil ) is also present in bay leaves. This compound can help lower the level of stress hormones in the body, especially when used in aromatherapy.

History, Background, and General Facts About Bay Leaves

  • Bay leaves have a long history in Greece and Rome, originating as an ornamental symbol of honor and success, and worn by Roman and Greek emperors, Olympians, scholars, heroes, and poets.
  • Two terms were created using this word: baccalaureate ,which is the reward for earning a bachelor's degree,meaning "berries of laurel," and poet laureate, an honor given by a government to someone to compose poems for special events.
  • Bay leaves are popular spices used in pickling and marinating and to flavor stews, stuffings, and fish
  • Bay leaves are delicately fragrant but have a bitter taste.
  • They contain approximately 2 percent essential oil .
  • The dried bay leaves are usually used whole and then removed from the dish after cooking; they are sometimes sold in powdered form.
  • Bay leaves have a floral and herbal scent similar to oregano and thyme and are used more often than any other herb.

What Are The Cuisines That Regularly Include Bay Leaves?

  • Indian cuisine: used in rice dishes like biryani and as an ingredient in garam masala .
  • Philippines : used in several dishes such as menudo , beef pares , and adobo .
  • They are often in European cuisines (particularly those of the Mediterranean), as well as in the Americas in broth and stock recipes
  • Mexican: chile verde, beans, and soups
  • The leaves also flavor many classic French and Italian dishes.
  • The leaves are most often used whole (sometimes in a bouquet garni ) and removed before serving (they can be abrasive in the digestive tract).
  • Thai and Laotian cuisine includes bay leaves
  • Arab -influenced dishes such as massaman curry
  • Bay leaves are also used in the making of jerk chicken in the Caribbean Islands. The bay leaves are soaked and placed on the cool side of the grill. Pimento sticks are placed on top of the leaves and the chicken is placed on top and smoked.
  • The leaves are also added whole to soups, stews, and other Caribbean dishes.

What Is The Best Way To Store Bay Leaves?

The best way to store bay leaves is in a sealed container or sealed plastic bag in a cool, dry place away from heat and sunlight, such as a pantry.

What Are The Different Types Of Bay Leaves?

  • Turkish bay leaf
    • the most common variety , more subtle than California variety
    • short and fat leaf
    • Found in the dried version in the US
  • California bay leaf
    • more potent and slightly minty flavor
    • thinner and longer silhouette
    • Sold in the fresh version in the US
  • Indian bay leaf
    • shorter and light- to medium-green in color with one large vein down the length of the leaf.
    • Indian bay leaves are about twice as long and wider, usually olive green in color and have three veins running the length of the leaf.
    • Indian bay leaves have a fragrance and taste similar to cinnamon bark, but milder.
  • Indonesian bay leaf
    • is not commonly found outside Indonesia ; this herb is added to meat
  • Mexican bay leaf
  • West Indian bay leaf
    • is used culinarily (especially in Caribbean cuisine) and to produce the cologne called bay rum .

Toxicity and Side Effects Of Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are not dangerous to consume when they are used for cooking and then removed from the dish. It isn’t advised to actually eat the bay leaf because they are very tough and sharp.

Nutritional Facts
1 leaf dried
Amount per serving
0.1 g
0 g
0 g
Saturated Fat
0 g
0 mg
0.1 g