West Indian Bay Leaf is Essential! In a West Indian kitchen, there is a branch with dried leaves, and every pot of stew, sauce, cocoa tea, mauby and cook-up requires a leaf that enhances the flavour and transforms the ordinary pot into “soul-food”. This leaf is commonly known as bay leaf. Its far-reaching uses, aroma and presence always transforms me back to my grandmother’s kitchen, where my love of flavourful and tasty meals began. Little did I know back then that this mighty, diverse leaf had health benefits long past adding a unique flavour to my grandmother’s, my mother’s and later my culinary creations.
The West Indian Bayleaf tree (Pimenta Racemosa), also known as Sweet Cinnamon, was that fragrant, imposing tree in the backyard, that shared its bounty all year round. Bayleaf was always in season and in different islands, the popular tree was known by different names. In Islands with a French influence, for example, it’s known as Cilliment while in Jamaica it is known as Pimento. However, while every West Indian may be aware of the flavour benefits garnered from these leaves, many are unaware of the numerous health benefits that can be obtained from one cup a day of bay leaf tea.
It’s good for you!
Firstly, bay leaf tea is rich in potassium, antioxidants, and iron which makes it beneficial for a healthy heart. As a powerful trio, Potassium is vital for heart health. It helps with cardiac rhythm, as well as lowering blood pressure. Antioxidants help lower inflammation by protecting against free radicals in the body and have been linked to lowering the risk of heart disease. Iron is important for heart health as it protects against both heart disease and strokes. The impact of bay leaf on the reduction of cholesterol continues to be explored scientifically, however, it has already been confirmed by one study published in the journal Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition that one to three grams of bay leaves consumed daily was associated with 26 percent lower cholesterol levels.
Secondly, bay leaf contains both Vitamin A and Vitamin C. The presence of both means that consuming bay leaf tea can boost your immune system while the antibacterial components of bay leaf work to help prevent your body’s susceptibility to disease.
Finally, bay leaf tea aids with the digestive process. A quick drink of bay leaf tea about 30 minutes before having a meal can reduce bloating and the effects of gas on the digestive system.
However, getting quality bay leaf tea, that is convenient, can become a challenge. The best option is to purchase organic leaves with no additives or preservatives. The Twigs Naturals Bay Leaf tea has proven to be one of the best options for pre-packaged bay leaf tea bags, ready to be steeped in your favourite teacup. The Bay Leaf tea can be very strong aromatic an flavour, so it is best to steep for a few minutes at first in your hot water. Then steep a bit more, according to your desired tea strength.
While Bay Leaf Tea can add a delightful flavour experience to your tea time, persons with low blood pressure and low blood sugar should err on the side of caution with this tea, since its properties can lower both blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Like most things in life, therefore, it’s best to enjoy in moderation, as getting too much of any nutrient can do more harm than good.