Life Extension Magazine®

Cook with Bay Leaves for the antibacterial effects

Superfood: Bay Leaves

Rich in flavonoids, anthocyanins, and flavones, bay leaves have broad antibacterial effects and were clinically shown to improve cholesterol and glucose levels. Try seasoning foods with crushed bay leaves.

Scientifically reviewed by: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N, in August 2023. Written by: Laurie Mathena.

In ancient Greece, laurel leaves were woven into crowns and worn as a symbol of triumph.

In time, cultures also came to recognize the health benefits of the laurel leaf—better known today as the bay leaf. As a rich source of antioxidants, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and flavones, bay leaves were used traditionally to treat conditions ranging from skin rashes to rheumatoid arthritis to ear infections.1

Today, modern research has confirmed many of the medicinal benefits of bay leaves.

For example, studies reveal that bay leaves have surprising antibacterial properties.

In lab studies, they have been shown to inhibit the growth of 10 different bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus that causes Staph infections, E. coli, and P. mirabilis (a bacterium that contributes to urinary infections).2

Bay leaves could also be beneficial for anyone with metabolic concerns.

In a study of patients with type II diabetes, taking capsules of 1 to 3 grams of bay leaves per day for 30 days produced the following beneficial results:3

  • Serum glucose decreased by 21%-26%
  • Total cholesterol decreased by 20%-24%
  • LDL cholesterol decreased by 32%-40%
  • HDL ("good") cholesterol increased by 20%-29%
  • Triglycerides decreased by 25%-34%

In another study, consuming cookies containing bay leaf powder resulted in significantly lower postprandial (after-meal) blood glucose concentrations in type II diabetics.4

To obtain the most benefit from bay leaves, it's important to eat the leaf itself, as opposed to simply steeping it in broth and then discarding it.

Try seasoning foods with crushed bay leaves. Use it to flavor soups, sprinkle it on salads, or use it in a rub for your favorite fish.


  1. Batool S, Khera RA, Hanif MA, et al. Bay Leaf. Medicinal Plants of South Asia. 2020:20.
  2. Akdemir Evrendilek G. Empirical prediction and validation of antibacterial inhibitory effects of various plant essential oils on common pathogenic bacteria. Int J Food Microbiol. 2015Jun 2;202:35-41.
  3. Khan A, Zaman G, Anderson RA. Bay leaves improve glucose and lipid profile of people with type 2 diabetes. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2009Jan;44(1):52-6.
  4. Khan I, Shah S, Ahmad J, et al. Effect of Incorporating Bay Leaves in Cookies on Postprandial Glycemia, Appetite, Palatability, and Gastrointestinal Well-Being. J Am Coll Nutr. 2017Sep-Oct;36(7):514-9.