10 Interesting Benefits Of Eating Food On Banana Leaves

Since the ancient times, most of the people living in the south of India, eat their food on banana leaves. Eating food on Banana leaves has many good reasons behind it. From scientific reasons to some generic benefits, there is a huge list of pros. During my research, I didn’t find any cons of using banana leaves except the one that they cannot be reused and should not be re-used. As per ancient traditions, you must serve food to your guests in the upper portion of the leaf and you (the hosts) are supposed to eat on the lower portion of the leaf.

Benefits of Eating Food on Banana Leaf

Previously, people followed this way of eating in their everyday life, but nowadays people use banana leaves only on some occasions because the quality of the banana leaves is degraded with the use of unnatural fertilizers during farming. This resulted in lower quality of banana leaves and increased health risks by eating harmful chemicals.

However, this ancient habit is still in practice in many south Indian states and the benefits of eating on a banana leaf can be still be experienced in today’s modern life. If you are from the south of India and are wondering why did your ancestors use to eat food on a banana leaf, then you might find some interesting information here.

Let’s explore some of the reasons and let us not dive into scientific reasons first, let me tell you some of the common reasons for using banana leaves as serving plate

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Generic Benefits of Eating on Banana Leaves

Lets check some of the Generic Benefits of Using Banana leaves as a plate to eat food.

 

1) Size of Banana Leaves

Size of Banana Leaf which can accomodate large quantiy of food

Banana leaves are very large and can accommodate a complete meal in a single unit. If you have heard about the Kerala’s banquet or “Sadhya”, then you would know that it is a feast prepared during special occasions in very large quantity and has many food items in the meal. So, to get all the items on your plate you need a huge plate which is not feasible as well as not required because you have Banana Leaves.

All the food items available in the feast can be easily served on the banana leaf without mixing up different curries. I personally hate that moment when my rice and curries mix up along with the sweet in my dish and create a mess because of the small size of the plate. That’s why in the Sadhya, you will find banana leaves being used as a plate.

 

2) Banana leaves are Affordable too.

Banana leaves are available in plenty and are very low-cost plates. You might find them in the market sold on per piece or per kilogram depending on the quantity you require. The price also varies based on the place you buy the banana leaves from. Ordinary plastic plates or steel plates are long lasting but they are very costly.

If you know any banana farmer, then you will most likely get them for free. This makes banana leaves cheap and affordable by everyone. Hence you might see food being served in banana leaves in rituals and marriages as there is a huge crowd in Indian marriages which makes it difficult for low budget families to order so many costly plastic dishes.

3) Banana leaves are Waterproof as well

Banana leaves are waterproof so that you can easily eat liquid foods over it

South Indian foods involve many liquid dishes such as rasam, sambar, etc. Banana leaves are waterproof which makes it easy to eat liquid food on the banana leaf plate. It won’t spoil your desk or clothes. Even the ghee and oils used in the food doesn’t stick on the plate and hence you can completely enjoy your meal without facing any difficulties.

This waterproof quality makes banana leaves a perfect choice for the natural plate as you can easily wash them and make use of it. While most of the plant’s leaves are not waterproof and if wash them or if you eat food on them, the leaf plate might break down and spoil your food.

 

4) Eating on Banana Leaves adds Pleasant Flavour & Aroma

The fresh banana leaves have a very thin wax coating which melts when hot food is served on it. This wax-like coating releases a pleasant aroma and infuses an extra flavor into your food. When eating rasam and rice on banana leaves you are most likely to feel this fresh flavor and awesome aroma. This is the reason why people say that eating food on banana leaves gives them a delightful experience.

5) It is mentioned in Ancient Literature

In various Indian ancient literature, there are numerous mentions of using banana leaves. Not in just rituals and festivals, but also in decorations and its use as a place for serving food. Banana leaf was present in almost all rituals where we worship “God Ganeshji” as well as in various “Kathas” you do at your place. In that ancient literature, there is a special mention about eating food on banana leaves after any religious pooja’s or rituals which can bring prosperity to our life.

