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 The science behind eating on leaves and leaf plates

The science behind eating on leaves and leaf plates

In India, the habit of serving food on natural leaf plates has been present since time immemorial. This concept is as broad as it is long; there are scientific & logical reasons and associated benefits behind such a tradition.

Banana leaf is one of the most well-known and common examples. Its antibacterial & therapeutic nature make it the most viable option to replace contemporary plates. It may come as a surprise, but there are many other leaves like Jackfruit leaf, Sal leaves, Areca leaf, Teak leaves, Castor leaves, Patravalis that have demonstrated similar health benefits and are natural plates for serving food. Each of these leaves have a distinctive composition, molecular chains, and enzymes that offer potential benefits.

banana leaf plate with rice
Food served on banana leaf is a festive practice in South India. Pic Source: Flickr

India is the epitome of ancient eating styles which is recognized globally not just for its uniqueness but also for the fact that they scientifically relevant.

According to recent scientific studies, banana and all other leaves release natural antioxidants called polyphenols, on serving hot food or water. The served food then absorbs these antioxidants, and upon food intake, these properties help to fight against free radicals & improves the immune system. Banana leaf releases a particular type of polyphenol called Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) which not only cleanses blood but also enhances immunity. 

Geographical location, climate, and nature of food grown play an essential role in the availability of the different leaves. But inevitably, this question pops up in our mind, “How is it that the practice of eating food on leaves is continuing from thousands of years?”. Well, to help you understand better, here are some powerful insights that can answer your questions.

Health

There are numerous scientific health benefits associated with eating on leaves. Eating on a banana leaf is most common, but many other types of leaves can serve the same purpose, and each of these leaves is associated with scientific benefits. Let us have a look at each one of them.

  • Banana leaf: stimulates the digestive fire, helps in the treatment of toxicity, tiredness, improves immunity.
  • Bastard teak leaf: treats ascites and abdominal tumor, cures dyspnea, improves taste, and promotes good health.
Bastard Teak Leaf Pic Source: Flickr

  • Ricinus teak leaf: kills worms, and treats fever.
  • Calotropis leaf: Treats abdominal tumor, pain, poisoning, dyspnea, anaemia, and skin diseases.
  • Castor leaf: Highly beneficial for eyes and easy to digest. Stimulates the digestive tract.
  • Secrete milky sap leaf: Helps overcome thirst, burning sensation, and bleeding disorder.
  • Lotus petals: Aphrodisiac, removes weariness and is recommended for travelers.
  • Tahitian screwpine leaf: Treats all types of glandular swellings and is beneficial to the eyes.
  • Stereospermum suaveolens leaf: Cures anemia, inflammatory swelling, dyspnea, and sexual disorders.

Hygiene

There is no chance of bacterial infections as reusing these leaves is not a possibility. A fresh leaf is always used to serve food.

Ecology

Eating on banana leaf benefits the environment to a great extent. Since the leaves are direct products of mother nature, they are bio-degradable and animal friendly. In rural areas, the used leaves are given a quick rinse and placed into the animal sheds where they relish the leaves.

Economical

Eating food on leaves is simply inexpensive!

While it was a daily routine in every Indian house earlier, it has now become a mere formality which is observed only during festivals & other special occasions. With high utility value accompanied by numerous health & ecological benefits, it is high time that we take this ancient culture forward and turn it into a cult form. And not just India, even many other foreign countries are taking steps to adopt this culture.

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