Why South Indians Eat On Banana Leaves – Health Benefits And More

Just a glimpse of a south Indian food platter is enough for us to salivate. The unique blend of aroma and flavours found in south Indian food has made people all over the world fall in love with it. And if it’s served in the traditional way – on a banana leaf, it tastes even better. Sadya is a popular celebratory meal in south, and is always served on a banana leaf. While wolfing down all the different dishes in the thali, have you ever wondered why food is served on a banana leaf? Is it for health reasons or for taste? It is actually a mix of both.

A study published in the ‘Journal of Ethnic Foods’ reminds us that the use of banana leaves dates back to the era before metal utensils came into being. Since, banana leaves were thick, big in size and also inexhaustible, they were brought into use for serving food.

While this certainly explains the convenience of using banana leaves, there’s more to its benefits for serving food.

Also Read: Eating With Your Hands and Other Indian Food Traditions

Photo Credit: iStock

Why is it healthy to eat on banana leaves?:

Protects Against Diseases:

Banana leaves naturally contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidants that helps build immunity and stave off common illnesses. It is believed that food served on the leaf tends to absorb the polyphenols to imbue the immunity-boosting property.

Anti-Bacterial In Nature:

Banana leaves are said to be anti-bacterial and kill the germs if present in the food, making it healthier and purer. This explains the use of banana leaves for religious customs.

More Hygienic:

When we wash our regular utensils, there is a risk of chemical residue from the soap cleaners. But banana leaves are naturally coated with a wax-like substance that prevents food from sticking to its surface. So, it’s easier to wash the leaves (just rinsing with plain water will do) and more hygienic for reuse.

Besides these health benefits, there are more advantages of eating from banana leaves that make them so popular in south Indian cuisine. For one, it is more economical as compared to metal and glass plates. And secondly, banana leaves are more eco-friendly, especially in comparison to paper plates and disposable plastic plates.

Also, let’s not forget the joy of eating with hands, when food touches all our senses. Already hungry for a traditional south Indian banana leaf thali? Click here to see how to make it.

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