Functional properties

On analysis the leaves contain the following nutrients:

moisture protein fat (ether extract)

carbohydrate fibre mineral matter calcium phosphorus iron carotene (as vitamin A) nicotinic acid vitamin C

thiamine and riboflavin

810 mg/100 g of edible portion 600 mg/100 g of edible portion 3.1 mg/100 g of edible portion 12 600 IU/100g 2.3 mg/100g 4 mg/100 g absent

The leaves are a fair source of vitamin A. They are also a rich source of calcium, but due to the presence of oxalic acid in high concentration (total oxalates, 1.35%; soluble oxalates, 1.15%), its nutritional availability is affected.

Curry leaf is used in traditional medicine, for example ayurvedic and unani medicine.9-11 The plant is credited with tonic, stomachic and carminative properties. The undiluted essential oil exhibited strong antibacterial and antifungal activity when tested on microorganisms.12 Even the crude leaf extracts of curry leaf plant are reported to possess antibacterial activity.13

Curry leaf has a potential role in the treatment of diabetes. Hypoglycemic action on carbohydrate metabolism was reported in rats fed with curry leaves.14 Hepatic glycogen and glycogenesis, as evident from the increased activity of glycogen synthetase, were increased and glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis were decreased as evident from the decreased activity of glycogen phosphorylase and gluconeogenic enzymes.

Curry leaf is found to exert antioxidant properties in rats fed a high fat diet.15 There were lower levels of hydroperoxides, conjugated dienes and free fatty acids in the liver and heart of rats supplemented with curry leaves compared to rats fed on the high fat diet alone. Activities of superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione transferase were increased in the heart and liver of rats supplemented with curry leaves. Activities of glutathione reductase, glutathione peroxidase and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase were also increased in the liver and the concentration of glutathione was decreased. Thus supplementing a high fat diet with 10% curry leaf can prevent the formation of free radicals and maintain the tissues at normal levels.

Patel and Rajorhia16 reported that ghee samples treated with 1% curry leaves during clarification showed higher resistance to oxidation and higher sensory scores than those treated with a mixture of BHT (butylated hydroxy toluene) + BHA (butylated hydroxy anisole), due to the presence of naturally-occurring antioxidants. The curry leaves at 1% concentration could be used instead of BHT and BHA for extending the shelf-life of ghee.

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