 

Scientific Benefits of Eating on Banana Leaves

Now, you know the generic benefits of using banana leaves. Let me tell you about some of the Scientifically researched benefits of eating your food on banana leaf.

 

1) Banana Leave Has Many Proven Health Benefits

Do you know what makes green tea special? Yes, you are right it is the antioxidant properties of the green tea which make it good for health. Like the green tea, banana leaves also possess these anti-oxidant properties in them. Not just anti-oxidant, banana leaf is also anti-bacterial in nature and thus it can kill germs in the food. The chemical which makes banana leaves antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-fungal is EGCG {Epigallocatechin gallate}. Various studies also proved that the antioxidants present in the banana leaves can help to cure cancer. Also, in one Chinese research, they found that banana leaves can aid people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Now you might be wondering that we are not going to eat the banana leaf. We want to know the benefits of eating on banana leaves. Even though you are not eating a banana leaf you can still get a significant amount of similar benefit just by eating your hot tasty food in a banana leaf.

 

2) Banana leaves are Eco-friendlier than options

When it comes to disposable plates, most of you are using plastic plates, Styrofoam plates or plastic coated paper plates. These plates take years to decompose and hence they spread pollution on the planet. But banana leaves are a great eco-friendly alternative to these plates. They get decomposed rapidly and help reduce soil pollution. In fact the used banana leaves can be mixed with natural fertilizers and help you grow more plants.

 

3) Banana leaves are Hygienic option

As we discussed earlier, banana leaves are waterproof. This water-resistant quality of banana leaves also avoids the harmful chemical liquid fertilizers to stick on its surface and hence it becomes less harmful. Also, you can easily clean them before eating without any health risk. Even when you are at a low area where cleanliness is questionable, you can eat food on banana leaves without worrying. This makes eating on banana leaves safe and hygienic.

4) Banana leaves are Free from Chemicals

Banana Leaves are free from chemicals

After reading the points about waterproof and hygienic, you can understand how banana leaves can be free from harmful chemical fertilizers. Moreover, when we clean plastic plates or stainless steel plates by soaps or detergents, the harmful chemicals of these detergents stick to the plates. These injurious chemicals then get mixed with the food and you indirectly intake some chemicals which can be dangerous for your health. But there is no need to clean banana leaves with these harmful chemicals. Hence eating food on banana leaves will give you a better experience and protect you from many harmful chemicals.

5) Banana Leaves are used in Ayurveda

There are many uses of Banana leaves in the Ayurveda. It is used for making some ayurvedic medicines and was used to pack the medicines but for short period. There are various reasons behind using banana leaf in ayurvedic medicines and some of them we discussed earlier in this post. Though the use in Ayurveda is not related to eating food on banana leaves but these properties are the core reason why banana leaves are chosen instead of other plant or tree leaves.

Bowls made of Banana leaves

Nowadays, there are designed utensils made from banana leaves as you can see in the image above. I personally liked the concept of this pre-made utensils but eating in this utensil might not give you all the benefits you can get from a banana leaf. So, if you want to get all the above-mentioned benefits, get a fresh bunch of banana leaves for you and your family and try eating your food in banana leaves.

If you are thinking about which food items you can eat on the banana leaves, then here is your answer! You can eat any type of rice dish. Ideally, all the dishes from the South Indian Cuisines such as Idli, Dosa, Upma, Uttapa can be served on the banana leaf. You may place different kind of curries, pickles, chutney and lentils on these leaves of banana.

There is one peculiar style of placing the food in the banana leaves when you are serving your guest. Food items such as Rasam or Sambar which are liquid in nature are served on the upper layer of the leaf and dry food such as papad or sweet are placed on the lower end of the leaf. Also, the tradition is to serve the sweet first and rice in the last whereas Rasam is served in the main course which helps in better digestion.

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