The health benefits of curry leaves for your baby include supply of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, it is good for eyesight, effective against gastro-intestinal disorders, remedy for diarrhea and dysentery, offer liver protection, has neuroprotective properties and helps in building the immune system.
Curry leaves come from Curry tree which is a native plant to India and Sri Lanka. The leaves of this plant are put in various curries and the name curry leaves just stuck with it. The scientific name of this plant is Murraya Koenigii. The leaves of this plant resemble neem or Indian Lilac and the traditional name of curry plant means ‘sweet neem’.
Curry leaves are about 1 cm across and 1 inch in length and a handful of them are added to most curries. They add a unique flavor and taste to the curry. Apart from being a seasoning in the cuisine of Indian sub-continent, curry leaves are also known for their medicinal usage for many thousands of years. Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest known medicinal sciences has been using not just the leaves, but the whole plant as a cure for various diseases.
Nutrition of Curry Leaves
According to the Spices Board of India, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, the nutrition found in curry leaves include
|Nutrition||Value per 100 g||Nutrition||Value per 100 g|
|Moisture||63 g||Protein||6.1 g|
|Fat||1 g||Minerals||4 g|
|Fiber||6 g||Carbohydrates||18 g|
|Energy||108 kcal||Calcium||830 mg|
|Phosphorus||57 mg||Iron||0.93 mg|
|Magnesium||44 mg||Copper||0.1 mg|
|Manganese||0.15 mg||Zinc||0.2 mg|
|Chromium||0.006 mg||Vitamin A||7560 µg|
|Thiamine||0.08 mg||Riboflavin||0.21 mg|
|Niacin||2.3 mg||Folic Acid||93.9 µg|
|Vitamin C||4 mg|
Is it safe to serve curry leaves to babies?
Yes, curry leaves are safe to be added to your baby’s food. There is no age restriction for curry leaves as such, so as soon as you start solid foods (ie between 6-8 months of age) for your baby like cereals, vegetables and legumes, you can include curry leaves in those foods. It is not a good idea to add curry leaves directly, but you can give curry leaves by either boiling or steaming them, turn it into fine paste. Now you can add this paste one teaspoon at a time to your baby food along with other vegetables and lentils. You might not want to add the curry leaves paste directly to your baby’s cereal, as your baby might not take the taste well.
Health benefits of curry leaves for babies
Here are some of the health benefits provided by curry leaves for your baby.
High supply of vitamins and minerals: Just like many leafy vegetables and herbs, curry leaves are also a great source of various vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin C, vitamin A, folic acid, niacin, thiamin and riboflavin. Each of these vitamins plays an important role in your baby’s development. Vitamin C is useful for strengthening the immune system. Niacin is good for your baby’s brain development. Thiamin is known to have a role in organ and nervous system development, etc. Curry leaves are good source of calcium. For every 100 g, curry leaves contain about 830 mg of calcium. As we know, calcium is good for bone growth in babies. Another important mineral found in curry leaves is iron. About 1 mg of iron is found for every 100 g of curry leaves. Iron eradicates anemia and helps in producing hemoglobin.
Supply of antioxidants: Other than vitamins and minerals, studies have shown that curry leaves contain antioxidants which are useful against free radical damage and oxidative stress in the body.
Very good for eyesight: Curry leaves are high in vitamin A which is very good for eyesight. Just as carrot is a champion of vitamin A as far as vegetables are concerned, curry leaves are the champions of vitamin A when herbs are taken into consideration. Vitamin A is highly effective in the proper development of eyesight in children. Vitamin A deficiency can cause numerous diseases, most of which concern the eyes.
Effective against gastro-intestinal disorders: Curry leaves are also good for gastrointestinal disorders. They can reduce indigestion, nausea, stomach upsets, etc.
Diarrhea and dysentery: A paste of curry leaves can be prepared against diseases like diarrhea and dysentery. These diseases often affect infants and toddlers. You can give curry leaves as a complimentary medicine apart from the regular prescribed medicine given by the pediatrician.
Liver protection: Though liver is known to be one of the resilient organs in the body, the liver of an infant can still be prone to diseases. Some diseases such as jaundice or hepatitis can cause liver damage. Apart from the prescribed medication, you can include curry leaves paste in your baby’s food to improve the liver condition. Studies indicate that curry leaves are good for liver protection.
Neuroprotective properties: Apart from these benefits, curry leaves are also helpful in extending neuro protection. Some studies show that the biochemical extracts from curry leaves provide significant neuroprotective properties.
Building the immune system: Another benefit of curry leaves is its support to the immune system. Immune system of an infant can still be underdeveloped and hence may not be strong enough to fight disease causing bacteria and viruses. Curry leaf extracts show that they can assist the immune system and strengthen it.
Measures to be taken while serving curry leaves
Here are some of the measures that can be taken while serving curry leaves to your baby.
Few curry leaves: A good trick to add curry leaves to foods is to take a few leaves and add while cooking. This is done when you’re cooking for an adult. But for a baby, you can boil the leaves and make a paste of the leaves. This way it would be better for your baby.
Curry leaf paste: Preparing curry leaf paste can be a good idea, but make sure that the paste does not contain any moisture in it, so that you can store it in the refrigerator for few days. For this you need to take a bunch of leaves. You may either cook them before hand or make as it is. It’s up to you. When you want to add this paste to baby food, just take a teaspoonful of the paste and add it while cooking and let it cook well. Do not store this paste for a longer time, as it can spoil.
Dry powder: An alternative method for storing curry leaves for a longer time is to sun dry and powder the leaves. This way, you can store them for a longer period of time. You can also add other spices like small amount of pepper powder to spice up your baby food. A very important note, to mention here is that, when you want to add any such powder, add it when the food is being cooked. If added later, the powdered particles can enter into your baby’s nostrils by a small sniff, result in heavy sneezing.
Food allergies: As such curry leaves do not cause any food allergies in infants. But, in any case, do follow the rules of introducing new foods to your baby. To make sure whether or not curry leaves cause allergies, feed your baby, only with curry leaves paste along with the cereal. If you’re baby is doing fine, you can add this other vegetables and lentils. If you happen to notice any allergic symptoms, please stop feeding it your baby and consult your pediatrician immediately.