Changing The African Food Narrative

Nigerian curry leaf

NIGERIAN CURRY LEAF (LEMON BASIL)
Nigeria curry leaf, also known as lemon basil is an herb used to add aroma and flavor to varieties of dishes. Curry herbs comes from curry tree popularly known as sweet neem tree from the family of Rutaceae.
The curry leaf is a perfect herb for seasoning stews, jollof rice, pepper soup, porridge, noodles, stir fries so many other kinds of dishes. Curry leaf is a tender popular herb with a very sweet and pungent aroma. It contains carbs, fiber, amino acids, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins, and compounds containing antimicrobial properties. They also contain many vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants
Furthermore, as the herb goes by the name curry leaf in Nigeria, one may think it taste like a curry powder. But it does not taste like curry powder at all. In other words, there is no taste, aroma or colour similarity between it and curry powder.

Health Benefits of Nigerian Curry Leaves (Lemon Basil)
1. Reduces the risk of heart diseases
An increase in cholesterol or blood pressure levels may lead to severe heart conditions. Adding lemon basil leaves to our diet helps reduces the risk of bad cholesterol levels, which may lead to heart failure. This herb also contains a compound known as Eugenol. The Eugenol in basil is able to block calcium channels, which helps to lower blood pressure.
2. Helps control blood sugar levels
Lemon basil leaf extract is known to possess essential nutrients that reduce blood sugar levels and protect against diabetes and kidney failure. One animal study discovered that an extract of sweet basil leaves was able to reduce high blood sugar levels. The results also showed that sweet basil leaves could be useful in treating the long-term effects of high blood sugar.
3. Protects the liver
Curry leaves are rich sources of antioxidants, which protects the liver from free radicals. The antimicrobial compounds fight against viral infection and other diseases like fatty liver. Multiple studies have shown that this herb has a positive effect on the liver.

4. Helps in weight loss
Nigerian curry leaves (lemon basil) contain a compound that burns fat and lowers cholesterol levels, thereby avoiding obesity. Obesity tends to lead to other diseases like diabetes or kidney damage. Including curry leaves helps regulate our body weight, keeping it in check.
5. Promotes healthy eyes and hair.
As mentioned initially, the leaves are rich in vitamins, which help improve eyesight and strengthens the hair. It is also beneficial for hair growth and getting rid of dandruff.
6. Prevents cancer
Lemon basil leaves contain a lot of powerful antioxidants that fight oxidative stress and kill off cancer cells. The herb contains antioxidants such as Eugenol, limonene, anthocyanin, and beta-carotene, which destroy the free radicals in your body.
7. Fights inflammation and swelling
Along with the numerous antioxidants, basil leaves contain essential oils such as linalool and citronella, which help fight against inflammation and swelling in the body. The leaves also have antibacterial properties, which protect you against urinary, respiratory, and skin infections.
8. Good for mental health
Even though there is little research to confirm this health benefit, lemon basil leaves might be helpful in improving mental health. The antioxidants and compounds present in the leaves can ward off anxiety and depression, reduce the risk of age-related memory loss, and boost memory.

How To Use Curry Leaf In Cooking
Curry leaf or sweet basil herbs are not very heat stable because of the sensitivity of its aromatic compound. So adding curry vegetables just at the end of cooking or after cooking is the best. This helps to retain the taste and flavours. In addition, when you cook curry leaf for a long time, the signature flavor wanes off and you lose the integrity of the herbs.

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